It started back in the fall of 2009, fresh out of high school I thought what the heck, let’s try out for the varsity baseball team here at Lehigh. Well two days later, after running more than I had ever run before in a practice (not the reason I bowed out, may I add) and having the worst potassium cramp up I had ever faced; I knew my days as a varsity athlete were over. Bowing out gracefully, knowing that the team was looking for a pitcher, not I, and being one of four first basemen, under three upperclassmen, my time was done.
Around that time I had run into Brian Sloan the President of the Club Baseball team and talked to him about the club. A few practices a week, games on the weekends and the emphasis on fun. Hmm, sounds very appealing to a fresh out of high school first-year student who was going to be a mechanical engineer. FYI, that lasted all of one semester, being now a BA in Political Science (yes, the BA stands for badass) and a current Master’s candidate in said program.
I went back and contacted Brian and my playing days for the club started. I began on the practice squad and that was a great experience; meeting the likes of Trent Muroka, Nick Vossler, Andrew Cauchi, Douglas “Shoes” Jackson and Nick Swanson. I realized that this was my new home, I found a place to be myself at Lehigh. After two weeks, my first game was against LCCC, a local community college (I know that we lost that game) I was no longer on the practice squad. I was still a bench player at that point, that day didn’t last much longer.
Against Bloomsburg University, whom is going to be my last opponent tomorrow evening, I turned an unassisted double-play at first. It was pure reaction, I still remember the ping off the bat and diving to my left in foul territory and then tabbing the base…not sure how I did it. Since that point I was a starter on a regular basis.
Brian came to me at the end on my sophomore year and asked me if I would take the role of president. I was very taken aback that he would think that much of me to ask me to take on the role of essentially Pete Rose: Manager, Player, Base Coach, Bench Coach, Equipment Manager, Treasurer…you name it I did it all. That started my two years as the President. I know I came out of it with a losing record as manager, yet I hope that all my guys can admit they had fun; I know that I did. Though I was a pain in their rear, calling to see where they were and evening going to their houses (Geoff Lynch), why the didn’t make the game/practice, asking repeatedly where their forms were and please pay me your dues (Maroney, you still owe from two years ago…) I enjoyed every moment.
Moments come to mind, being the first manager to beat LCCC (2 out of 3 games at one point, then came the 45-3 blow out, Sorry Louie), taking the game card up to Lou Lombardo of MCCC and hearing some of the most outlandish stories and may I add the craziest ‘tries’ at pick off plays (Piede, you got picked off man…I told you to stay on the base), being very very close to being thrown out of a more than a few games when we got a raw call our way and making friends with Chip Nataro from Lafayette, Byron and many other umpires along the way and trips to Hoagie Haven when we went to play Princeton, they are all fond in my mind.
This being the eve on my career coming to an end, I quantify my career not in RBI’s, batting average (somewhere between .250 and .325), games played (somewhere north of 80 and south of 100) and and ERA still coming down from the heavens, it truly is about the friends I made along the way; the people I suited up with made my career at Lehigh University.
I wanted to thank all of those that have made my career, yes five and a half years worth, a success and one I will remember always. Thanks to James McDermott, Nate Grayuski, Ben Dunmire, Scott Mastroianni, Derek Kelliher, Lee Michael ‘T’ Thomas, Scott Von Stein, Nate Hutchinson, John Appaluccio, Eddie Morgan, Coach Carmen, Chad Davis, our Advisor, Barb Turanchik, the Director of Club Sports and Jane Josephson, the Director of Intramurals; my family, Mom, Dad, Pap and Taryn, Coaches Del Pikula and Mark Suckfiel, members of the South Allegheny Gladiator Baseball Team and all those at Port Vue Athletic Association, you all have played a role in this journey. If I forgot you, I am sorry that I did, you are part of this regardless of being named in one way or another.
All great things must come to an end, though I cannot say it will be Jeteresque. No ceremonial patch, no Gatorade video and not giant hype; I would never want it anyway. Its about the team and Lehigh University. I was just one lucky guy who was able to put on the uniform in college. I know the team will be in good hands for years to come and remember men, ‘Dad’ just wants you to have fun.
I hope to see everyone soon and that I will always be a text/phone call/email away. Till then keep your heads down and always hustle and remember, “we always win to play..”
Yours in Brown and White and most importantly Baseball,