Ahead in the Count

Heading to Texas

I’m flying to Austin tomorrow morning for my buddy Jordan Tata’s wedding.   Jordan and I were teammates and roommates with the Tigers and while our careers went in very different directions (he made his Major League debut in 2006 while I was already coaching full-time by then), we’ve remained very close friends. 

 

My wife and I got married in October and packing tonight to get ready to attend Jordan’s wedding got me thinking about my own wedding a few months ago (I promise this is about baseball and not floral centerpieces or seating charts).

 

As Marissa and I put together our invite list, I realized that just about every one of my close friends became a friend through baseball.   God knows how many baseball games I played between the ages of 5 and 23, but I can tell you with confidence that I only remember the specific details of a handful. 

 

(For those of you who care, my top 3 on the field memories are, in no particular order: 1) Little league teammate Shooter Starr throwing a perfect game in our 12 year-old All-Star tournament 2) High school teammate Brendan Sullivan hitting a walk-off grand slam against league rival Georgetown Prep trailing by 3 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the last inning 3) Tata throwing an 8-inning no-hitter in our pennant-clinching game in Oneonta only to be pulled before going back out for the 9th inning because he had reached his pitch count – our closer successfully complete the no-no.) 

 

Besides a few standout performances and a couple of high school league championships, what I remember most about my playing days are my teammates.  I remember the great teammates who always worked as hard to make me better as I worked to make myself better (and hopefully they felt the same way about me).  I remember the horrible teammates who were selfish and arrogant.  I remember the teammates who would come home to play at my house after little league practice and the teammates who I’d have a beer with after games in college and pro ball.  I was fortunate to have the great teammates in my career far outnumber the lousy ones and baseball has given me my best friends in the world.

 

I never felt more thankful or aware of this then when I looked around at my wedding and saw I was surrounded by former teammates and coaches.  Co-blogger Brendan Sullivan was there.  The aforementioned grand slam Brendan Sullivan was there (different family, same name, both standout right handed pitchers at St. Albans – there are some great stories there).   One of my first coaches and mentors John McCarthy was there.  Tata was there.  And former coach, current Spring Training summer camp co-director, guitar muse/band mate, and life-long fellow Pearl Jam junkie Sean Flikke officiated over our ceremony as a special 24 hour legal deputy justice of the peace.  There were about a half-dozen other former teammates in attendance there as well.

 

While the kids we coach will have baseball careers of varying length and success, we would be remiss not to encourage them to value their teammates not only as athletic peers, but also as friends.  Whether they grow up to be in each other’s weddings or only hang out during practices and games for one season, I promise that most young athletes will remember their teammates (good and bad) for the rest of their lives and I think that everyone on this blog would agree that our friendships formed on the diamond are among the strongest bonds we have outside of family.

 

-Spring

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January 21, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment