Thank you Baseball

To Coach Hartwell and Coach Dodge:

This morning I woke wishing we still had games left to coach, or even tournament games left to organize. Excuses for me to be at Allard Park are easy to come by. Mostly though, I wanted to thank you both for welcoming me into your dugout. You two were selfless in regard to our pecking order and were very open minded regarding discussion, thought process, and decision making. I appreciate it very much. I enjoyed battling alongside you two over the past week as well as preparing in the weeks before, and yes, I miss it already. It was both a joy and a pleasure to be announced with you and the Goffstown team at Allard Park this week. The anthem still gives me goose bumps. I closed my eyes yesterday as we stood on the 3rd base line while the anthem played and I thought of how fortunate I was to be a part of the team and to represent my town. I sang the words silently to myself as the sun shone down, pondering the thousands of past baseball heroes who had been so lucky as me. Thank you guys. It was wonderful to pace the dirt floors of the Allard Park dugouts again, and to look up and down the bench at kids playing for their home town community spelled across their chests. Thank you.

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Storyland 2014

Yesterday, my wife and I took our three youngest kids to Storyland in Glen, NH for a day of rides and fun. I think you will see from the pictures that we had a good time. There were lots of smiles.

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The Silence Before The Dream

I stand in darkness, nearly in complete silence. The night air encircles my body and it’s comfortably warm, the same, safe, and it’s just right. My face is turned to the clear sky and I see the bright moon before my eyes close. There I stand still. Still as the night air which is only disturbed by my own movement. Eyes closed, face skyward, I feel the coolness of the late night air as it descends toward me. I drift to some far away corner of the world, nearly losing my balance as my mind engages in this dream trip my mind has taken on. I stagger a step or two only hoping to recall the place my mind had taken me to. It’s too late, I catch my balance and look around. Lights play tricks with my perception of depths and shadows in this old space. Nearby, time, I sense, moves faster than it does in this, my sheltered place.

It’s the eve of an event. An event I would categorize as major. One that I’ve never experienced myself, college graduation. I’m standing alone on this Ivy League campus, in the midst of celebration and anticipation. Yet, sounds and movement are almost non existent where I stand. I soak it in. I welcome the lack of anything moving or even competing for my attention. I think, and I enjoy the lack of need for any tangible thought or decision expelled from my seemingly limited thought process. Breath leaves my lungs without pressure or force as I ease into a comfortable, near dream state.

In a few hours my own flesh and blood will graduate from an Ivy League school. Having watched him, having listened to all he has said in silence and having observed him, here he belongs, far more than me. As it should be, for I am just a visitor here. This is about him and his classmates. This is about grace under fire, a sense of wherewithal beyond ones own years, and hard work known only to few. I tread among the brilliant, I rub shoulders with the wealthy, I walk past the ones carrying opinions deemed more valuable than mine. Yet, we congregate here in this place for the same reasons.

It’s late, real late. But like so many that will walk the stage in a few hours, I too, can be tired. Oddly, it hits me that an era is ending for one, which will prove more emotional somewhere down the road I’m sure, while, for the same, a new era also begins. As these roads cross, and the mates circulate through the vast green, I’ll be there in awe. For, it’s those who run with the tools they possess, while still assessing what it is they have, onward, forward, boldly, ignoring trepidation, that make me feel feeble, small-minded, and otherwise simple. Perhaps almost ignorantly, I take great pleasure and pride in my own flesh and blood pressing toward the unknown, while certain that pressing is the way to go.

I look past the stage and the neatly arranged seats, looking for a spot that would not be less dignified were I to occupy its space for the coming ceremony. I find comfort in those spaces, mine identified hours before anyone will show up. Regardless of the distance between my perch and the stage, or even the space between my ears versus the brilliance around me, I’ll stand with tears in my eyes, my heart pounding in my chest as I watch my firstborn walk with the company he keeps. I may not look the part, but true loving pride never met outward image. Congratulations to my son and all of his classmates. Job well done. I’m a proud Dad. Your future will certainly repeat some history, but the future you create will be in a realm never seen before, and frankly, that’s exciting, even for this old school thinker.

For now I’ll take in the silence of the midnight air. The temperature falls in proportion to my eyelids losing their battle with gravity, the result of another long day. My dreams are only seconds away as I slip from consciousness. A smile eases over my face as I approach my dream state knowing how real his dreams are and how close his dreams might be to the reality of the coming morning sun. I thank God for His many blessings. Good night. I’m proud of you son. You will always hold a special place in my heart no matter where paths may lead us. Every step, every moment of every day, you’re here with me. Congratulations my son.

~Love, a very happy, proud dad.

Quote

These words were shared

I don’t know exactly what you are going through today, but I am praying. In the chaos, frustration, and inconvenience of difficult minutes, hours, and days, look within the seconds and identify that which you can make the best of, and therefore hold on to them forever. Because there’s almost always some thing or some moment that you’ll wish would last forever, even in the hard times. So don’t miss a chance to be great even if nobody else knows it, or if it means it’ll only be great for you to recall for the rest of your life.

Local Baseball Trivia ~ What town?

In 2012, during the NCAA Division II Baseball College World Series a player from this town hit the first home run of the tournament. Then, this year, 2014, during the NCAA Division III Baseball College World Series, a player from this same town hit the first home run of the tournament. What is the town?

 

Answer: Goffstown, NH

The Wide-Eyed Boy and The Game

This is a short story I wrote because even after all of my years in baseball, playing it, watching it, writing about it, coaching it, dreaming about it, and teaching it, I was genuinely inspired. The source of my inspiration doesn’t know about this story, and neither does anyone else, so I’m hoping everyone enjoys it.

I have a tendency to romanticize things here and there I suppose. And yes, I know that reactions and intensity sometimes overtake us when we face adversity and failure, and we show a side of us that might not be so pretty, perhaps because it exposes others directly to our hearts. The truth I see though is the thousands of times that we bounce back almost immediately, pulling ourselves to our feet, to love and compete again, for the love of the game. So, romanticized, or not, there is not much that’s more beautiful to me than the wide-eyed boy and the game. Inspired by #8 and the #9.

If you look really close and let your mind travel along memory’s checkpoints, the past reverses, flashing head-on towards the present and the visual collides with the picture in front of you. It’s the wide-eyed boy, full of wonderment, completely engulfed in joy, participating in a boys game, now in a grown man’s body. The names have changed, the neighborhood kids are gone, the dimensions have expanded, the style, the look now seem to matter, and the canvas on which this picture unfolds is viewed by many. Beneath it all though, is the boy. The boy who still cannot soak up enough of the game or the atmosphere found inside the lines separating the player from the spectator.

The sky is perfect blue. The lines, bases, home plate, pitching rubber and baseballs are bright white. The grass cut short, and symmetrically shaped, is green and beckons all to sample its run at perfection. The Stars and Stripes wave gently; perfectly against the blue backdrop. There’s no actual stage, but still it’s set, for the boys of summer.

Enter, the man, in body and mind he’s a man now. But in pure joy, and jittery excitement, he is, and always will be, a boy. Especially in this setting. There’s something that’s perfect about all of it. It all adds up. The pieces all fit. And, it’s as if all things have come together in this place at this time as they were meant to be.

The man may appear this way, or that way, but there’s more to him than meets the eye. He’d rather be in no other setting, he’s home right here, right now. And when this moment passes, if one were to ask, he’d most definitely fondly remember hours spent on an old field, less kept, working on his skills many years before. He’d probably agree to go to that former place now, and continue to work on his game.

Herein lies the beauty, not just the boy in the picture, but also, the picture itself. This is where baseball has that effect, linking all that was right, pure, and innocent with the golden years; linking directly to right now. A kids game being played by a big kid like all of his heroes did decades before. Over the years sand lots gave way to school fields or town fields, the quality of which were far less relevant than the time and effort spent in honing skills. Generations passed and kids are kept closer at hand, the outdoors simply becoming a place through which we must pass. But not in baseball. Baseball encompasses the outdoors, the fresh air, and the things that come with it. As kids in passing generations are outside less, enclosed in an imaginary box of constant pacification, baseball is outside and is just as wide open and grand as it was when kids took to the places they played a hundred years ago.

And so it is. The lines are the same. Baseballs sail by, spinning, bending, dropping, carrying, curving, all in the open spaces that transcend time. Just like they always have. The crack of the baseball against wood still tells the story of direction, quality of contact, and the speed in which the wooden tool was used. As it has been from era to era. Look closer to see that gaps are a mirage, closing quickly, the pawns shifting and moving in premeditated harmony. Distances appearing either closer or even farther depending on how these boys of summer manipulate the tools of the trade.

Then my wandering gaze catches the source of the encouragement loudly aimed at a teammate taking his turn at hitting a round ball with a round bat, squarely. It’s that same wide-eyed boy pulling for his fellow mate, his tone and intensity leave no clue as to his recent level of success or failure. For, with him, it’s not about him for more than any second or two at a time, but about the game. It’s about the game. It’s about the joy of competing in the same spaces between the lines as any player in history ever did. A smile is never far from his lips because it’s not work when you’re engulfed fully in your passion. A gleam in his eyes, like he’s getting away with something that must be wrong because it’s too much fun. It couldn’t be more right, this game, this symmetry, and this wild-eyed boy.

 

8 and 9

Goffstown in Baseball, and the NCAA Tournament

Yes, I have lived in Goffstown, NH for the better part of 20 years. I am quite proud of the sports teams in our small town (population of roughly 17,700), especially in baseball. New Boston, NH (population of roughly 5,300) is part of the Goffstown School District and is very much a part of our community.

This is just an update of some players from the Goffstown School District or Goffstown Baseball Districts playing college baseball this season. There are a few more players who have either missed this season due to injury or are playing Club Baseball in the NECBA for their respective college or university.

Goffstown’s Riley Palmer and the SNHU Penmen won the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament and earned the #1 seed in the NCAA DII East Regional which SNHU is also hosting. Palmer earned Second Team All-Conference Honors and leads the team with 9 HR’s, 91 Total Bases, and a .479 Slugging Percentage. He also tied the SNHU Single-Season HR mark with this, “Good Grief! That ball was hammered!…”  Baseball to host NCAA Regional

Goffstown’s Ryan Smith and St. John Fisher did win 31 games and their second straight ECAC Metro Conference Championship but did not earn an at large bid to the NCAA DIII Baseball Regional. Smith led the team in saves with 6 and struck out 24 batters in just 16 1/3 innings pitched. Baseball Crowned ECAC Metro Champs

Goffstown’s Adam Routhier and Franklin Pierce University did earn an at large bid to the NCAA DII Baseball Regional. FPU is making their 10th consecutive NCAA appearance. Routhier is hitting .323 with half of his base hits being the extra base variety in limited playing time thus far as a Freshman. No. 21 Baseball Named #2 Seed in NCAA Regional

Goffstown’s Jake Glauser and the University of Southern Maine Huskies are in the NCAA DIII Baseball Regionals. They lost their bid for a 3rd straight Little East Conference Title despite Glauser’s heroics but did earn an at large bid. Glauser is hitting .282, has played in every game this season and has scored 33 runs thus far. USM Receives NCAA Bid

Goffstown’s Connor Shaw and the UMass-Dartmouth squad had a feisty run in the Little East Tournament and won 21 games this season. They did not qualify for the NCAA’s this year, but Shaw is off to a fine start in his career having collected 77 career hits in 69 games and accounting for more than 80 total runs thus far.

New Boston’s Mike Bisceglia and Wheaton College won 27 games but lost in their Conference Tournament Finals. They did not get an NCAA bid this year. Bisceglia batted .302 on the season with an On Base Percentage of .417. He also went 3–1 with a 3.14 ERA in 21 appearances on the mound.

New Boston’s Nick Nalette finished his 4-year baseball career at Merchant Marine this season, averaging nearly an RBI per base hit over his career.

New Boston’s Tyler Barss and the URI Rams are wrapping up their season. It has been a tough season for the Rams, but Barss, a Freshman, has allowed just 18 hits in 22 2/3 innings pitched while also earning a save.