Thank You, Baseball

After being the dominating force in my life for 18 years, I’ve decided that it was time to move on from being a baseball player. This was a few years sooner than I anticipated, thanks to continuing knee and back issues, but I can say that I am content with this decision, and leave behind nothing but great memories.

As long as I can remember, spring has meant it was time to get ready to play baseball. It will certainly be weird going through the spring and not playing, but I knew this day would eventually come. There’s a long list of people I would like to thank or acknowledge, and I know there will be some people I accidentally leave out. First off, I would like to thank the entire Elizabethtown College baseball team. After what I would certainly describe as a miserable freshman year of baseball, transferring to Elizabethtown quickly became the best decision I would ever make. Everyone on that team showed me just how fun being part of a college team could be. I made best friends that I know I’ll have for life, especially my boys Anthony Lippy, Nick Bein, Anthony Knight, and Jared Witner. I’d also like to recognize the entire 2014 Downingtown East baseball team, who provided me with the greatest baseball memory I’ll ever have in winning the Ches-Mont Championship.

Baseball has provided me with some of my closest friends and best mentors back home. I’d like to give a quick shout-out to my good friend and battery mate Chadd Catrambone, as well as the endless list of people who have all become my friends over the years while playing baseball. I’d also like to thank Coaches Pete Susi, Scott Gorgen, Brett Mariani, and Coach Freddy from back home, as well as Coach Smith and Coach T from Elizabethtown, who gave me a shot after being in a position where I wasn’t sure if I would get one. Special thanks to Elizabethtown’s trainer Bridget Spooner, who helped me through patellar tendinitis twice, two hamstring strains, and one back strain. I’d also like to thank Coach Will Sanborn from Saint Joseph’s College, who gave me my first shot at being a college baseball player, even though my time in Maine didn’t go as planned.

Finally, I’d like to thank my good friends Anthony Lippy (again) and Kevin Meakim, as well as my girlfriend Allison Plotts, who were all very supportive of me while making this decision to walk away. Above all else, I’d like to thank my parents, who were my biggest fans each and every year I played baseball. Thank you for driving me to games, not holding it against me when I didn’t want to talk after a rough game, and cheering and taking pictures at every game you could make it to. I love you guys.
The truth is, after my freshman year of high school, I almost quit baseball. Looking back on it, that would have been the biggest mistake I could have made. Baseball provided me with a lot more than just memories. It taught me what it meant to be a teammate; what it meant to have a work ethic; what it meant to get up early even when I didn’t want to in order to get better. It taught me to deal with failure, and it taught me how to be humble in success. My freshman year of high school I barely saw the field on the freshman team. By my senior year, I was All Ches-Mont and committed to play college baseball. Baseball inspired me, drove me, challenged me, and on several different occasions almost resulted in me breaking my hand. Between an elbow strain, concussion, tendinitis, hamstring strains and a back strain, my college experience was never all I hoped it would be. While I feel like a quitter, which really bothers me, I didn’t feel that I could continue putting so much stress on my body. Walking away now means I could walk away with nothing but great memories, rather than trying to push through another year of pain and not enjoying it. My sophomore year of baseball brought on some of my biggest and most frustrating challenges in the beginning of the year, but ended with me making my first college start against Penn State Harrisburg, and pitching very well against nationally-ranked Shenandoah. I’ll forever remember my no-hitter during the summer going into my sophomore year in college, and the feeling of being lifted up by my teammates after my first JV start. The ball from my first high school win will remain with me forever, and I’ll some day have a catch with my son (hopefully) using the same glove I made my first college start in. The phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” has never been more fitting, in my opinion. From the blood I shed punching walls out of frustration, to the sweat put in workout after workout, year after year, to the tears that came while laying on the grass behind short stop after my final high school game, I can happily say I gave baseball everything I had for 18 years, and it gave me nothing but great memories in return. It’s an emotional goodbye, to say the least, but it’s one that I can smile about and walk away from contently. While it will be weird not to go to practice after class or take weekend bus trips, I know that my last three semesters of college will be filled with new memories and different adventures. I’d like to look at this not as a means to an end, but as a beginning to a new chapter of my life. And I’m very excited to see where this chapter takes me.

One final note is some advice my friend told me while making this decision. For the past few weeks, I’ve known that I wouldn’t feel happy if I continued to play, but felt I would be letting a long list of people down if I didn’t. For that reason, I really felt like I would keep playing, just to make other people happy. I was reminded that you have to make yourself happy, and that you can’t keep doing something just to make someone else happy. I think that’s great advice, and is something that can be applied to almost every aspect of life.

Thank you all for the memories and support over the past 18 years. I can’t wait to see what life has planned next for me.

 

—DG

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