It’s important to always remember where you came from, and who helped mold you into the person you are. Although childhood memories and hometowns are always the first that come to our minds, there are many places that help guide our identity and aspirations.
Josh and I were invited back to Oregon State University, both of our Alma Maters, to reunite with the baseball program and attend a fundraising dinner in honor of the new season and the new team. Admittedly, we have not been back for years. We graduated and Josh got drafted and I got accepted to graduate school, and life resumed. We left and almost rarely, if not ever, looked back. Life has a funny way of doing that to you. Taking something that was so important and replacing it with new experiences that seem to over shadow the past. Life kind of did that to us. Corvallis, Oregon was not apart of our everyday circuit, and therefore we never retraced our steps back.
So when stepping onto the campus a couple of weeks ago we both couldn’t help but grin at each other. Wow, we actually went to school here. That wasn’t a dream. This was apart of us. It took merely seconds for us to start the “Remember, when...” chatter and from there, it all rushed back to us. College…what a dream life.
|Josh with his college pitching coach, Nate Yeskie, and former teammate, Matt Boyd, |
who currently pitches for the Detroit Tigers.
Josh had to throw a bullpen the Saturday we were there, and as he pulled out his glove from his back pack it was hard not to remember the college version of the same guy. Never knowing what each day would bring, and always hoping that there would be more baseball after graduation day. As he kicked the dust from the pitching rubber, and communicated to the catcher what pitch was coming next, I didn’t even notice what was happening. The entire beaver pitching staff was all enclosed around the bullpen. Some sitting on buckets, others standing against walls, spitting seeds into the dirt, all awaiting. Waiting for this “ex-beaver” to start pitching. They watched. Their faces readjusting after every pitch. Some of them whispered to their neighbor, others listened carefully to how Josh talked through his adjustments. And just like that, it happened. Josh wasn’t just an “old player” anymore, he was someone else.
I wanted to freeze time. I wanted to look at all of these young, aspiring baseball stars and tell them all, right at that moment as Josh’s fastball whizzed by my nose, we were just there.
We were just those kids sitting on buckets watching Darwin Barney and Jacoby Ellsbury on TV. Watching Ex- Beavers continue their baseball journeys on TV.
We were just there, thinking “oh my god, what if…”
We were just those people, in awe of those who had “made it,” wondering ever so inquisitively, “maybe one day that could be him.”
Your dreams are not impossible. Your injuries don’t have to be the end of everything you want. I know. I lived it. Just ask Josh.
As he finished his bullpen, feeling confident with the placement of his strikes, the young catcher walked up to him, shook and his hand and told him it was a honor. That’s what I mean. Josh was someone else.
Yet, if you looked really hard, he was still the freshman pitcher wondering how he would contribute to this ever-growing baseball world.
As I boarded the plane back to Arizona preparing for another Giants season, it struck me as kind of strange. Perhaps God knew exactly what he was doing requiring us to both still wear black and orange to baseball games every season. Perhaps we always just need a reminder of where we belong, and what road we took to get there.