Before I ever had my first crush, I was already in love; the game of baseball had stolen my heart and has had it ever since. From the time the three-year-old version of myself was taking some of my first swings with a whiffle ball bat, no one could have predicted all of the amazing memories baseball would one day provide and where it would take me, least of all, taking my last swing on a field just outside of Paris, France.
Living in Wading River, Long Island at the time, my dad introduced me to the greatest game in the world along with the greatest organization in American sports history, the New York Yankees. While he covered that aspect of my baseball education, when he was at work, my mom would take me out into the back yard to practice hitting balls with one of those jumbo-sized plastic bats. From those early years going forward, I’ve had pinstripes in my blood, which has been a defining factor about me, especially because I grew up in Red Sox Nation.
Growing up in Amherst, MA, provided me a place to really learn and grow in the sport. Playing in numerous leagues and forming unbreakable bonds with teammates, including my best friend, Matt, culminated in what can only be described as a storybook ending. After playing together for close to a decade, the 10 other seniors of the 2010 Amherst Regional High School team and I walked off the field together for the final time as Division I State Champions – the first in our school’s history.
Fast forward to one year later. I was boarding a plane out of New York to meet nine other baseball players from around the country in Amsterdam to begin our tour of exhibition games that would stretch for almost three weeks across the Netherlands, Belgium, and ending in Paris, France. This experience was truly special, and even furthered my love of the game, which I didn’t know was possible. Waking up early to play a double-header and then travel around the city we were in that day was beyond fun, but what I might’ve enjoyed the most was talking with the players from the other teams we faced. Even with the language barrier, we traded stories of exciting moments, our favorite teams and players, and what it was like growing up where we did.
Throughout the course of my 22 years, baseball has become more than just a game for me, it has embedded itself as a cornerstone to who I am and always will be. To quote former Yankees manager and Hall of Famer, Joe Torre, “Baseball is a game of life. It’s not perfect, but it feels like it is. That’s the magic of it.” Here’s to hoping that magic never wears off.