Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The School of Devinity

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.
America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.
It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.
But baseball has marked the time.
This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray.
It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.

- Terrence Mann ("Field of Dreams")

Kudos to the young men who comprise the Middlesex High School Varsity Baseball Team.  On Sunday, Coach Mike O'Donnell's Blue Jays won their second Group I State Championship since 2007, defeating Pompton Lakes 9-5.  O'Donnell has been at the helm since 2007, which means that he has now captured two State Titles in just seven seasons.  Pretty damn impressive.  This year's squad set a school record for victories, finishing with twenty-six against just four losses.  Bearing in mind that I sought refuge in law school to avoid hard math, even I can appreciate that a winning percentage of .867 is mind-boggling.

In capturing their championship on Sunday, O'Donnell's crew defeated a team that had an equally impressive season.  Pompton Lakes came into the title game with just three defeats against twenty-five victories, nine of which were notched by their lefty ace Kevin Magee.  Before suffering the loss on Sunday afternoon, Magee's season statistics were a 9-0 record with an ERA of 0.64 while pitching fifty-four innings.  During those fifty-four innings, he struck out one hundred and three batters and walked only five.  Those are the type of statistics that typically are found only on Wii or PlayStation or some such place. 

I have lived in my wife's hometown for the past two decades and during my time here I have gotten to know exactly eleven people.  Trust me, neither I nor the rest of the populace has any complaint about that arrangement.  It will likely not be until my casket is rolled into the funeral home that I shall brighten a room by entering it.  I do not know any of the youngsters who played on this year's team although one of the names, Kyle Dotey, is familiar to me.  I seem to remember when Margaret's nephew Frank was a senior wrestler at the high school that Kyle Dotey was a member of the wrestling team - although the likelihood that I am incorrect in that recollection is significant. 

From afar this group appears to be pretty remarkable - and I am speaking now not only of what they did within the white lines all season but outside of them as well.  This past Saturday one of the local newspapers ran a feature on the relationship this group of kids has had throughout their high school careers with a local "Senior" named Charlie Devine.  His affection for them - and theirs for him - is boundless.  In the piece, senior centerfielder/pitcher Tommy Marcinczyk (who shall play on the Banks of the old Rar-i-tan next year) referred to Devine as "a father figure to all of us" and "as part of our family". 

Theirs is a relationship measured not by the decades that separate them but by the ninety-foot increments that bond them.  On Sunday afternoon, youth was served - including a certain silver-haired icon. 

And all in attendance were reminded of all that once was good and could be again. 


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