Ten days removed from my final college baseball game, it’s time to reflect. For five years, I had the pleasure of being able to say, “I am a college baseball player.” Now that I’ve played college baseball, I am only certain of one thing: baseball is a great teacher. While I was introduced to baseball as a “teacher” in Shawn Green’s “The Way of Baseball”, I had to learn it for myself from the people closest to me.
First, baseball teaches through people’s words. Words can be practical and inspirational. Early in my high school career, my dad told me, “If you keeping hitting, they have to find a spot for you in the lineup.” That was practical. After high school, my high school coach, Coach Karn, gave me a graduation card and signed off with the closing “Keep swinging.” Those two words were inspirational.
Words can also be humbling. This past season during a team dinner at The Ground Round, a few teammates and I shared a booth with our bus driver, Rich. We had just finished a rainy doubleheader and he asked me if I thought the ground caused our opponent’s leftfielder to slip on a specific play. Being our leftfielder, I lightheartedly said, “It wasn’t that bad, that guy just doesn’t know what he’s doing out there.” I didn’t mean to come off arrogant; rather, I just wanted a cheap laugh from the rest of the table. However, Rich responded in a serious tone, “Hey now, he’s a ball player just like you and everybody else.” That was humbling.
The words people share about baseball can also be confusing. After a walk-off win in the DII 2013 Central Regional, my mom compared the game to a walk-off win I experienced in high school. Although I agreed with her comparison, I said, “It’s just a game, mom” in an attempt to keep my emotions in check. She quickly said, “No, it’s more than a game.” When that overused phrase came out of my mom’s mouth, it was confusing.
Is baseball more than a game? I don’t know. Again, all I know is that baseball is a great teacher. It teaches through people’s actions. I’m thankful that I’ve witnessed so much positive action by baseball people. Such action, perhaps, can define college baseball.
College baseball is…Those players and coaches who put in eight-hours days at youth baseball clinics for no pay…The graduate assistant coach who stays hours after practice to flip balls to a redshirt-freshman who’s struggling with his swing…That crazy super-fan who doesn’t have a legitimate connection to anybody on team, yet comes to every single home and away game…Or, the redshirt-senior who’s playing his final game and wearing the same old sweat-crusted, wind-dusted, germ-ridden game hat that he wore on the first day of fall-ball his freshman year. All that, and more, is college baseball.
It’s now time for me to sign off of CBlineup.com. Thank you CBlineup for letting me share my thoughts and gain a deeper appreciation for college baseball. I wish you the best in your continued pursuit of influencing others to do the same. Thank you NCAA and St. Cloud State University for letting me be a student-athlete. Thank you to all coaches, teammates, and friends I made along the way. You’ve changed my life for the best. Lastly, thank you to the game of baseball, you taught me how to say “Thank you.” I played college baseball for the St. Cloud State University Huskies and had a blast doing it.
Phil Imholte #10 – SCSU Huskies
p.s. Anyone have a job for me?