Graduation for most is one of the most important and rememberable days of their lives! For me it was in the middle of one of the craziest weeks of my life! It all started a week earlier when my high school baseball team made the top twenty teams in the state, Thursday was our sweet sixteen game in which we won 8-5. Then we took our bus ride all the way home to our beloved city of Massillon to get ready for commencement practice on friday.
Friday brought allot of sunshine and loads of heat kicking off the turf at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. I had a blast chit chatting with all my friends who weren’t on the team and of course flirting with a few of the ladies. That evening I went to eat with a few friends then home to get some sleep, after all we had a two hour bus ride in the morning and were about to face a left handed pitcher that was clocked throwing around ninety miles per hour! I was the lead off hitter and I hit left handed. I was freaking out when I seen him, he was six foot three, skinny, ugly, and mean looking!!
Game time was at five thirty and for once the city was actually there to see us play! We always felt hurt, like we were not taken seriously. Football is king in this city, but we were looking to change that if not only for a week. This game was broadcasted on both local television and state wide radio. We all got a little nervous when we seen the cameras and reporters. A young man sang the National Anthem and that was when I started to feel the butterflies. Play Ball yelled the umpire, I lead off with a double down the line and it was all up hill from there! In the bottom of the seventh we were tied and two of my teammates got on in front of me, I then hit a bloop single over the shortstops head to win the game, this was the weakest hit I had had all year, but by far the one I’ll never forget!!! Hero one minute, back on the bus the next, were going home to graduate in tomorrow afternoon!!
My day started like any other except today I was on the front page of the Massillon Independent as a hero and I was about to be a high school graduate. It was very weird in my house on the day of June 5th 1994 cause my dad was over. Earlier that year my parents went through a very nasty divorce. We took pictures, in which nobody was smiling. So here I am at graduation, it’s hot, real hot! It was said on the turf it was about fifteen degrees hotter than in the stands, great since its like eighty degrees outside. Graduation was fun, but I knew we had to leave early in the morning for mondays game, who would’ve thought us final four. After graduation we went out to eat at Chi Chi’s, I had my usual chicken chimichanga, and a beef taco!! After dinner I went to a friends house for about an hour then home to get some rest.
Monday the sixth of June was the day this town has been waiting for since we lost in the state semi final game against St. embarrassed in 1991 in football. Never in the history of the Massillon baseball program ever been in the top twenty let alone be in the final four. History every step of the way. I was and still am very proud to be apart of a team such as ours! We wore our orange jerseys with black pants, lots of guys had their socks pulled up. As for me I wore my pants saggy. We were warming up and were amazed at how many people in our town could, and did make the trip to Columbus on a Monday to watch us play. Toledo was well represented as well. There were around 7000 people in attendance. We were the home team so we took the field first.
Toledo scored five runs off us in the first inning, which hasn’t been done on us in two seasons. We came right back, I lead off with a single to right field. Then the next two batters hit a double which I scored off of, and a solo home run. We were still down five to three but we were showing our heart. The score remained the same all the way till the seventh inning. Down by two in our last at bat i was just hoping to get a shot, I was forth to hit, and they were facing the bottom of our line up. Toledo’s pitcher must of gotten nervous he hit the first batter then walked the second on four straight pitches. So with two on and no outs I was on deck, and of course my dad was giving his advice from behind the fence. The batter before me popped out to third base, so it was my turn. I was hitting from the left side of the plate. His first pitch ran up and in nearly hitting me in the chin. It defiantly put me on my guard, after all I didn't wanna get hit or even worse hurt. He then threw one straight down the middle and i just watched it, “strike one” yelled the umpire. His next pitch was a little outside but I swung at it and drove it out of the ball park, “FOUL ball” yelled the umpire. You could almost hear the Massillon fans hearts leap out of their chests. Then his next pitch went by me as I stood there frozen, I knew it was a strike, I started to walk to the dugout before the umpire even called strike three, I was in disbelief, embarrassed, and my dad didn’t look to pleased either. I felt as if I let my team, city, and family down with the one lousy plate appearance. We ended up losing the game five to three, my coach gave us the I’m proud of you guys speech, but we knew we let him down. We drove home on a very quiet bus, lots of tears and frowns...but for me it was the end of the beginning of a great summer...