Prep Baseball Report

New Column Introduction: Indulge Me For A Moment, If You Will

Rich Thomaselli
Writer, New York

Indulge me for a moment, if you will.

1974: I was 10 years old, I begged everyone I knew – parents, brothers (one of whom wasn’t even walking yet), aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to come to my Little League baseball game one night. Truth be told, I wasn’t much of a player. Good glove, no bat kind of kid, but I loved the game. And on this particular night, I found out in school that this one kid would be pitching whom I knew I could hit. Or, in other words, he pitched slow. Sure enough, first at-bat I doubled to right-center. Second at-bat, double to left-center. Third at-bat, I came to the plate thinking home run. I got a pitch, I put all my might into it, and I was just a tick early, sending a long ball to left but knowing immediately it was foul. And it kept sailing foul – right into the parking lot and coming to rest squarely on the windshield of my aunt’s car.

What are the odds?

1986: I was 22 years old, always knew I wanted to be a sportswriter but unsure of how to crack into the business. So I decided I would go to a local high school baseball game, cover it, and drop it off that night to the local hometown paper on spec. The game was tied in the fifth inning but the visitors had the bases loaded. Guy hits a rocket toward short that hits the infield grass and handcuffs the shortstop to the point that it whizzed by him without him ever getting a glove on it. But then it hit the outfield grass and seemed to take off again, almost like a rock skipping across a pond, perfectly splitting the leftfielder and centerfielder – who briefly get tangled up but long enough to watch the ball roll to the fence and for everybody to score, hitter included. Grand slam home run on essentially a ground ball.

What are the odds?

1999: I was 35 years old, and my sister-in-law said in passing she had never seen a New York Yankees game live. So we got her tickets to see the Yankees play the Montreal Expos. To this day, 40+ years of playing and covering the game of baseball, easily thousands of games, I have never seen a no-hitter live. What does she get on her first-ever live baseball game? David Cone’s perfect game.

What are the odds?

My long-winded point here – and thanks for indulging my trip down memory lane – is this: this amazing game, this wonderful, dynamic, passionate, beautiful game we call baseball, will reveal something new every single time you watch.

So I am proud to join Prep Baseball Report New York, where I will have the honor of telling some of these stories to you every week from a level where baseball is still pure and still a game, devoid of such phrases as ‘contracts’ and ‘marketing’ and ‘labor agreements.’

I want to see baseball.

I want to see if Victor High School can win another Class AA state championship by throwing back-to-back shutouts, as it did last year in the semifinals and finals. I want to see what Schalmont has planned for an encore after winning the Class B state title last June and being the only team in New York with one loss. No other team in the NYSPHSAA came as close to an undefeated season as Schalmont did. I want to see Niskayuna star and Wake Forest commit Garrett Whitley play some ball after a summer in which he made a big name for himself on the national level, particularly competing at the Area Code Games. I want to see if Roy C. Ketcham pitcher Tim Zehnbauer – the only junior to make Class AA first-team All-State last year – can again put the Indians on his back and pitch the team back into the state Final Four. And I want to see who the next up-and-coming star is, the one that comes out of nowhere and puts himself on the map.

It’s going to be an exciting several months ahead of us, a time for stories. Because that’s my job – at the heart of it all, I’m a storyteller. So in this space every week you’re going to see interesting stories on a team, on a player, on a game. You’re going to see opinion pieces in some cases. You’re going to read about great players and you’re going to read about not-so-great players, because in my mind anybody who has the guts enough to strap on the equipment and the uniform and play the game at a high level is already a winner.

I look forward to bringing you those stories.

+ Rich Thomaselli's Column will be called New York On Deck, a weekly PBR PLUS subscription based column. Rich is a nine-time award winning sportswriter who joins PBR NY bringing 28 years of experience.

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