During what is a very different and somewhat difficult time for us all, we wanted to share with our members and supporters this special message that we received via our Facebook page earlier this week. It can serve to remind us just how important our Big Cats family are, and the impact we can have on those around us. We hope you enjoy hearing what is really a lovely story.
In this time of lockdown an amazing thing happened today of which I would like to share with you….Today I had one of the most beautiful days I have ever enjoyed. I went to Ausport and bought my son his first glove and we played catch….. A beautiful, simple father and son moment you would have thought, yes it was. But there was a lot more that came about….
As I walked around Ausport to look at the equipment I felt a warmth that you can only feel if you have been somewhere before and enjoyed a love for something special….. That something special was the Springvale Baseball club and the amazing role models and mentors that I had during my childhood at this amazing club. As I picked up a glove and smelt the leather I thought about rebuilding the mound with Mark Sloane, the man I wanted to be. I watched him tirelessly to see how he pitched so that I could be just like him… When he would pull me aside during training to give me pointers I ate up the advice he would give….
I walked over and grabbed a bat and straight away thought of the hours Peter Gelsi spent tossing the ball and tee drills hitting into the rubber mats, and of course the wonder stick…. Looking at the cleats I remember the labour of love it was to rake the base paths and the pride of which we did this after games and practice as it was all a part of baseball……
I looked at my son with a smile and said I was here over 30 years ago…. batting in these cages buying my red Rawlings glove because it matched my uniform…I truly smiled as he looked at me with confusion and said “dad was this here in the old days”, lol. He chose his glove and he grabbed a ball for us to throw, I didn’t even look at the price as I was so far down memory lane….. It seemed like a different lifetime…
We jumped in the car and I asked Oscar to look for a baseball club locally to hopefully play at and Springvale Baseball club came up…… the first photo I saw was of Billy Reay and his funeral….. This hit me a little harder than you might think….. he put countless hours into me teaching me about the game he loved which rubbed off on me. Here I was a kid of no relation or friend yet he did this because of his passion. Billy Reay taught me so much about the game I loved…. I wish I could have thanked him…..
So then I started thinking about my other coaches….. Roger Bartlett whom I will never forget saying ‘bend your back’ as I practiced pitching, Shane Hunter grilling me because he knew I could do better, Ernie Jones getting us to sit on the ground with our legs straight and pump our arms to show us how we could only run as fast as our arms could pump, Mick Wearne teaching us how to slide, Darren Edgar hamming us to get back when getting picked off…. to Bumpy, well I forgot what he taught because I was just in awe to be in his presence……
I will never forget how everyone pitched in to give this kid a chance to play state baseball, running raffles and donating money to make sure I had a chance….. with a tear in my eye I cannot thank you enough…… When I started at this club I was fairly innocent, but by the time I left I was enraged with life and it’s opportunities… I believe that the Springvale Baseball Club gave me a home when I was a kid and mentors that have shaped me into the man I am, and I am forever grateful for this…….
Tonight as I tucked my son into bed I thanked him for making this a very special day because I loved the sport of baseball and this may be an opportunity to be reunited with that love…. As I go to bed I want to thank the Springvale Baseball club for providing me with some of the greatest memories and people that I have had the privilege of experiencing…… I hope you are smiling!