What I Remember - Sports memory

This isn’t your normal sports memory.

It’s not a walk-off home run or buzzer beater for the win. It’s quite the opposite.

The sun was bearing down on the Amherst College scoreboard. Game two of a double header was wrapping up after eight hours of NESCAC baseball. Amherst: 20, Bates: 0.

I gimped to the bus for the trek back to Lewiston, Maine. Over the course of the two games, I had been thrown at, hit by a pitch three times, including one on the foot. They did not like me.

The bus was quiet to start. There’s nothing fun about getting utterly embarrassed by one of your rivals. Nevertheless, a few hours into the ride the losing pitcher cracked a joke and a group of us were in tears with laughter. The beauty (and struggle) of college baseball is in such a long season, some losses hurt and matter less than others.

Why do I remember this game?

Flash forward two years. The same group of howling idiots are seniors. We’re celebrating at the edge of our dugout while our parents, friends and classmates cheer from above. We’ve just beaten Amherst College in the NESCAC playoffs and are one win away from the league championship.

Yet, this is not a story of redemption or revenge or how the Bates Bobcats won the NESCAC championship. We lost the next game and my collegiate career was over seemingly as fast as it started. This is a story of what made my time as a college athlete the most influential experience of my life. Candidly, I struggle to remember specific at-bats, plays or games. I couldn’t tell you many of my stats or our team records.

I do remember the 11-hour bus rides. I remember the post-game dance celebrations and I especially remember belting out Wagon Wheel with the live band in LaGrange, Georgia.

Suddenly, it’s been two years and I am by all accounts part of the real world. Time plays tricks on you. What felt like it would last forever has become a dreamlike blur, cemented in the past. When I look back on it, what I’m left with is something special.

This isn’t your normal sports memory.

It’s not a walk-off home run or a buzzer beater for the win. It’s the friendships, memories and moments that will last a lifetime.

For me–it’s better.