Oct. 8, 2012
WASHINGTON - When a student-athlete is in the midst of his or her college athletics career, they typically do not get the chance to sit back and reflect on the simplicity of getting the chance to continue to play the game they love. Schedules being schedules and college being college, more often than not their routine becomes just that, a routine that sees a day involving attending class, going to practice or games and then homework.
Last week, however, as Georgetown celebrated Homecoming Weekend, more than 40 former Georgetown baseball players arrived on campus and then hopped in some vans headed for Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Md. for the program's alumni game.
More than 40 players showed up for the Homecoming weekend, and nearly 30 of those participated in the alumni game, which started with batting practice at Shirley Povich Field.
Organized by former All-BIG EAST first baseman Ryan Craft (B'06), the game featured a large group alumni from 2000 to present day, but also included former Hoya standouts such as John Belicka (C'90), Keith Dent (C'90), Jason Martinez (C'91), John Meyer (C'92) and Mark Siegel (C'89).
"When you are a player during school, and you are so focused on performing that day, and winning that weekend series, you can never truly enjoy some of the beauties of baseball," Craft said. "You are simply too close to it all. But when we came back to the field last weekend, it was the little things that I loved the most - getting dressed in the parking lot, walking into a cool stadium like Povich, shagging balls in the outfield with teammates that turned into decade old friends, setting the field up for BP and starting the type of day you haven't had in many years."
The most senior among the alumni back for the weekend was Tom Elliott (C'71, L'74), who had his doubts about participating when he first got to the field.
"Forty-one years after playing my final NCAA baseball game in a Hoya uniform, and at least 15 years after participating in my last alumni game, I came here for the 2012 game," Elliott said. "I looked forward to it, but even as I walked through the gates at Povich, I wasn't sure whether I would participate. But once I heard the music, smelled the grass and saw the field drenched in early morning sunlight, the magic of the game of baseball overcame the years and my better judgment and I headed for the home team dugout, pulled on a pair of game pants, adjusted my hat, jumped over the line and made sure not to step on it, and went out to second base."
For Elliott, it was an even more unique experience to be out on the infield during his portion of batting practice, as he shared the middle infield with his son, Tom Elliott, Jr. (B'10), who played shortstop for the Hoyas from 2007-10.
"It didn't matter to me that I was clearly the oldest person on the field," the elder Elliott said. "I never stopped smiling during batting practice. I reveled in the unique, relaxed baseball banter and marveled at how good the veteran swings looked. It was a special treat to see my son at shortstop and my mind went through the recollections of his days growing up and playing and then his days here as a Hoya."
The elder Elliott participated in batting practice and was pleased to hit one of the offerings from Georgetown Head Coach Pete Wilk, who threw batting practice, up the middle.
While former second baseman Chip Malt (B'10) claimed the highlight of the afternoon was, perhaps, his pitching for three innings and supposedly being credited with the win, Wilk said that the biggest ovation came during the fourth inning when a perfect 6-4 force out was turned Elliott to Elliott.
"With one out and a runner on first," Tom Elliott (C'71, L'74) said, "I covered second on a ground ball hit sharply to shortstop, took the perfect feed from my son, tagged the bag for the out, and had sense to not throw to first base. It was more of a comment on my shoulder than on the speed of the runner, but I will never forget the day, especially the half inning playing the best game on earth with one of my heroes."
The current Hoyas were on hand for the game and came away impressed.
"I was really glad we came out to watch and to help out," senior captain Justin Leeson said. "I know some of the guys because they've been back, but it was really great to see the camaraderie that they all have and how, after the years, they still come back."
While Craft was certain to point out that he was one of only two players on the afternoon to hit a home run during the scrimmage, he also recognized the importance of the morning.
"Baseball is about so much more than balls and strikes," he said. "It's an experience that every time has the power to truly overwhelm you. And that was the best part, the emotions and nostalgia that come back to you when you find yourself around guys that all share a passion for the game of baseball and a love for Georgetown."