Jun 10

Commentary Warren Hills Baseball-Sports Talk with Anthony Bonelli

They say sports can be a distraction from life for a little while. In my latest piece titled What is Baseball I express what the sport of baseball did for me this past spring. I hope you enjoy it

What is baseball?

Before this year when I thought of the word baseball it would conjure up so many thoughts, a beautiful spring day, my favorite team the New York Mets, and of course the most popular one America’s pastime. Thanks to Warren Hills Regional High School Head Varsity Baseball Coach Mike Quinto, I now have a new thought about baseball, a game that makes everything okay.

This past spring I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer coach for the Warren Hills baseball program, prior to the season, I was struggling trying to find myself after I lost my grandma in December. I felt like I was lost, like I had no control over my own life. I didn’t know what to do at the time my grandma passed away, I was coaching basketball, and I really didn’t know if my heart was into the game anymore. I wasn’t sure I wanted to coach again, I did, but my mind was never completely on the game. In January, I e-mailed Coach Quinto, and told him I would like to help out with the team. He said we would love to have you back, when I was a student at Warren Hills, I was a statistician for the team. When I received that e-mail I felt a feeling of happiness for the first time since December. It was the start of the healing process for me.

On March 16, my family had our annual St. Patrick’s Day party, some of our guests hadn’t seen my family since the death of my grandma so everyone was offering their condolences, which reminded me of the funeral and that terrible time. The next day I went to work, and went into the coaches’ office, and one of the other coaches decided to play a joke on Coach Quinto. He decided to hide his bat, which he uses pretty regularly during practice. Coach Quinto thought I had something to do with the disappearance of his bat, all throughout practice, he would ask me where it was my response would be, I have no idea, and I really didn’t. He said yes you do, you are all in this together. At the end of practice he still had not found it. After every practice I write a report which includes my observations from the day’s practice, after I finished my report, I saw that Coach was on Facebook, so I messaged him and asked if he found his bat yet, he said no wiseguy where is it I said Coach I honestly have no idea. So we went back and forth for a little while still joking about the bat,, then I said to him you know coach I really needed that today, I was having a bad day until I went to work I was thinking about my grandma who I lost in December, so I really appreciate you making my day better that is where the new thought was born, he said baseball has a way of making things all better

The next day, I decided that I was going to tell the team that I was going to dedicate the season to my grandma, I was very emotional, because this was the first time I really talked about how much my grandma meant to me, and how much I really missed her, and I had only known the players for about two weeks, but something just made me feel comfortable telling them, I can’t say what it was, because I really don’t know At that moment I felt like I was part of a very close family, little did I know how much closer we would get.

The day before our first game we found out our captain could not play, because of an injury. 5 min. after we heard the news, you could see that our team started to bond together for their captain. That moment was one of many moments that occurred during the season that showed me that this group . was special.

Some days were very difficult for me emotionally, especially April 10, what would have been my grandma’s 85th birthday, that day we had a conference game against Delaware Valley, I wanted to win that game more than any other game I’ve ever been a part of. In the first two innings we scored five runs, Delaware Valley came back to make it 5-3. In the last inning they loaded the bases with one out, if either of the next two batters hit a single they would tie the game, with a double they would probably win it. Just to give you a little, background, the home plate umpire had a very tight strike zone that day . The next batter probably should have struck out three times before he actually struck out. The next batter had a three and two count on him, before he grounded out to second base , as the second baseman fielded the ball I felt my eyes start to fill up with tears, because I was so overcome with emotion. After the game, I told the team how much this win meant to me and I started to cry, I am usually not an emotional person, but I felt like I was talking to my family.

I never understood how Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin could say in his Hall of Fame speech that he didn’t like the game of football, I now understand why he said that, the reason why he played it was in order to have a distraction from the life that he lived. In my case it was baseball that was my distraction, I now have something in common with Curtis Martin, sports were our distraction from life at one point in time. Like coach said, baseball makes everything okay.