Baseball is more than just a sport to me, its life. Every Summer for the past 13 years I have counted myself as fortunate enough to lace up the cleats, grab my glove and head to the diamond to play with some awesome and talented guys. I have played with guys who have made it to the majors and some guys that never played in high school but also never lost the love for the game. We come home after a long double header with dirt covered uniforms feeling complete and fulfilled, ready to tackle the challenges ahead of us during the work week.
My story is not unique, there are thousands of adult leagues out there with many more thousands of players playing. For some of us the game stopped when real life caught up with lack of talent. Responsibilities, Bills and kids snuck up on us and before we knew it we were old and felt left behind by the game we loved so much. With only our memories of former glory and the untimely injuries that derailed our Hall of Fame carriers from getting off the dirt, we are left to pass on that love of the game to a new generation to discover and fall in love with. It’s a bitter sweet pill to swallow and sooner or later it will hit us all, leaving none left in its wake. Father time will get you no matter how many smoothies you drink or detoxing or yoga or whatever you do to try and cheat him, he finds you.
Father time has caught up to one of my favorite players to play in recent memory and he has decided to call it quits at the end of the season. Chase Utley was a ball player and a hell of one at that. Chase Utley played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 2003 to 2015. He is a six-time All-Star, and he won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008. In 2006 Chase Utley stopped his pregame routine to meet a 10-year-old cancer survivor names Devin Smeltzer, maybe not much to think of as many players sign autographs and give time to sick children. But this story has a twist straight from a story book, that same kid would later be on the same team as Chase with the Dodgers. Fitting that it would come full circle as is the way of life.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, as of today in 6,839 career at bats he has a respectable .276 average, he has smacked 259 home runs, knocked in over 1,000 RBI and stole over 150 bases. His leadership has been praised by former teammates and he is an avid animal lover. But maybe his best-known attribute is his highly anticipated response to Mac’s letter in “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.
He may not have the numbers of a David Ortiz or another sure fire first ballot Hall of Fame player, but he is one of the few old school dirt dog players that played the game right and with all his heart and that is something to admire. So here is to finding that old glove, lacing up those cleats and getting outside and Play Ball. No matter the age.