Well, it's son's turn to hang 'em up.
I wanted to post for two reasons. One, for some reason I think I'll feel better talking about his last playing chapter and this is the only place where I would do that in any detail. Two, I think sharing his story can be somewhat insightful for those aspiring to play college ball.
So, first, the final tally... his college senior year was a good one. Full time OF and leadoff hitter, .315 BA, .417 OBP, reached base safely 80 times in 49 games, double-digit XBH's, at or near the top in runs, sacrifices and stolen bases. Lowest strikeout rate and fewest defensive errors among regular starters. Even though he was only at this school one year, his team was as college teams should be - a brotherhood. They qualified for their conference tourney and made a great run as a #5 seed, making it to the championship, winning the first and finally falling short of an NAIA national birth by one inning in the "if" game. He finished, I think, the way one should... playing meaningful baseball in truly "win or go home" circumstances.
So, where's the insight? We have to back up a bit... it's in the journey.
Son is a small LH throw, RH bat outfielder. Like others who fit that profile, he had to rely on his ultra-competitive nature, outwork everyone and play with reckless abandon to excel. That came with a price.
He was a decorated HS player but tore up his ankle senior year. The luke-warm recruiting trail went pretty cold. So, he chose to go to a competitive JC here in California. He made it through the gauntlet of 90+ players in camp in the fall, made the roster and then tore up his non-throwing wrist, requiring reconstructive surgery. 8 months rehab - missed the season. He was told he likely would not be able to hit again. So, new plan was to go to a different JC as a LHP. Meanwhile, as he rehabbed, he discovered that he was able to hit again and decided to, instead, try to make the team as a position player. They didn't really need OF's - had a guy that would be drafted and a few other strong returners. Once again, he faced about 85 players trying out in the fall. He made the team but it took a while before he got any game time. His opportunity came when a starter forgot his game jersey on a road trip and pi$$ed off the coach. Son got the start, did well and didn't let go. The season ended for him when he got knocked unconscious in an outfield collision - concussion.
The next season (his redshirt sophomore year) he returned and had a second .300+ BA / .440 OBP and earned all-conference recognition. However, the JC coach insisted the players not get distracted with recruiting and let him take care of it. Well, Coach ended up moving on and left some guys high and dry.
So that summer, son scrambled to find a home for the fall and finally got an opportunity at a D2 but only as a preferred walk on. He started the fall 9th on the OF depth chart, had a great fall, culminating with Fall Series MVP award and earned significant PT early in Spring. He kept hitting the ball hard but they stopped falling. While he was still used situationally and as defensive replacement, he lost the opportunity to get back on track with the bat. Even though he had and still has a good relationship with this coach, he didn't put up the numbers necessary to return in a role that would be meaningful. So, here he goes again... a fourth school in five years - about 2,000 miles from previous school and couldn't possibly be more different in almost every way.
It is not easy getting interest or attention as a college senior coming off a down year. He was pretty much limited to the handful of schools that recruited him out of JC. And he made the most of it.
Along the way, he has changed majors and had challenges with getting transfer credits with some of the most basic of courses. He played through the last year with a partially torn labrum and possible PCL knee issue.
So, you wanna play college baseball....
You'd think he would be ready to be done. Nope. His aspirations now are to get into coaching at the college level. He has secured an assistant coach role with an established summer college organization and will be coaching players across all levels, getting started in a week or two. He is home with us very briefly. Meanwhile, he comes down to the field and helps me with my HS team.
He will go back to his current school next fall to finish up his class work and the HC has already appointed him to be part of the coaching staff.