Another Grad in the House!
Last year I talked about my daughter Gabby graduating from high school and heading off to college. This year, it’s my son Mikey’s turn.
I was doing a bit of cleaning up around the office the other day when I noticed a stack of old editions of our firm's newsletter on a shelf. I took a moment to browse through them, and the photo on one particular edition caught my eye. Turned out to be perfect timing.
The newsletter featured an article about my son Mikey's trip to Cooperstown Park. He was thirteen then, participating in a baseball tournament and visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That experience was transformative for him and his friends, a memory that still ranks as one of his most cherished moments. To this day, he fondly reminisces about that tournament as one of the best he's ever played in, even though he has since competed all over the country.
The article I wrote in that old newsletter focused on Mikey's love for baseball and his admirable work ethic. It concluded with a note about his aspirations—playing baseball in high school, and then in college. At thirteen, these goals seemed so distant, almost unreal.
I've always believed in Mikey's talent, particularly in his skill as a catcher, but the road to a college team is tough. According to the latest data, only about 7% of high school baseball players actually go on to play in college. You read that correctly – 7 percent. Not great odds. The vast majority of these players hail from the South, where year-round baseball practice is feasible, giving them an edge over players from the North.
As I look back, the journey seems daunting. When Mikey was thirteen, we were far from worrying about high school and college. Now, he's a high school graduate, and he was recruited and signed to play college baseball at Eastern Nazarene College in Boston. Time, indeed, flies.
Mikey recently finished his final season of high school baseball. He was a team captain this year, which meant a lot to him. He was the starting catcher for every single game, caught every inning of play, and led the team in every conceivable batting statistic. In their final tournament of the year, he was named to the All-Tournament team. He received a special award from his high school, recognizing baseball excellence and leadership. Additionally, he was one of only two players from his team selected as Middlesex League All-Stars. Lastly, he received his varsity team's award for MVP - Most Valuable Player. Among graduating seniors, Mikey was the only one with a commitment to play college baseball. This young man worked tirelessly to achieve his dreams, earning every accolade bestowed upon him this year.
Though Mikey faced challenges, he met them with determination. Starting school a year early made him one of the youngest in his class (he’s still only 17, even though he just graduated high school). His height—approximately five foot eight—caused some to suggest that becoming a college catcher might be a pipe dream. Despite these odds, Mikey did not divert from his path. He could have shifted focus to other positions, given that he's an excellent middle infielder, but his passion lies in catching. Disregarding the naysayers, Mikey committed to his rigorous regimen, spending almost every day at the gym and devoting endless hours to the batting cage.
In his journey, Mikey found support from numerous individuals. From coaches, like Malcolm Cepeda and his strength coach Derek Couture, who saw his potential and had his back, to his family, including myself, my wife, and my daughter, who form his most passionate cheering section. Without these people, Mikey wouldn't be where he is today.
When I look at pictures from his Cooperstown tournament—then a thirteen-year-old with a baby face and braces—and compare them to how he is now, it evokes a rush of memories. Games, tournaments, practices, college showcases, and travel for events all come flooding back. Some of my best baseball memories aren't even about the games; they are about the travel he and I did together. Our time alone in cars, on planes, and in hotel rooms, where we could just talk, hold a special place in my heart.
Let's get one thing straight—I could never accomplish what he's done. I doubt I'll ever be as good at anything as he is at baseball. Perhaps I'm not even as accomplished a lawyer, but the jury's still out on that! What's certain is that my family is my biggest source of pride. Watching Mikey succeed in his dream of becoming a college baseball player is a big part of that. This sense of pride, for his accomplishments, will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Mikey has always prioritized his team over individual acclaim. However, this year, he earned an individual award that I believe is the most significant of all— a scholarship in my grandfather's name.
A few years ago, we started a scholarship to honor my grandfather, a fervent supporter of high school sports who continued to referee and umpire until he physically couldn't. Watching Mike play baseball was one of my grandfather's greatest joys. He used to tell my grandmother that his dearest wish was to live long enough to see Mikey play baseball in high school. Unfortunately, he didn't live to see that day. However, I know that, somehow, he still sees what his great-grandson has become, both on and off the field.
This year, I had the honor of presenting our scholarship awards in front of Mikey's entire school. Before I handed Mikey his award, I told him that I believe my grandfather will be looking down on him and smiling the first time he puts on his college baseball uniform. I can imagine the pride my grandfather would feel, a sentiment I share wholeheartedly.
Mikey, you did it. You made your dreams a reality. And for that, I couldn't be prouder. You did it.