Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Long and Strong

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. — Cody Kulp, Brent Ruminski and Nole Saylor have all been part of more than 175 baseball games the last three summers. That number stretches up to well over 200 for Shayne Houck.

In oher words, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to sleep in, hang with friends at the mall, spend a weekend or week at the beach, or even be part of a family vacation.

Not when you play for Boyertown.

“This is something we choose to do,” said Kulp, who like Ruminski, Saylor and Houck has been part of three straight Region Two and state championship teams and Friday night was playing in his third straight Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament. “No one is stopping us from doing all those other things, or anything else. This is our choice.”

For most of the Bears, their season actually starts before the end of the high school season, with the non-league portion of the playing schedule beginning the third week of May. Like the two teams before them - and the countless teams before them - the Bears are still playing.

So any hopes of squeezing a trip to the shore or anywhere else with mom and dad into the last day or two of summer isn’t likely to happen. And worrying about being home for the beginning of fall sports practices or getting off for the start of college, well, that will have to wait, too.

The Bears aren’t in a hurry to pack up the baseball gear yet.

Never have, and likely never will.

That’s because they line up each and every season with one thing in mind, one goal - get to and win the American Legion World Series.

It’s what they heard of as toddlers, and what they watched as youngsters.

So few of them opt for other programs.

“We hear about the reputation when we’re pretty young, then we grow up watching the guys play,” Kulp said. “We always go to the games when we’re younger. We envy (the players).”

Saylor said it’s the only thing he thought of doing since he was old enough - or strong enough - to swing a bat.

“It’s the program, the coaching, the stadium, the community,” Saylor said, explaining what attracted him to Boyertown baseball. “It’s the reputation, the tradition.”

Success breeds success, as they say. That’s never been more evident than in Boyertown ... summer after summer after summer.

But it takes a commitment not everyone is willing to make. There is nary a free night, not with games nearly every day and practices when one isn’t penciled in on the calendar.

In other words, by the time most Boyertown baseball seasons are over there are upwards of 55 to 65 games.

“Some people think that’s a lot, but I miss playing when we don’t have a game for a few days,” Saylor said

“With all those games and practices, I guess I miss hanging out or going on vacation, but I love to play baseball, so I could care less about the other stuff,” added Kulp.

Saylor and Ruminski are both 19 years old and both cane back from college to play another season with Boyertown. It’s something both intended on doing, but something both were encouraged to do by their college coaches at Kutztown and Lebanon Valley.

“Some college coaches don’t want you to do this or don’t even allow you to do it,” Ruminski explained. “But a lot do because of where we’re playing ... in Boyertown, where we’ll play a lot of games and play against good competition.”

Even if it means playing well into August, like they are now.

And while it may sound like a lot of fun traveling up and down the eastern part of the country, or to ballparks around the country for World Series - as so many Boyertown teams have - there is also the frustration of spending a lot of time in motel rooms with nothing to do but wait for the bus to take you to the ballpark.

Friday was one of those days.

The Bears were scheduled to play the last game here at Shepherd Stadium. But a severe thunderstorm rolled in during the afternoon, pushed the third game of the day back nearly two hours, and the Bears didn’t get on the field for their game with the host Buccaneers until 9:30 p.m.

“Oh, it can be annoying,” Saylor said.

“It seems to happen a lot to us,” added Ruminski, recalling last year’s World Series nighmare in Bartlesville, Okla., when the Bears played one game first thing in the morning and came back to play their next at 11 p.m. “But a lot of us have been around long enough to know what we can do and what we can’t do.”

They’ve been pretty good at knowing what to do ... and doing it, too.


Defending national champion Columbia, Tennessee, remained alive in the Southeast Regional by bouncing back from Thursday’s opening-round loss with a win Friday over Leesburg, Ga. ... Eden Prairie, Minn., which finished second in the series and was the team that eliminated Boyertown, also remained alive in the Great Lakes Regional by coming back from an opening-round loss and crushing host Chillicothe, Ohio, 14-1. Also at the Great Lakes Regional, Bradford - the Pennsylvania runner-up to Boyertown - was thumped 14-1 by Midland, Mich.

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