• “Louis DeColaJr <ldecolajr@yahoo.com>
    To:Scott Plescia,mburke@sjheralds.org,chancery@youngstowndiocese.org,schultz.connie@gmail.com,webmaster@ohsaa.org
    Cc:Yelena DeCola,Davide DeCola,Albert S. Camplese,dhall@perrysburgschools.net
    Jul 12 at 9:49 PM

    Sketch : This is extremely difficult to write every time I try to write about it. I use contemporaneous notations to help so I know it is at least extremely accurate. I am not daring you to blame the victim.

    In 1977 The Saint John Heralds Baseball Team of Ashtabula Ohio won the Northeastern Conference (NEC) championship comprised of many larger schools after yours truly hit a triple to win the game in the bottom half of the last inning against The Ashtabula Harbor Mariners. Several Saint John Heralds made ALL-NEC Baseball Team at various levels (First team, second team, etc.) including yours truly who finally played regularly but not at the outset of the season.

    In 1978 The Saint John Heralds baseball team competed well but did not win the NEC. However, the Saint John Heralds Team went to the State Tournament. Yours truly batted 1,000 (one thousand) with two (“pivotal” I was told) home runs during the tournament prior to the team going to Columbus, Ohio. On the way back from the last game won in the Tournament (in the Boardman Ohio area) prior to going to the State Tournament in Columbus two Senior Players who were seated on the left side of the bus toward the back had the baseball score book and were seen/caught by several on the bus making numerous erasures and pencil changes to the baseball score book and even whispered and laughed to each other as they were making changes. They were seen changing errors and walks to hits and changing hits to outs, (on numerous games) etc. The manager was seated on the right side more toward the front of the bus and was alerted about what was transpiring with the score book and he looked back and said something angrily like “you don’t need to do that”. The two seniors who had been making erasures and writing in the book across numerous pages gave the score book to someone else several minutes later who in turn gave it to the manager. I along with others witnessed this unfortunate and at the time very sickening incident in its entirety that only seemed to end AFTER the manager was alerted (and yours truly was NOT one of the two Seniors making erasures and pencil changes to the score book but did make an attempt for the behavior to stop prior to the manager being alerted by another person on the bus).

    Several days later the team went to the State Tournament in Columbus. After getting home from school on the day yours truly went to Columbus (which was the day before the game in Columbus) a relative gave me a copy of The Star Beacon and expressed puzzlement that not one Saint John Player or manager/coach made ALL-NEC. I traveled with another player who was a Junior down to Columbus and he was also perplexed. I asked the manager/coach when I arrived in Columbus how that could have happened—no Saint John Herald on the ALL-NEC team at all– and he said “I didn’t go to the coaches meeting”. I asked him why he did not go to the meeting and he said “I just didn’t go”. In Columbus my room assigned. I was split from the Junior I travelled with and was assigned to stay with the equipment manager on the team who was also a Senior. The room was apparently unheated and musty with what seemed like no air flow and seemed like a place where overflow equipment and other things like a bunk bed and various lockers were sort of thrown into with no apparent arrangement. We went to sleep on bunk beds (me on the bottom). After retiring, the manager came in and the mattresses were placed on the floor so a non player whom I was told was with the school newspaper could be accommodated. It was about 11:00 PM. The identified school newspaper non player talked intermittently for the next 4-5 hours. I pleaded with him and he would stop for awhile but only started up after 20-30 minutes, approximately. About after 12 midnight, after I plead with him and that did not work I angrily told the identified school newspaper representative that he needed to stop talking and making noises but he continued. I knew that if I got up and walked out of the room to tell the manager if I could find his room it could awaken others and I had been told by the manager not to leave the room. There was no telephone in the room. The room was separated physically from other rooms. I slept at most two hours. My back was very stiff. My muscles were sore. The room was a little cool. Upon wakening my goal was to not make mistakes. I was extremely tired especially after the 4 hour drive after school the day before to Columbus.

    I played but could have injured myself….my timing was off….I was so thankful I did not make any errors and walked because I was pitched around (I did not see a strike at all) two of the three times I got to the plate. I walked two times on four consecutive balls each time that were nowhere near the plate. But the one time I swung in my first at bat my timing was off and I hit the ball sharply into the ground—on any other day I would have taken the pitch which was high and away. After this game my grandfather remarked that maybe his presence was not helpful; I never told him. I was embarrassed.

    I recall playing in the outfield and going back and making a catch ten feet from the fence and was so thankful I did not make an error; on any other day it would have been a good catch without the extreme trepidation I felt throughout the game. Any other game I would have turned, ran to the fence, and stepped up to make the catch for the final out. But instead I walked backward and made the catch luckily with both hands high above my head for the third out. Not a pretty sight. Downright Dirty? Traumatic. Pathetic. Real. What say You? I have sketched this horror years ago….but not to “you”….and, prior to “me too”.

    Louis DeCola Jr. July 12, 2019″

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