The last pitch: Saying goodbye to Rams baseball

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With Ryerson’s baseball season coming to an end in October, fourth-year journalism student and baseball player Allan Perkins reflects on his last game as a Ram.

By Allan Perkins

I knew it would be the last pitch I ever threw. Thirteen years of playing baseball, nine years of pitching, thousands of pitches to hundreds of hitters — and this was the last one. One of the league’s best hitters was up and the count was 3-2 with two outs. Catcher Christian Shirton called a change-up and I threw a perfect one. Strike three, inning over. Dramatic, huh?

The funny thing is, it wasn’t. Maybe to me, but considering we were losing 6-0 in the second inning in the last game of the season and we’d already been eliminated from the playoffs — the stakes weren’t the highest. But with graduation looming in April and no plans to play baseball in the future, this was the end of my career.

I’ve played on Ryerson’s men’s baseball team for the last four years. When I got to Ryerson in 2013, luckily so did the ball team.

It wasn’t until last year that it all came together after a rough first two seasons. We were 3-9 heading into a double-header against the 7-4 Waterloo Warriors, who were about to clinch a playoff spot. With some great pitching and timely hitting, we swept them. Waterloo lost five straight after that and we finished with identical records, giving us the final playoff spot thanks to that sweep. We came within one win of getting to the top four, but fell to U of T in the quarterfinals. This year was a little disappointing for us — we managed only five wins and missed the playoffs.

As a mostly-effective late-inning relief pitcher for much of my Ryerson career, I was pleasantly surprised when I had the opportunity to start my last game, which was the second game of a double header against Brock. After going two scoreless innings in the first half of the double header, I knew I had a short leash. I would get to finish the second inning, but after a few hard hit balls in a row and with my pitch count for game somewhere around 60, it was clear I was out of steam. Our head coach, Ben Rich, was on the top step of the dugout. I can’t imagine he wanted to take me out, but based on how things were going, he might have had to.

As I saw the hitter swing through strike three to end the inning, I removed my glove and wiped the sweat off my face with my jersey. When I looked up toward our bench, I was amazed by what I saw. Everyone on the team was out of the dugout, waiting to congratulate me. It’s not often that a starting pitcher gets such a warm reception; especially considering it was somewhat of a shelling.

First out to greet me was Rich. “Great career. Great career,” he said. Before I could thank him, I was getting patted, hugged, high-fived, mobbed, you name it. It was as close as I’ve ever felt to a set of teammates.

In the post-game speech, Rich said a great deal about how the season went and some things to work on going forward. But then he added something that really stood out.

“At the end of the day, I hope you all got something out of this season,” he said.

For me, that didn’t just apply to this season, but the last 13 seasons. I’ve been on some great teams, won a provincial championship, a half-dozen city championships and a team MVP award. But none of these things would matter if I didn’t enjoy it along the way. Not just enjoying playing, but competing with and meeting some great people along the way. I couldn’t have found a better place for all of that than Ryerson.

I thought to myself, yeah, that’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it? I’ll miss it, but to have been a part of Ryerson’s team for four years was special. And hey, at least I didn’t walk my last guy.

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