Farewell, 2013 TinCaps

With the TinCaps facing elimination in South Bend last week, I wondered to myself what my emotions would be like when the season officially ended. Would I be upset? Would I be relieved? Would I feel anything at all?

When the last out was recorded last Monday night at Coveleski Stadium, I felt more or less numb. On one hand, I had wanted to see this team win a championship (and, selfishly, wanted the experience of calling a few more games). At the same time, however, now I’d have a chance to go home to see my family and friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen since Christmas time.

Hopefully upon my return home to New Jersey I’m not met with any inquisitive questions of who I am like Jerry asking, “Uncle Leo?”

It wasn’t until a few hours after the game when I finally felt something. You know, that something-in-your-stomach kind of feeling. I’d say it’s a feeling I often associate with realizing that something good, something you’ve been fortunate to have, has run its course, and you just have to accept it. In this case, it hit me when we got back to Parkview Field at about 1:00 a.m. and all the players and staff began to clear out their lockers in the clubhouse.

Before any emotional goodbyes, we watched the first season of Eastbound & Down on the bus — talk about a range of emotions!

After seeing many of these guys on a daily basis for the last five-plus months, it dawned on me that I may never have the chance to see any of them again. Like ever. They don’t know where they’ll be assigned next year and I have even less of an idea where I’ll be.

By the way, in case anyone out there needs a broadcaster…

The relationship for me as a broadcaster with the players/staff is far different from the relationships they have with each other. The bond isn’t comparable. But nevertheless, these are people – something I think too many fans forget, especially when we’re talking about major league athletes and “big time” college athletes – with stories you’ve gotten to know, and tell. People with personalities you’ve gotten to witness, and describe. People, who, for lack of a more poetic way of putting it, are just likeable, good people. And who doesn’t like likeable, good people?

Sorry for the Yogi-like question.

So shaking hands and giving hugs brought pause in the wake of a 144-game season that nearly never stopped. And in that pause, I was left feeling grateful. Grateful for the chance to have met so many exceptional people, both in that clubhouse and outside of it, during my season in Fort Wayne and the Midwest League.

From Mike Nutter to everyone on down at the TinCaps, I don’t think I could have had a better home for my first full season in Minor League Baseball. I’ve been privileged throughout my life to have attended top-notch schools and to have worked around first-class people, and the TinCaps organization was no exception.

What makes Parkview Field so special, in my opinion, is that it’s not only first-class, it’s also fun. Sports are inherently fun, but somehow that gets lost some places. Not in Fort Wayne. While at times a baseball season can become monotonous, the TinCaps’ team of both full-time and part-time employees consistently brings a positive energy to the park, whether it’s Game 1 or Game 72. Nothing exemplifies the fun better to me than the Bad Apple Dancers. (My favorite BAD performance of the season below.)

Thanks to all those who contributed to the fun this season by coming to Parkview Field, reading It’s All Relative, and/or tuning in to our broadcasts. I owe much appreciation to Mike Maahs (as well as Kent Hormann for the times I filled in on TV) for helping to make it easy to feel welcomed in the broadcast booth. And the biggest thanks of all goes to Mike Couzens for offering me the opportunity to come to Fort Wayne in the first place. I didn’t necessarily have expectations for the season, but the six months far exceeded any hopes I could have had.

Like we usually end posts here, I hope you’ll keep in touch on Twitter @John_G_Nolan or by email. Thanks again, and go TinCaps!

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