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Baseball Players Return for Annual Alumni Game

Sept. 15, 2007

By Sarah Costlow '09

EASTON, Pa. - On a sunny September weekend with breezy fall weather, Lafayette baseball alumni, current players and parents gathered at Rahn Field at Class of 1978 Stadium for the annual alumni game. Past players from many classes returned, and all nine players from the Class of 2007 were back and ready to play.

Although the score was not kept, there were incredible plays being made the entire game and old jokes and bonds quickly returned.

After the game, there was a small banquet and ring ceremony for members of the 2007 Patriot League Baseball Championship team. Head coach Joseph Kinney said a few inspiring words about the season and thanked the parents, coaches, faculty, and alumni who supported the team on and off the field. Each of the players was then called up to receive rings commemorating the championship.

"Winning the Patriot League Championship last year was the best and only satisfying way to end our careers," said standout outfielder James Conrad. "We had a solid group of nine guys that had stuck together for four straight years, and everything we worked for culminated in that moment. Credit for improvements in our facilities, program, players, and field goes to the hard work of Coach Kinney, and a lot of that wouldn't have been possible without the generous support of our donors, particularly the Class of 1978."

It was a special year for the alumni game because of the experience shared during the championship season. For the nine players who graduated last year, it was not a "nostalgic catch-up session," as former Leopard pitcher Ted Gjeldum put it, but just a chance for the players to hang out with the team and have some fun.

Conrad was surprised to see all nine players from his class return, including Gjeldum, who had to fly in from the Midwest where he is playing in the minor leagues with the Burlington Royals. Gjeldum compares his relationship with his current team to the one with the players from Lafayette.



"My relationships with my teammates from Lafayette will always be far stronger than any I've formed on the Burlington Royals or any team I'll be on in the future," he said. "I spent up to four years with those guys and the atmosphere in which each of those relationships was formed was one of common goals and group cohesion. In the minors there are far more egos and the atmosphere is much more individualistic so there are far fewer valuable friendships to form simply because there are fewer people capable of genuinely getting along with someone that, in all reality, is trying to take your job.

"Even before I graduated I was constantly amazed by how well more than 30 kids from all over the country, recruited individually, can come together and all get along so well. I truly believe that our team is special in that manner even amongst college teams, and I think that is a testament to Coach Kinney's drive to recruit good players that are also quality people."

Besides the alumni, all of the current team members were at the game to support the alumni. The players laughed and cheered on their old teammates.

"It was great to have the alumni back," said outfielder Brad Weiss, an economics and business major. "Those guys were a big part of our success on and off the field and showed great leadership, hard work, and camaraderie. The actual games are what made our season so special. It was nice to see where they are at now and doing well."

In addition, some of the parents came to support the players and reminisce. Many were happily satisfied knowing their sons had such a rewarding experience while others seemed to be wishing they would be watching their son play this coming season.

"You can see how much fun those guys had just being on a field and playing the game and that's really why we play," says Weiss.