In a League of Their Own


The Yankees vs Diamondback baseball game on April 30, 2019 at Chase Field located in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo credits: Emma McCarthy ’21.

Will you watch the Major League Baseball World Series this year? Xavier College Preparatory students may be able to think of a few teachers who certainly will watch it based on their known passion for baseball. Mr. Long, Mr. Ahern, Mr. Iacovo, and Señor Maresca are four teachers who have grown up in the baseball scene. Whether they initially loved it or not, they have made baseball an essential part of their adult lives. With different perspectives and experiences of America’s favorite pastime, they each had much to share when asked about their love for the game. 

One of the most interesting and fun parts of any sport is picking your team. You get to follow them, watch their ups and downs, cry with them, celebrate with them, and everything in between. For many baseball fans, their dedication to their team stems from a specific game they watched or the fact that they have an allegiance to their state team. For Mr. Iacovo, who grew up in Connecticut, the New York Yankees were essentially his home team after the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants moved to California. Señor Maresca, a now dedicated Diamondbacks fan, first took Phoenix as his hometown, then adopted the baseball team with it. Mr. Ahern and Mr. Long, both Arizonans who grew up when there was no state team yet, looked out of the region for their favorite teams. Mr. Ahern became a Red Sox fan and Mr. Long became a Yankees fan, so as you may assume, they have a bit of a rivalry based on baseball history. But both are able to put aside their competitive spirits to appreciate the game for what it is, no matter who wins or loses. 

Baseball is unique in the memories and special moments the game inspires. Fans have some of the best stories about epic triumphs and defeats, or even more personal stories about watching the games with their families or friends. Mr. Long was a junior in high school when the Diamondbacks played the Yankees in the World Series. Unfortunately for him, the Diamondbacks lost. Mr. Long remembers: “I was just crushed because I had worn my Yankees jersey to school all week and got so much flack for it…” But fear not! He does have happier memories of the Yankees at Chase Field. He was there for the Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia’s 3000th strikeout when he joined the distinctive club that only has eighteen pitchers. While he also remembers the Yankees and Diamondbacks World Series in 2001, Señor Maresca more specifically remembers the 1964 World Series, where Mickey Mantle hit an amazing home run that won the game. 

But while some memories are outstanding baseball moments, others can be much more personal. Señor says he remembers taking the subway with his friends when he was a teenager to go see Yankee games in New York City, and Mr. Ahern cites when he took his sons to Fenway Park, the Red Sox Stadium, for the first time. While some sports memories are standout moments because they are instances of insane talent and chance, baseball has the ability to create personal memories that fans remember forever. This is something absolutely incredible about the sport. 

Most of these teachers played baseball at some point, but none of them surpassed high school. Although, Mr. Iacovo did remember the peak of his career being a one-hitter he pitched in Little League. His son, however, actually received a recruiting letter from the L.A. Dodgers. He thought, “It was kinda cool, I mean I never thought I’d see a letter from a major league baseball team recruiting one of my sons.” Although his son didn’t follow through with the opportunity, it was definitely a memorable moment, one that happens for very few people. 

Despite their appreciation for baseball, teachers all have a greater passion for teaching, hence their current positions at Xavier. Each of them drew parallels between teaching and baseball, some sillier than others. Mr. Ahern expressed that both are seasonal and that in the beginning, both school and baseball can take some getting used to because you’re never exactly sure where the events will lead you.  Mr. Long and Mr. Iacovo took more coach’s perspective, teaching and guiding us, but also stepping back and watching us play the game on our own. Really, Mr. Long is our manager in our AP and Honors United States History class. For him, he said, “95% of what I do is just watching you all play.” Señor Maresca implements a baseball lesson in every one of his tests and quizzes. His extra credit question is always the day’s date, which is considered a basic question for his Spanish 2 students. “It’s like being up at the plate and you know a fastball is coming!” He says. “What do you do? You hit it out of the park!”

Of course, baseball has many lessons that apply to life beyond the high school classroom.  Señor Maresca has learned two main lessons: to show up every single day, and that you can’t hit a home run every time you’re up at-bat. Sometimes you make mistakes, and you’re not always going to have the best day, but the important thing is that you continue on. Mr. Long has discovered a lesson along these same lines: if you strike out you always get another at-bat. So even if you have a bad day, there’s always tomorrow. 

Arguably, what’s so special about baseball is the way it connects people. As an activity that anyone can enjoy, it simply brings people together. As Mr. Ahern describes it, “Baseball is just good. I think some things are just good in and of themselves, and baseball is just good in and of itself. Play is just good in and of itself. It’s not good for some other purpose…. It’s just one of those joys in life and it’s a good you can share with others, whether they agree with you or not.” 

Baseball, regardless of differing opinions and competitive spirits, is a special sport, both in its format and effects. The joy it brings its viewers is inconceivable, and the memories expressed by these Xavier teachers show just how pure and unique it truly is.