|Anthony Surber continued
playing baseball oversees after completing his senior season at
SUNYIT athletics photo
MARCY, N.Y. – Former college athletes – or at least
the vast majority of us who didn't go on to compete professionally
– know that the last game of our college career will be
something we remember forever, right up there with our wedding days
or the births of our children.
For example: Home game against Tufts University. Overcast. Nine AM start time on a Sunday morning due to rainouts the previous day. Our third baseman and shortstop both got picked off in the same inning. We lost.
At least one aspect of that description is the same for all but a precious few. As head coaches are fond of saying "every team in America, except one, loses its last game of the season."
For 2012 SUNYIT senior Anthony Surber, the day of reckoning came on Saturday, April 28th in the form of a 3-1 loss to Gallaudet. The loss knocked SUNYIT out of the NEAC Conference Tournament.
"It was definitely sad," said Surber in a recent interview. "You don't think about it until it's over, and then you think back over those four years…I didn't think I'd get as emotional as I did."
And that's where it should've ended, like it does for thousands of 20-plus-year-old men and women every year. A few tears, a hug from friends and family, and the strange realization that deep down all those years you'd never really admitted to yourself that it couldn't last forever; and then it's over. It happens with striking suddenness - especially for spring athletes, where end-of-semester finals and graduation come at lightning speed. With almost no time to mourn the end of what is generally a colossal time commitment from tee ball to college ball, you're being kicked out of your dorm and shoved to the nearest convention with resumes falling out of every pocket.
But what if you got a second chance? What if you were able to play a second last game, with the newfound realization of just how precious each inning or quarter really is?
This summer Anthony Surber got to find out the answer to just such a question when he was invited to play overseas as a part of the American International Sports Teams (AIST) Baseball Team. The team is made up of exceptional Division II and III baseball talent from across the nation. Surber was selected as part of a team heading to the Czech Republic for the Prague Baseball Week tournament.
"Soobie" as his Wildcat teammates nicknamed him, easily showed that he belonged on the team of all-starts. In the week-and-a-half-long tournament the 6-4 lefty went 3-for-6 at the plate (you can see one of those three hits in this video – it's the first clip) and also maintained an E.R.A. under 2.00 on the mound.
Surber represented SUNYIT well even beyond his performance on the diamond. In a statement to SUNYIT Athletics, a representative of AIST said of Anthony:
"It was a pleasure having Anthony on tour with us this summer in Prague. Anthony was a big help to our team at the plate as well as in the field. These are the caliber of players we look for every year."
Surber's team – one of two AIST teams to compete – went on to win the Prague Baseball Week Championship for a record third-consecutive year. No team has accomplished such a feat in the 31-year history of the tournament.
And so Surber, a two-time NEAC All-Conference selection, got to do what so few get to. In a game that mattered, playing against others still at the peak of their athletic abilities, the 6-4 lefty got to win his last game.
Rather than tears or regret, this will be Anthony's last competitive baseball memory. Rather than relegation, Surber finishes on top – literally (Surber is #26, seen in the video jumping on top of the dog pile after his U.S. team won Gold).
Those old coaches are right, though: almost no team in America wins its last game. Luckily for Surber, he's not afraid to travel.
For more information on AIST and to see more highlights from Anthony's tournament, visit the AIST website at http://www.aist.us/