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Parting Shot: Jack Stockless

By Jack Stockless, Crimson Staff Writer

Early every September and April for the past few years, I would begin my days by walking into the Leverett House dining hall, grabbing a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice, and — brimming with anticipation — checking the website of the league in which the Harvard club baseball team was playing that season. Most of the time the websites would have nothing to offer; they simply displayed last season’s results, untouched over the long summer break or the cold winter months. I guess I was too eager. But one day each season, those slates would be wiped clean, The outdated scores and standings were usurped by a fresh set of unplayed games and the teams were organized alphabetically in the standings, not yet having had the chance to jockey and leapfrog each other in bids for postseason glory.

If for some reason you find yourself perusing the American Club Baseball Association’s website, you’ll see a standings sidebar on the right-hand side of the page. At the very bottom of the list, dead last, buried in the cellar — that’s where you’ll find the 0-6 Harvard team from this spring. The New England Club Baseball Association’s site is a bit more forgiving, as its design seems unchanged since the early 2000s and distracts from our 2-8 finish in the fall season.

As a member of the team for the past eight semesters, I’m no stranger to seasons like the ones we had this past school year. We did make a playoff run once during my career, facing off against Brown at the decrepit, goose-infested Moakley Park in Boston where we actually had to draw bases with our spikes in the dusty infield because neither team brought any. (We lost a heartbreaker, 2-1.)

Several times — more than should be expected with an official roster of more than 30 members — we had to start games with eight, or even seven, players. This naturally led members to send messages over the club email list with subject lines like “STEP THE F UP” or “Thanks for Sending us to the Slaughter House.” Sometimes we even had to recruit from outside Harvard; my friend from BC, guys from another player’s summer team, and alumni of the team all made guest appearances. We had more people show up for the Dodge for Dollars tournament than for most games. We rarely had more than half the team in uniform — some guys would wear whatever Harvard t-shirt and sweatpants they had laying around. You get the point.

To some, this team might sound miserable, the perfect candidate for disbanding as an official organization and going down in flames. But I loved it. Though my love for baseball in general might be clouding my judgment just a bit, I do not regret a second spent with the club baseball team.

The stories were the best part. The legendary trips to Moakley, our de-facto home, affectionately known as Dinger City. The time when we actually won a game shorthanded; Babson really squandered that seven-inning-long power play. Our victory in the inaugural student dodgeball tournament and our runner-up finish this year, netting us $1,500 combined in prize money. Even after we lost a game 14-1 or something like that, we managed to fall back on stories to achieve a sense of unity that would otherwise come from having a winning season once in a while.

Storytelling is also what drove me to the Sports Board at The Crimson. Growing up, flipping through dog-eared Sports Illustrated issues in my room or getting ink under my fingernails from the pages of The Boston Globe while eating breakfast, I often thought to myself that being a sportswriter would be one of the coolest things imaginable — after being an actual professional athlete, of course. Getting to live out that dream at Harvard, even if for a short period of time on a small stage, brought me immense joy.

When I got a scoop about the football team and had to feverishly type it out on the @THCSports Twitter account, I briefly felt like the ever-ready Adam Schefter or Ian Rapoport. I tried my best to emulate the polarizing Dan Shaughnessy or Stephen A. Smith whenever I delivered a hot take in my column. And I may have borrowed a bit too much from the Capital J Journos at Pardon My Take when brainstorming ideas for my Around the Ivies pieces. Though those tweets rarely got much engagement and my articles garnered only about 200 pageviews on a good day, I felt like what I was doing was important; the community at The Crimson, a group of people who worked tirelessly to produce a paper five days a week, every single week, helped keep me motivated even on days when I dreaded seeing that I had a deadline to hit.

As a rule, I typically don’t enjoy telling my own stories. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed writing for the Sports Board so much; I had the chance to tell others’ stories, both those of triumph and those of failure. I certainly don’t claim to have told all of them particularly well — I’m sure my articles written as a comper in the fall of 2015 weren’t stellar. But contributing to the record of Harvard athletics and making memories with the small (yet fearsome) band of fellow sportswriters at 14P has given me some great stories of my own to tell. And I will continue to tell them for years to come.

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Sports Parting ShotsYear in Sports 2019