Letter: Recalling another championship season

To the Editors:
Congratulations to the players and coaches of the Wilton High School baseball team for winning the FCIAC championship last week. Twenty years ago my teammates and coaches accomplished the same feat. I still remember playing first base and the rush of adrenaline going through my body as the last out was recorded, what a moment. A special congrats to Coach Eagen and Coach Heibeck, both of whom coached our ‘95 championship team and presided over this year’s squad. Those two men helped shape me as an athlete and more importantly a person. What careers they’ve had.
So many memories from my senior year in high school and that special team. My most vivid and cherished wasn’t winning the championship at Cubeta Stadium in late May. It took place a month prior. We traveled to Trumbull and lost to a good St. Joe’s team, 2-0. I pitched a two-hitter in a complete game loss. Coach Eagen told me afterwards it was the best performance of my high school career. Our CF Andy Dunn forgot his glove back in Wilton, which found him in Coach Eag’s doghouse with a cold spot on the bench that day. His backup misplayed a ball in the fifth and allowed a run to score, the eventual winning run. I was furious. I remember riding the team bus down 95 South on the way home, in my usual last seat in the back row. Didn’t say a word, just looked out the window. Andy came up to me after about 15 minutes of mostly disappointed silence by everyone, his eyes welling up with tears. He looked me in the eye and told me he was sorry and that it was his fault we lost. I shook his hand, hugged him and told him he was a man for doing that. I also told him that he’d need his darn glove if he was going to track those balls down in center for our playoff run! He and I had a short laugh about it, friends and teammates don’t hold grudges. We won the FCIAC title a month later.
Eight weeks after our victory, in July, Andy drove his car off the road hitting a tree and dying instantly. Me and my teammates were pallbearers and buried him forever at Hillside Cemetery off Ridgefield Road. He died way too young. I still think about him every July 9th, the anniversary of the day he left this earth. Life is funny that way, it makes us more whole and puts things into perspective.
I think back to all those games we played together through the years. Traveling all over the state of Connecticut. Playing into the cold weather of fall. It was worth all the failures, time commitment, energy and focus. My hope is that the 2015 team can look back 20 years from now and have the same fond memories. This is something you will never forget.
Jason Salvatore
WHS Class of ‘95
Washington, DC, June 1