Marc Maturo’s official sports column
At Provident Bank Park, ‘Doc’ has will, skill to prevail
With a new Can-Am League all-time hits record now under his belt, it’s no
wonder that Rockland Boulders veteran first baseman Jerod “Doc” Edmondson continues to dream of a ticket to the big leagues.
Edmondson, a Johnson City native who makes his offseason home in Quincy, Mass., with his wife, Haley, and 9-month-old son Caben, previously established a league record for runs, a testament to his ability and to his staying power. More recently still, Edmondson broke the league’s all-time record for career hits as the Boulders beat the Trois-Rivieres Aigles, 5-3, to complete a three-game series sweep.
Edmondson singled for his 700th career hit, topping the previous standard set by current Minnesota Twins outfielder, and close friend Chris Colabello.
“It was not a goal of mine to hang around eight years,” said Edmondson, who was undrafted after starring at St. Anselm College in Manchester, Mass., and his last year at UMass. “I want to get signed and make it to the big leagues. But I’m happy to be playing every day, and hang around to catch up with some records.”
When asked about the possibility of Edmondson mirroring the success of hashis friend and becoming another long shot to make it to the big leagues, manager Jamie Keefe quickly responded, “Why not?”
“Everyone here is trying to get better, and playing for two, three different reasons,” continues the 40-year-old father of two boys (Brigham, 13, and Brooks, 8), who is in his second year at the helm of the Boulders.
Keefe was drafted out of high school in the third round by Major League Baseball and has enjoyed 22 years in the game – the last 12 as a skipper and his fifth in the Independent Can-Am League. He knows something about what drives his players, and any minor-leaguer, to keep up the fight.
“No. 1 is their love of the game, No. 2 is to win, and No. 3 every player wants to get signed by a Major League club. You never say never until it’s over.”
Edmondson, who believes he is still improving at the age of 30 and still running and swinging as well as ever, is the type of player any manager at any level would covet.
“If you look up professional ballplayer, his picture should be up there,” offers Keefe who, like Edmondson, is making his home in Suffern during the season. “He’s the ultimate professional, here at 1 every day for a 7 o’clock game. The most important thing, as a person he’s just a fantastic guy, a great human being, and a wonderful baseball player.”
Edmondson, who was batting a third-best .314 with a third-best 32 RBI and five homers through 47 games, came into this season with 650 career hits, and continues to be inspired to succeed by his former college opponent and good friend Colabello
Colabello, who played at Assumption College, also went undrafted, and was a career minor-leaguer before being signed by the Minnesota Twins in 2012 and making his big-league debut under Manager Ron Gardenhire, a former Mets infielder, on May 22, 1013.
(Colabello and Goefrey Tomlinson had shared the Can Am league record for runs scored at 388.)
“I still feel I’m contributing and still getting better, and still have a passion for the game,” notes Edmondson. “I certainly feel I can play at the next level. I’m doing what I love; we’ll see what happens.”
Edmondson admits that having a young son makes it tougher now to be on the road, giving him a different perspective on life, but even though he’s probably closer to the end than the beginning he is not even close to packing it in.
“I love the game too much to let it go easily,” Edmondson said. “It took a lot (to make it here) in the first place. I’ve never had a chance at (big league) spring training, but I’m still working at it. Physically, I’m as good a player as ever, not deteriorating. I’m not ready to hang it up, not anywhere near that.”
Edmondson expects to stay in the game when he eventually retires, and is already coaching in the off-season and this year served as hitting coach at Framingham State University in Massachusetts under one-time Boulders player Michael Gedman.
Still going strong
Manager Keefe, who said he might pursue a career in affiliated ball when his sons are older, allowing him the time to be away for nearly nine months as opposed to the five months in Independent ball, does not hesitate in supporting Edmondon’s quest.
“Knowing him and being able to watch him, he’s running as well as ever, swinging as well as ever and trying to get better,” notes Keefe. “I can say to anyone about Jerod, he’s a leader, provides good leadership. If you talk to anyone around the league, you only hear good things.”
Keefe is also high on the Boulders and, like Edmondson, said the organization is run like a big-league club. And, just as several opposing players have noted, they heap a ton of praise on their home field at Provident Bank Park in Pomona.
“It’s tremendous,” observes Edmonson, who also played with the Worcester Tornadoes, Pittsfield Colonials and Nashua Pride. “Nashua’s (stadium) is historic, and Pittsfield was not the best. This (PBP) is the best I’ve been at by a long shot. None of the others can hold a candle to it.”
“It’s fabulous,” seconds Keefe, “but it’s all about winning. Like Edmondon, we all love it and we love to win, and win for good ownership. We want to win, and put on a good show every night.”
For more information on the Boulders access: www.rocklandboulders.com.
A GOAL TO CELEBRATE: As someone who has covered the sporting world for 45 years, I cannot tell you how much I appreciated the late goal that lifted Germany to the World Cup soccer championship. Germany? Argentina? It did not matter, but what did matter was that one of the world’s greatest sporting tournaments was decided in legitimate fashion – without, dare I say it, the outcome determined on a series of penalty kicks! It continues to astound me that FIFA, the sport’s governing body, would not sit down and examine, at the very least, the PK scenario for its title game. We’re not asking for every Cup game to be decided in sudden-death fashion, but at least go the limit in the final, in which the small but coveted golf trophy hangs in the balance after a month of spirited play. The way it is handled now, it would be like the seventh game of baseball’s World Series to be decided in a home-run hitting contest; the NBA title being decided from the foul line; or the NHL’s Stanley Cup being determined in a shootout. The idea, to me, is preposterous. As they say, what say you?
Thought For The Week (courtesy of Joe Favorito, marketing and PR pro):
“I think the hardest thing in life is to forgive. Hate is self-destructive. If you hate somebody, you’re not hurting the person you hate, you’re hurting yourself. It’s s a healing, actually, it’s a real healing ... forgiveness.”
― RIP Louis Zamperini, WWII prison camp survivor, Olympian, great humanitarian, whose extraordinary life is being made into a motion picture
THIS & THAT: The Town of Orangetown Summer Concert Series continues July 18 with Runaway, “A Tribute to the Music of Bon Jovi,” at Veterans Park (82 Hunt Road in Orangeburg, just off Veterans Memorial Drive/Orangeburg Road). The free concert, with parking also free, is set to begin at 7:45 p.m. There is a concession stand and bathrooms at the park. It is suggested you free a blanket or lawn chairs to these family-friendly events.
Other free concerts are scheduled: July 25 (7:45 p.m.) — The Groove Machine, “Music of the 70s and Favorite Disco Hits.” … August 1 (6:30 p.m.) — The Bossy Frog Band, “Family Movie Night Concert.” … The Cynopsys Sports Business Summit will be held at the New York Athletic Club on August 20. Speakers include CBS Sports President Sean McManus, Jon Miller of NBC, and many others; details at http://www.cynopsissportssummit.com/. … The United States Tennis Association (USSTA) Eastern Section, based in White Plains, seeks a PR and communications coordinator. Email a cover letter and resume to: email@example.com.