By Tim Chambers
“Take me out to the ball game,” is a song that has been around since 1908, written by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tizer. It has become the official anthem for summer baseball all across America for over 100 years, but all of a sudden, it’s no longer played.
The song, which is usually sung during the seventh-inning stretch at major league baseball games and throughout the US in Little League and high school stadiums is no longer heard. Neither is the sound of fans cheering at games or the sound of a baseball bat.The COVID-19 virus has extended the seventh-inning stretch for over two months now with no end in sight. It’s broken the hearts of many high school seniors along with their spirits. Some may never get the chance to play at the college level like they always dreamed.
That’s not the case for Johnson County’s senior catcher Petie Pavusek who signed to play with King University over the next four years before this baseball season got shutdown. He’s one of the fortunate ones. To some, it’s taken away their dreams. It took away their chance to prove that they, too, could play at the next level by having a good senior season.
“I’m so glad that I signed when I did,” said Pavusek. “It sure has taken a lot of pressure off me and made all of this easier to deal with.”
Through video technology, some may still get an opportunity to showcase their skills, but that remains to be seen. Lost are the memories that classmates make bonding throughout the year, the memories made, and the opportunity to win a championship. For Pavusek, his goal was simple.
“I have never played in a regional tournament game, and that’s been our goal from the start,” he said. “We were just starting to play our best baseball when they shut it down. We didn’t play very well our first game, but we did really well our second one and had a chance to beat Sullivan Central at the end.”
The keyword there is “chance.” This is what has been taken away from all the seniors, thanks to the COVID-19 virus threat. Gone is a chance to win championships and a chance to make some precious memories, but Pavusek understands why.
“We know what’s going on, but nobody has ever seen anything like this,” said Pavusek. “We all love sports, but everyone is trying to play it safe. It’s hard to believe that something could shutdown America’s pastime.”
And it did. Not only did it shut the season down, but it shut Pavusek down somewhat as well.
“I’m used to going 100 miles per hour this time of year, but it sure is different now,” he said. “I never dreamed I would be cut off from playing the sport that I’ve always loved doing. It is strange going to the parks and seeing the gates locked without anything going on and temperatures near 80. And to be told you can’t do what you love doing is a hard pill to swallow. All we want to do is play like we did growing up all our lives.”
Pavusek said that it would be only fitting to see the virus end and that they get to extend the season into the summertime. He doesn’t care if that’s the case, and it’s that late into the year. All my teammates we keep in touch with each other. I am very fortunate because I have a lot of weights at my house, so I’m able to train there. I’m staying in shape for when the season does start back. I want to be ready in case it does.
Not only is the senior standout player missing out on his senior year, but he is also missing out on a chance to play with his brother for the first time. Peyton Pavusek is a freshman teammate and was starting to see action on the field and showing lots of promise.
“Dad always told us we would have one year to play together, and we were really looking forward to it,” said Petie. “It still could happen, and he and I both hope that it does. It would be like a dream come true.”
Petie’s dream might come true if they can get rid of this nightmare virus. The one thing that COVID-19 cannot take away is memories. Pavusek and his teammates are hoping to make several more at the ball field.”
“I just want to play one more high school game,” he said. “You don’t realize how much you miss it until you can’t do it anymore.” It hurts losing the prom and all the other things, but baseball is something I’ve played since I was five years old. I’m really missing it bad.”