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Parasiliti: Impact leaves an impression

July 14, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Athletes carry many labels.

They are considered heroes, role models and idols.

They are called gladiators, warriors and — in some circles — prima donnas.

They are categorized as stars, utility or role players.

But when it comes down to it, they are nothing more than ditch diggers.

They create holes.

That sounds a little degrading. Follow this train of thought before it derails.

After aiming for fame and fortune, most athletes would like to leave a void.

They want to be impact players — leaders or trendsetters that transcend their sport.

Impact players make impressions. Impressions leave holes as a reminder and a goal for someone else to fill.

To be honest, everyone walking this earth wants to be a ditch digger. We all want to leave an impression — a hole — that will be remembered for long after we stop walking.

For everyday folks, the holes are subtle. For athletes, they are celebrated.

Sports are a terrific stage for these acts. The records and statistics that are kept give athletes targets to hit and surpass to create the voids. Everyday folks get wrapped up in the process.

Impact’s holes and impressions have varying depths. Some are minor dents. Others are canyons.

* In football, immediate impact is demanded. Defensive players look to change a game with a tackle.

They are followed by immediate gratification of cheers and a celebration dance solo. Those are impressions in the moment, unless it’s the one that forced the fumble by New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez after running into his lineman’s butt.

* In baseball, it was Hickory’s Ryan Rua, who hit two home runs to help the Crawdads defeat the Hagerstown Suns on Wednesday. The impact lasted a day. … The Suns came back and won on Thursday.

* Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis has been the surprise of the season and has won a couple of player of the week honors for his homer heroics. He owns the distinction until a different player is honored the next week.

* Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera had a season for the ages in 2012 by winning baseball’s Triple Crown — leading the American League in home runs, runs batted in and batting average — for the first time in 45 years.

The feat will always be recorded, but will be placed on the back burner until it’s challenged by the next player.

* Cal Ripken Jr. inspired a generation of baseball fans by just coming to do his job every day. The Hall of Famer played 2,632 straight games to become the blue-collar poster child. He was a star, but he realized it was his job to be on the field every time the Orioles were scheduled to play.

* Hagerstown’s City Council considers a political decision carrying athletic overtones as it mulls over a final decision on whether to build a new multiuse stadium.

On the surface, it’s about keeping baseball in this town, but no matter what direction these officials choose, the impact will leave an impression on the city for years to come.

* Andy Murray’s march to the Wimbledon singles title was one of great magnitude. Consider that he became the first British male to win the Wimbledon title since 1936 last week, a drought only surpassed by the Chicago Cubs.

Remote cameras showed how the victory of one man moved a country to utter tears. American fans take championships for granted. In Britain, it will inspire the next generation to consider picking up a racquet.

* There are times, though, when athletic impact isn’t based on performance.

On July 5, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jared Weaver’s wife Kristin gave birth to a son. The 8-pound infant was named Aden David Weaver, in honor of Nick Adenhart, the late Williamsport native who pitched in the Angels organization.

Weaver and Adenhart became close friends as they worked to reach the Angels. That tight relationship was put on pause for another time and another place when Adenhart was killed along with two friends in a 2009 car crash, just hours after his best-ever start in the majors.

Weaver has fared well with the Angels, but has taken the time to remember Adenhart every day.

It wouldn’t be because of Adenhart’s 90-plus mph fastball or his statistics. Adenhart’s career wasn’t much longer than a blink of an eye.

Instead, Adenhart’s impact seems to be because of the person he was.

The impact Adenhart made in his short time as a pro has helped shape others, too. Just ask Orioles pitchers Miguel Gonzalez and Darren O’Day for their opinions.

Jackie Robinson said, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

In this situation, one athlete will continue making an impact for another lifetime in name because of another athlete’s fond memories.

By any label, some holes are voids that are never really able to be filled.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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