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Last chance at farewell: Blue Springs senior baseball players honored

Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Senior members of the Blue Springs High School baseball team, who weren't able to play a game this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, gather at the high school Thursday night to be honored along with their parents. Seniors are, from left, Payton Schmidt, Ryan Eglich, Ethan Brooker, Colter Nelson, Tristan Stewart, Matt Eisenreich, Cade Bissell, Tanner Martin and Aiden Smith. The players were awarded a framed jersey and their mothers received flowers from coach Tim McElligott and the baseball booster club.

For as many years as they can recall, nine members of coach Tim McElligott’s 2020 Blue Springs High School baseball team dreamed of their senior season.

“This was a team that got the valuable experience last year and were going to put it all together this year,” McElligott said. “Then, after 11 practices, the season ended because of the pandemic.”

So McElligott talked to members of the baseball booster club and came up with an idea to honor his seniors – Payton Schmidt, Ryan Eglich, Ethan Brooker, Colter Nelson, Tristan Stewart, Matt Eisenreich, Cade Bissell, Tanner Martin and Aiden Smith.

“Every year we give our players a framed number from their jersey, and we wanted to do that his year,” he said as nine, socially distanced folding chairs, with framed jerseys leaning up against them, formed a perfect line between home plate and first base.

“This was going to be a special year – for me personally and our team, especially these nine seniors. We’re 11 practices into the season and it all ends because of the pandemic. What do you say to these kids? What do you do?”

McElligott decided to honor their legacy, as if there had been a baseball season, and it was a big hit.

“It’s pretty special to be on our field one more time with all our brothers,” Brooker said. “It’s going to be a long time before the sting of losing our senior season goes away, but this is a great honor and I’m so happy we were able to do this tonight.”

Smith and Martin echoed those feelings.

“I hope the young guys on the team realize what happened to the seniors this year and don’t waste a minute of time with their teammates because it can all be taken away after 11 practices,” Martin said. “This helps – it helps a lot – but it doesn’t replace a senior season we had all dreamed about since we were little kids.”

Added Smith: “It’s cool to see everyone one more time before we all go away to college. At least we got to be on our field one more time and that means a lot to me.”