COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — This past summer, the 12 & Under Kent Island Baseball travel team journeyed to Cooperstown, New York, to compete in the annual Baseball Hall of Fame youth tournament. The KI team played eight games within a week, winning three, and losing five. All the losses were close games, but one, and one game went into extra innings, losing to the second seeded team in the tournament. The team held their own representing Kent Island and the Eastern Shore.
“We headed up there not knowing what to expect,” said Head Coach Bobby Macey. “We played well against some very good competition from around the country: Colorado, Alabama, Texas, Massachusetts and New York. After the second day of playing, I suddenly realized that baseball became a ‘secondary’ to part of the week. Game 3, the manager of the Massachusetts team saw our team banner, with Jacob Sloan’s name on it and his number in red, Jacob’s favorite color.”
Jacob was a member of the team in previous years, growing up with most of the boys on the team, and whose father, Pete Sloan, had coached many on the team, before Jacob died in a car crash last October.
“The manager asked about the banner,” Macey said.” A few minutes later, before the game, as Massachusetts was preparing to take the field, they huddled together and in unison hollered out, ‘One, two, three — Jacob Sloan!’ That right there got me crying, and I’m not a crier.”
He continued, “After that game, the Massachusetts team went back to their dorm and researched online Jacob’s death. The team notified us that for the remainder of the tournament, they were going to wear their red uniforms in Jacob’s honor. We were so amazed at these acts of kindness. Again, baseball took a backseat to overall human decency. Other teams’ parents said that they were even taking pictures of our banner and putting it up in their Facebook pages at home, so Jacob was being honored all around the country!”
Outfielder Lane Young, longtime childhood friend of Jacob Sloan, wore the special Jacob Sloan Foundation sports socks in every game of the tournament. Speaking about the Massachusetts team cheer for Jacob, Lane said, “I was glad their team did that. I have to admit it made me tear up a little, and also some of our coaches teared up too. The week we had in Cooperstown was amazing. We got to swim in the dorm pool with the other teams’ players and really got to make a lot of new friends. For me, it was the first time I’ve ever been to the state of New York.”
Teammate Ethan Schriver, who pitched and played second base for the team, said, “That Massachusetts team even painted the number 8, Jacob’s uniform number, on the side of their faces with red paint during games. That team was very respectful, and there was great sportsmanship demonstrated. We all had great fun that week. We did visit the Baseball Hall of Fame while in Cooperstown. I’d say it was better than any museum. Baseball is a passion of mine. It was cool to see all the plaques of the famous players, who they were, their nicknames, and statistics that got them in the Hall.”
Following the final game, the team and parents wanted to grab a bite to eat together before leaving Cooperstown. They found a restaurant with a huge red sign — Sloan’s Grill. Ethan added, “Of course, we ate there.”
Macey added, “An amazing experience for all of us involved, the kids and us adults. The Jacob Sloan factor — it was to many of us, a sign from above. A reminder from God that, ‘Hey boys, everything’s all right, Jacob is with me. I got this!’ I have repeatedly told our boys since that tragic day last fall, ‘This is not a goodbye situation to Jacob, but simply a see you later.’ Kent Island should be very proud. Our team represented Kent Island with so much integrity.”
Since Jacob’s death, the Jacob Sloan Foundation, with the motto, “Love Like Jake,” was started, raising funds to help those in need, especially young people’s causes. The first Jacob Sloan Golf Tournament fundraiser was held in September at Queenstown Harbor Golf and was a great success.
This was the second consecutive year a KI team has traveled to Cooperstown to compete in the tournament, and according to Macey, there are already plans to take a team again next year.