Sanson: One last smile in uncertain days
It was a gray March day, a crisp touch to the air but hardly intolerable. Naked trees that hadn’t tasted spring yet, the grass a melancholy brown, pleading for shot of green. All-in-all a typical New England day for the time with one exception.
The world was turning upside down.
The tentacles of the coronavirus were spreading unimpeded at Indianapolis 500 speed dictating the immediate future to all in its path. The CIAC state basketball tournament had already been cancelled in midflow, stealing the dreams of teams, towns, players and families, fanning the flames of anguish and anger.
It was just the beginning. The sports world would close up shop the next day with the cancellation of collegiate spring sports and the NCAA Tournament, the postponement of the NBA season and start of baseball season.
Others would follow, golf decided to retee at a later date, the Masters and Players championships among the victims. There would be no sports world except for Tom Brady’s announcement that he was leaving the Patriots.
Colleges would send their students home and go on-line. Public schools would just go home and start the on-line process later. They would await the fate of their unredeemable spring seasons.
I was at Eastern Connecticut State University to bring my son, Jon, some extra luggage to bring home his stuff for an extended period (at the time).
When I got there early afternoon he said to me, “Dad you might want to stick around. Eastern has a doubleheader this afternoon and I think Morgan is pitching the first game. It’s probably going to be their last game. “
I was tired and didn’t know if I wanted to hang around but the draw was strong. Morgan was Morgan Sanson and not only was this probably the season’s last game but as a senior it was definitely her last game, in a formal competitive sense probably forever.
I have been following Morgan since her junior high days through high school in Thomaston and college. I have watched her become an area legend sporting one of the state’s best-ever athletic resumes. Seven state title games, four state championships in three different sports. More titles and All-Star honors than the best dream could conjure up. Moments of magic that would rival whatever Houdini, David Copperfield and Criss Angel could offer up.
Her college career has produced continued success in field hockey and softball. It has been a scrapbook’s dream. And now the end was almost certainly here. Her parents are also close friends so the decision was easy. I stayed.
Jon had to go do some work at Eastern’s lacrosse game so I took a quick trip to Willi Brew, a rather impressive looking old post office that now serves up vittles to the hungry. I had a catfish sandwich and a coke (yep) and made it back to the softball field where I quickly connected with Morgan’s mom and dad, Lisa and Rob, and her grandmother, Elsa.
The atmosphere was inconsistent. Eastern’s first game of the season and almost assuredly last game of the season (the cancellation came the next day) bringing with it that exuberance and energy that comes with the rebirth of another season and hints of spring. All mixed with the sadness of the last game of a season and careers with the unescapable specter of the coronavirus hanging overhead and all its mystery and spirit-sapping impact. Glad and sad in one package.
But you take what you can get and that was softball for a while and Morgan’s probable last memory certainly at Eastern. She will attend Sacred Heart University in pursuit of her Master’s Degree this fall and has eligibility in both softball and field hockey although no plans to play at this point.
So we sat there in some kind of no-man’s land. But in typical Morgan fashion, she didn’t disappoint. Has she ever? With the bat she slammed a double to the left center field gap. On the mound where she has made her living, she pitched an efficient seven-hitter with three strikeouts and no walks in a 7-2 victory.
There was a second game, but for Morgan the season was over, a career ended all too early on terms not to be negotiated. But you know, it ended well. If the ending couldn’t be controlled, how it ended was under her command and the book closed with a win. One last time Morgan Sanson gave you a reason to applaud and smile. It has always been like that with her. On the fields and courts it has always seemed to be on her terms and those have been awesome to witness.
We are in uncharted waters. But Morgan Sanson gave us one last boost for the upcoming days and gave herself one last memory.
I was glad I went. I walked into tomorrow with a smile and a solid feeling that she has always provided. It was the last day, but it was good day. It was Morgan being Morgan and hers has been one heck of a story and journey.