Jaywalking: Well-deserved scholarship

  • Vice President Joe Mignault, left, and Treasurer Denise Devlin present the Franklin County Baseball Association’s Babe Ruth League College Scholarship to league and Pioneer Valley Regional School graduate Eliot Mousseau, who’ll attend Colby-Sawyer College in the fall. contributed photo

Monday, July 03, 2017

Sports are said to serve an important role in molding young people. The lessons that are taught, bonds that are formed and skills learned are carried by athletes throughout their lives.

Recent Pioneer Valley Regional School graduate and star baseball player Eliot Mousseau is well aware of all that sports has offered him throughout his career, and as he moves forward to another chapter in his life, he recently reflected on those things.

Mousseau applied for the 2017 Franklin County Baseball Association Babe Ruth Baseball League College Scholarship and wrote his essay on what he learned over the years playing baseball. The essay helped him win the $500 award, which will be used to help him pay the bills as he moves on to attend Colby-Sawyer College, where he will also be playing baseball.

“We couldn’t ask for a better spokesman for sportsmanship and just a love of the game of baseball,” Babe Ruth vice president Joe Mignault said. “Eliot is a great ambassador for Babe Ruth, just as I’m sure he is for Pioneer.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, a player must spend three years in Babe Ruth, something Mousseau did. During his time there, Mousseau played on a wide variety of teams, playing on a team that finished dead last one season and also getting the opportunity to win a championship during his final year, when Akey’s Insurance won the 2014 title.

Mousseau said that baseball has taught him to “appreciate the ups and downs of baseball and the beauty of getting another chance.” He said that the lesson he learned on the diamond has transcended into everyday life. He doesn’t let the little things keep him down, and knows that hard work will pay off.

“In baseball terms, I can fail seven out of 10 times and still have a Hall of Fame life of achievement,” he wrote.

The hard work paid off this past spring when Mousseau was able to help guide Pioneer back to the postseason for the first time since 2012. Starting shortstop and ace pitcher for the Panthers, Mousseau certainly had plenty to appreciate considering his first three seasons with the Panthers did not even result in 10 wins total. His patience and hard work and that of his teammates got Pioneer to the postseason and gave him a chance to experience a playoff game.

He was also chosen as not only The Recorder All-Star for Pioneer baseball, but was presented with the Baseball Player of the Year award. Prior to the ceremony, he spoke about all the things that playing summer baseball provides a young person.

“To stay healthy, that’s one reason,” he began. “You don’t want to be bored over the summer, and playing baseball is a great way to stay active. And you get to make new friends.”

Mousseau’s family was also very involved in the league. His father was a former Babe Ruth president, and his mother was the concessions director. That helped Mousseau get a feel for how the league ran, and all the hard work that goes in by those volunteering. He said that those lessons helped him as he served as a leader on his high school team.

But of all the things that Babe Ruth and baseball in general provided Mousseau with, the most important was perspective.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he wrote in his essay. “Sometimes it’s really hard to get things going your way. Sometimes life is like pitching a no-hitter and going 4-for-4 at the plate. But most of all, if you put in the time and effort, and if you’re honest and compassionate, good things WILL come your way. It’s what you make of it.”

Great advice for everyone to live by.

Mignault wanted to remind former players that the Babe Ruth Scholarship is awarded annually and any player who competed for three years in Babe Ruth (and Mickey Mantle) through the Franklin County Baseball Association is eligible. For more on the scholarship contact the league.

The best part about the Fourth of July is not the fireworks or the cookouts or the paid day off.

No, as I wrote one year ago, the best part about the Fourth is the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, which is celebrating its 101st birthday and will air live on ESPN2 at approximately 12:40 p.m. The women’s event can be seen at 11 a.m. on the WatchESPN app.

The main event features everyone’s favorite hot dog consumer Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, the reigning champ who enters today’s event as a resounding favorite at minus-400 (in order to win $100, a person has to wager $400).

Last season, Chestnut ate a record 70 hot dogs to win the 100th anniversary of the competition. That put him back on top after winning eight consecutive titles from 2007 through 2014. He was upset in 2015 by Matt “Megatoda” Stonie, but won his ninth title last season with his record consumption. Stonie is back and is rated second at plus-250 (a person who bets $100 would win $250).

So grab your bibs and tune in today to watch people gorging themselves. It’s as American as it gets.

I got a call about a month ago from longtime co-worker Dolly Gagnon to tell me that she had finally met my daughter.

She had stopped by the farm stand when my mother was watching daughter Charlotte, then 18 months old. Dolly called to tell me how beautiful and lively my daughter was, and that she was so happy to have finally met her.

That was my final correspondence with a woman whose desk was just on the other side of my computer. Sadly, Dolly passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.

For nearly nine years, I sat in close proximity to Dolly, who I viewed as another grandmother in my life.

If I let out a curse, Dolly was quick to scold.

“Hey,” she would say, and I would try to justify why I let the naughty word slip.

She was also very active in her church and I would always let her know when I had attended a Mass. She would use that to try and persuade me to go more often.

And I suppose lots of people will pack a church one last time in her honor when she is laid to rest. That’s how she would want it.

Jason Butynski is a Greenfield native and Recorder sportswriter. His email address is jbutynski@recorder.com. Like him on Facebook and leave your feedback at www.facebook.com/jaybutynski.