“When I saw his name in the batting order, I flashed back to seeing my name there for the first time,” Kapuscinski said. The next afternoon, Kapuscinski struck out with the tying run at second to end the eighth inning in a 2-1 loss to East Tennessee State. Four days later, on March 12, he learned he may never have another at-bat.
The Marist players were told to meet in their locker room at 2 p.m.Chris Tracz, the Marist coach, walked in 15 minutes late. Kapuscinski glanced at the notepad in his coach’s hand and saw “Eligibility?” written on it.
He knew immediately that the season was over.
It was a long, tearful meeting. Tracz told his players that this would be their generation’s 9/11 — a moment they would always remember.
“Nobody prepares you for telling you your season — and your career — is over,” said Tracz, who could have five seniors returning. “These guys put in a lot of time and sacrificed a lot. Tyler had surgery and rehabbed. To see that pulled away, even for the right reasons — you don’t want to have those conversations. I just told Tyler I was sorry, I loved him and that we’d do whatever we could to make it work.”
The players dispersed the next day, returning home.
Kapuscinski is playing lots of video games, attending class online and thinking. He had been interviewing for sales positions last fall, but as he immersed himself in baseball, that all seemed so distant. Not anymore.
“Right now, I’m just wrapping my head around things,” he said, lamenting that he cannot see his girlfriend because doing so would put family members at risk. “I can only imagine what other people are dealing with, because everything is crashing down around me. I’ve lost that sense of security in knowing I have time to figure it out. It’s overwhelming. If you didn’t have your career planned out, it’s a very indecisive time.”
Earlier this week, he left the house with his brother to find a baseball field. The first two they visited were closed. Then they tried their old middle school diamond. It was open. Justin squatted behind home plate, and Tyler went to the pitcher’s mound.