Fifth-year player Sean Gaston - pictured here way back in the 2003 Blue-Gold Series - is a .333 career hitter in the Blue-Gold intrasquad series.

Sean Gaston Weighs In From Waterloo

Aug. 5, 2004

The 2004 Notre Dame Baseball Summer Diaries are heading for the home stretch and rising sophomore catcher Sean Gaston is next up at the plate, filing his entry from Waterloo, Iowa, in the Northwoods League. Gaston opened his Notre Dame career last spring by batting 10-for-11 and he has followed with a hot debut in the area of diary writing with his report from a summer playing with the Waterloo Bucks. The Bucks (31-27 overall) are battling for a postseason spot, needing to catch the Madison Mallards and win the second half of the season (Waterloo is second at 16-10 in the second half, three games behind Madison’s 19-7 mark with six games to play). Gaston is batting .268 – 15 points above the team avg. – with 19 hits in 71 at-bats, 13 runs, 5 RBI, 2 doubles, 8 walks, 18 strikeouts, 1-of-4 stolen bases and 3 errors. Notre Dame 2004 Summer Baseball Diaries – Entry #7 (Sean Gaston, Waterloo Bucks) NOTE TO THE READER: I apologize for the inability of this journal entry to even come close to matching the excitement, vocabulary or overall literary skill that my teammate Tom Thornton displayed in his 3,200-word dissertation on Cape Cod, baseball, rivalries, and basically every other subject from the weather to love. I will try to do my best to create a sequel that will at least keep your attention enough until Steve “Booger” Andres delivers what I am sure will be an awesome entry. … Hi Irish Fans, this is Sean Gaston, trying to humbly follow literary guru Tom Thornton in my report from Waterloo, Iowa, and the Northwoods League. Currently, my Waterloo Bucks reside in second place behind the Madison Mallards and my Notre Dame teammate, but bitter rival right now, Mike Dury. I would like to apologize to my teammates for one of the two games Madison has in hand on us, since my hitting suggestion to Mike might have led to that gamewinning home run he hit – but, hey, you have to help a fellow Irish, even if he is a duck. With a late charge, I hope that we will be able to overtake them and send the Ducks home. This summer has been an awesome experience for me. The Northwoods League, which has been home to many Irish players over the last few summers, is a 10-team league (two five-team divisions) that consists of teams from Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ontario. We play a 64-game schedule in 70 days, and then a four-team playoff (the first and second half winners of each division). The cities in the league really embrace the league and give the game such life. The atmosphere of the game is a lot like the feel of a lower-level minor league professional game, including the plate music, beer vendors, and time-consuming promos. And that of course does not include the awesomely entertaining dizzy-bat race that precedes the top of the 9th in every town. With this life also comes the inevitable force known as hecklers and nothing excites a heckler like the possibility of yelling at that night’s “Beer Batter”. Ah yes, the “beer batter” is a staple of the Northwoods League. Every night, one batter is chosen from the lineup to represent the hopes and dreams of all males in attendance by giving them the chance to have half-price beer, which will happen every time the “beer batter” strikes out. I think I might have found something that gets close to the intensity of the fans during a Notre Dame-Rutgers game and that is the intensity and pure contempt shown by hot, thirsty fans in the 7th inning when you yet again fight off a two-strike count; I am talking about pure rage at you, and a feeling that makes you just proud to slap that opposite-field single. The fan support is great throughout the league and that goes from events at the field to public relations events and into the homes of the host families. I was fortunately paired up with a great host family. The Van Besiens were given the “great but trying task” of taking care of me (those were my mom’s words, not mine). I could not have asked for a better family. The father, Mark, and his wife, Dee Dee, remind me of my parents and by the end of summer, have become like a second set for me. The kids, Jacob (who just celebrated his birthday last week) and Josh, are incredible surrogate brothers. This family eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball during the summer, and then flips over to hockey for the fall and winter (much like my family and I had done for my years of dual-sports). They would bring the whole family out, from grandparents to cousins, to each Bucks game and give me a loud (never a challenge to find in the Northwoods) and positive (a challenge sometimes in the Northwoods to have) cheering section. I cannot thank them enough for the hospitality. Having just read Tom Thornton’s diary, I was inspired to give you, the reader, a glimpse into my daily schedule as well. So without further adieu, here is the schedule of Fighting Irish in Waterloo. 8-10 a.m. (Sorry, times vary with the last event on schedule) – Wake up, take in the aroma of cinnamon rolls and look forward to another day of Bucks baseball. 10:30 a.m. – Enjoy a nice breakfast with Josh and Jacob while I watch ESPNews with Jacob, and Josh enjoys a rousing cartoon on the other television. 11:00 a.m. – Meet Ryan Hastings, an evil Illinois Illini during the spring but a pretty good guy the rest of the time, for a lift at our local gym. 11:45 a.m. – After a good workout and humiliation (Waterloo has the largest number of body-builders per capita, I promise you), off to get some lunch with Ryan and discuss the finer points of bunting and other such things that Illinois baseball might have left out (Illinois fans I mean this all in fun). 1:00 p.m. – Time to return home, shower up and start getting ready to go for the game. This might include a few games of Yahtzee on my computer or maybe just some NCAA Football. 2:45 p.m. – Leave for the field. I enjoy my drive as I might listen to anything from Flock of Seagulls to Kenny Chesney to Metallica and then wrap it up with some Petey Pab … all on the same radio station. You can’t top that variety. 3:00 p.m. – Arrive at the field, get into uniform and stretch. This is a good time to sneak in three or four PBJ’s (like Tom, I need to eat … probably more than Tom, I need to eat) and then head to the cages for some early work. 4:30 p.m. – Batting Practice. Work on the swing, get loose and focused for the game and see how many times you can hit the bucket while shagging balls. My personal record is 6 times in 20 tosses. 6:00 p.m. – The lights come on, the gates open up and Herb Albert and Tijuana Brass starts blaring over the PA. Ah yes, game time is approaching at Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo. 7:05 p.m. – “The bell rings,” as coach Haines would put it, and the game would be under way. Normally, I would probably be catching Matt Lane, our resident 6’8″ gas-thrower, who would be working on spotting up tonight, which means he chooses a side of the plate to try and hit. 8:45 p.m. – 6th inning rolls around and the Applebee’s Cow Tipping contest is on. I am sorry I had to include this, because I find it extremely funny that we slow the game down each night to allow two little kids to go out and tackle and jump on a man dressed in a cow suit, and then we give them free meals at Applebee’s. (I regret to report that there is an age limit and players are not allowed to compete). 9:45 p.m. – YMCA, led by local super fan Tony, who gets the crowd pumping and urges us to “score some runs” even if we are up by 15. 10:00 p.m. – Dizzy bat race and “Moni Moni” by Billy Idol is played for the 100th time tonight with the usual chorus of Bucks fans entering at the musical part of the refrain to shout “Hey, Hey, what do you say lets go Bucks!!!” This is a cool thing that is malicious when it is turned against us on the road, as many other versions have been created by other town’s fans. 10:30 p.m. – Our closer, Chad Epperson, slams the door with either his 94 mph fastball or 61 mph lob ball … it works. The crowd goes wild, we throw out plush balls, and “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung (which I believe is a Coach Rooney favorite back t Notre Dame) blares over the loud speaker. 11:30 p.m. – After signing autographs, I am finally on my way home to get some food, ice up and get some rest. Unless of course we are on the road, which then mean … 1:00-6:00 a.m. – Arrive home from the previous night’s locale. At this moment, I am happy that I am home alive as I have found that the travel’s curse that followed the Irish this last season must have been transferred to me as I have endured a bus driver affectionately dubbed “Leadfoot” Larry and one named Doris who tipped our bus over onto its side, and in the process crushed three construction barrels, a stop sign, and smashed us all on the right side of the bus. Well, that is my typical day. I know it might be a shocker to some … cough cough Tom … that the Midwest is a great place to play. Again, I would like to take the time to thank my host family for treating me like I was their son. Thank you to the Waterloo Bucks organization – coach Haines, coach Hahn, coach Shockey and Mr. Olson – for all their help and for putting together a great summer of baseball. Thank you, too, to the Irish fans who came out to watch games where we played. It feels great to know that you always have people supporting you throughout the country. I hope my teammates had a great summer and are getting ready for another great year of Irish baseball. I can’t wait to get back up to school and get playing again. Thanks for putting up with this random monstrosity that I called my journal entry and GO IRISH!! Sincerely, Sean Gaston