BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The seniors in the class of 2020 missed out on a lot in their final semester of high school. The Lancaster baseball team aimed to change that for their seven seniors.
Because their seniors never got the chance to celebrate their final season as a Legend, the Lancaster baseball team is “retiring” their numbers for the next four years.
“As soon as we found out our season was being cancelled, this was one of the first things that popped into my head as far as what can we do for these seniors,” Lancaster assistant coach Derek Jozwiak said. “The two biggest losses right now are your juniors, who this is their big year for recruiting, and your seniors because they’re missing everything. They’re missing prom, they’re missing graduation, they’re missing the last couple months of school with their friends. So we thought, what can we do for these kids to make it not hurt as bad? Because nothing can replace that.”
“I’ve been around sports my entire life, and I thought what’s one of the biggest honors that teams or leagues do for people, and that’s retiring jerseys. We wanted to do something that was special for these kids, but also not selling alumni, people who’ve been there first, short in a way,” Jozwiak said. “Retirement was an easy answer, then it was just a time frame of okay, their numbers of a full high school career of nobody else getting to wear it.”
“You couldn’t retire their number forever, but for a high school career of four years, I think that’s a great thing,” Lancaster head coach Mark Dalfonso said.
For the next four seasons, no Lancaster player will wear the numbers 4, 10, 11, 12, 13, 22, or 24. The Legends are also planning to install a tribute to these seven seniors inside of their locker room, as well as a tribute on the baseball field for the next four years.
“For a long time, we’ve been big about this being about the culture, it being about the boys. It’s about the kids that are out there playing and working their tails off to do it,” Jozwiak said. “Kids ten years from now are going to walk in our locker room and see something and say ‘Oh! Who was Kyle Graff?’ And for the next four years, guys that were freshmen and eighth graders this year are going to walk up to our field and see something out there.”
Nick Castellana, #12, three year varsity Legend
“When I found out the news that Lancaster was retiring our jerseys I felt honored and truly grateful for the people at Lancaster. Lancaster baseball, over the course of my career, has meant everything to me. Every time I got to put on the red and black, it always felt so special. I forever cherish the memories I made playing Lancaster baseball, and it will always have a special place in my heart!”
John Syracuse, #24, two year varsity Legend
“It’s an honor that they care so much about us and are doing everything they can to make the situation better. Being a part of Lancaster Baseball for the past six years has been amazing, and it means so much that they are doing everything they can to remember us.”
Ethan Miller, #4, two year varsity Legend
“Lancaster baseball has meant a lot to me because of the bonds that were formed. Being with the guys every day after school to work towards achieving one goal, which was the Section. When I heard about our jerseys being retired, I was very happy. Knowing that for the next four years our jerseys will give off a message to the future players, ‘Play every game like it’s your last.’ Enjoy every moment that you’re out on that field because you never know what might happen, like us seniors who won’t be able to tie up the cleats in a Lancaster Baseball uniform again.”
Kyle Graff, #22, two year varsity Legend
“It definitely is an honor to get our numbers retired, even though it’s upsetting I couldn’t get a final season with my boys I’ve been playing with since 7th grade. The friendships I’ve made through Lancaster baseball, this season would’ve been more than baseball, it would’ve been playing my senior season and ending high school with my brothers. Those guys were more than teammates, they were my brothers. It’s upsetting the way it ended, but at the end of the day, I still have all of them as friends, and that’s really all that matters. I would like to thank Lancaster Baseball for everything they did for me along the way, and for this honor.”
Trevor Reformat, #13, two year varsity Legend
“When I found out Lancaster Baseball was going to retire our jerseys, I was super excited because it shows that although we weren’t able to finish out how we wanted, our legacy for the seniors would continue on. Not being able to play baseball for the last time with guys that I grew up playing with since I was eight years old really stinks. Lancaster Baseball definitely put a huge impact on me as we were always a winning program, and worked every year for the top goal to win a Section Championship. I really believe we would’ve had a good chance to win the Section this year for Lancaster. But most importantly, Lancaster Baseball has allowed me to build friendships with guys that I will continue to talk to for the rest of my life, and relationships with coaches that I will stay in contact with for many years.”
Ben Farrell, #10, two year varsity Legend
“When I found out that we’d be retiring the numbers, I felt like I had been a part of something bigger than just the game, and something that the next generation of players can look at those numbers and work even harder to strive for greatness, because you never know when it will be over. I’ve been blessed enough to continue the game into college, and I just hope that these younger guys don’t take it for granted, because when you play with your teammates in 7th and 8th grade up to your senior year, they become brothers to you, and it will continue for the rest of your life. Lancaster baseball hasn’t just taught me to love the game, it’s truly taught me to be a better man and teammate, and I will forever cherish the time I got to spend with my brothers and coaches.”
Ryan LaRue, #11, one year varsity Legend
“I just think it is a really cool thing Lancaster is doing to honor the seniors that didn’t get to play their senior year, and I am honored that they are retiring our numbers for the next four years. It really sucks that we weren’t able to play one last year and play with all my friends that I grew up playing baseball with my whole life.”