Editor’s note: This is the last of a group of stories from students in Professor Michael Mudrick’s class and as part of a project celebrating Division 3 athletes.
By Joe Schultheis
THE APRIL sun is beating down on the green-painted rock sitting in the middle of the York College of Pennsylvania campus. It sits there with a fresh coat of green paint, as the day seniors would write their names on the rock gradually draws closer.
Three years prior, just a bit east over at Jaquet Field, the York College Spartans Baseball team had been playing the Eastern Nazarene Lions when the Lions pitcher struck then-freshman Spartans catcher Brian Jakubek right in the nose. The nose is often considered to be one of the most painful areas to get hit by a pitch. Jakubek didn’t even hit the ground as he made his way to first base.
“Brian is the kinda guy who isn’t afraid to get bruised up and his uniform dirty,” Spartan manager Mike Scappa said of his catcher, “He’ll always put the team first, and he comes into every game he plays with a winning style.”
Jakubek joined York College from Howard High School in Ellicott City, where he helped the team to win the Maryland 4A championship in 2018. His success as a catcher comes from his resilience and toughness. It’s toughness and resilience that had to be developed over time and years of playing. Said Jakubek, “At first when I originally transitioned to playing catcher when I was 13, I definitely wouldn’t say I was the biggest fan of getting hit by the ball. I’m still not.”
Jakubek said a year later, thinking back to that day he left the field, “When you’re out there playing you don’t want to be thinking about the pain. You’re just thinking about how you can make a play.”
He is now completing his senior season with the Spartans and his third season getting regular playing time behind the plate. In these three seasons, he has started 78 games as a catcher. In these games, he has recorded 67 fielding assists, with only eight errors across his career.
However, his leadership both on and off the field makes him such a special player.
“I’ll always give 110% for my pitcher, and I hope he does the same for me,” Jakubek said, in defining he plays and who he plays for. “Playing for my teammates, playing for my coaches, playing for my school is what drives me.”
Jakubek’s toughness is not the only thing that makes him a great catcher though. A large part of being a catcher is working with the pitcher and keeping the communication and chemistry under control and making sure one another has their emotions in check. This is something that Jakubek also excels at.
“When I begin to give up hits/ walk guys, Brian and I already have a certain level of expectation that we hold ourselves to, so he just reminds me of that and to take a deep breath,” said long-time Spartans pitcher and teammate AJ Vincenzi. “I’ve been lucky enough to call him a teammate and friend for the last 4 years.”
Jakubek’s responsibilities on the field don’t stop there either. Being the only one with a full view of the outfield while on defense, Jakubek has to be aware and ready at a moment’s notice to call out where the ball is hit and what outfielder should be the one to chase down the ball.
“The catcher is sort of the commander of the field,” Jakubek explained. “Sometimes their backs are gonna be turned to the play so they rely on me to talk to them and let them know what’s going on.”
I’ll always give 110% for my pitcher, and I hope he does the same for me.Brian Jakubek
Jakubek is currently in his final season at York. He now currently has a .213 batting average with 61 at-bats and 13 hits, including a double and triple. He has knocked across five runs.
His Spartans career may soon be over, but the connections he’s made with his teammates and coaches will last a lifetime. Needless to say, he appears to have embodied the culture sought by Scappa, who called Jakubek a very interesting and funny guy.
He understands the personalities he works with and he understands what emotions he’s feeling, ” Scappa said. “He makes an ideal leader.”
Jakubek is set to graduate from York College in just a handful of months, soon enough following in the tradition of those who came before him, writing his name on the rock. He currently remains undecided on what he wants to do following graduation. For now, though, he knows what he has to do for his teammates, his coaches, and his college.
So there he will stay, the rock firmly planted behind Jaquet Field’s home base.
Joe Schultheis is a sophomore and a Sport Media major.
ALSO READ: Struggles now behind her, YCP athlete becomes someone who ‘radiates positivity and confidence’
ALSO READ: YCP freshman golfer enjoying sport where he can control his own destiny
ALSO READ: Overcoming injury has been just part of Taylor Walls’ softball journey