LOWELL, Massachusetts — It has been a rewarding and lengthy ride — in more ways than one — for Bob Calbick and Chris Black.
Both men arrived at LeLacheur Park, the site of the 2014 America East Baseball Championship, on Friday prepared to watch what would prove to be their sons’ last game — at least at the college level.
They trekked from their homes in Canada to cheer on sons Alex Calbick and Troy Black, who were seniors on the University of Maine baseball team that later was eliminated from the tournament with a 6-3 loss to Binghamton.
“I’m hoping it goes a couple [more] days. It’s interesting,” Bob Calbick said before the game.
Chris Black said the potential for his son’s career to be over was not at the forefront of his mind as the players warmed up during pregame.
“I haven’t really thought, ‘this is the absolute last time,’” he said. “It’s still, ‘let’s go Maine.’”
Calbick and Black weren’t about to miss out on the end of their boys’ productive UMaine careers. Each had been at Mahaney Diamond in Orono the previous weekend for “Senior Day.”
That visit resonated with Chris Black.
“After the [Sunday] game, everyone’s cleared out and there we are again, they (his children) were all running around the field, just four years later.”
Black said the kids had frolicked around the Mahaney Diamond FieldTurf on the August afternoon they dropped Troy off as a freshman.
Bob Calbick likely enjoys the distinction of traveling the farthest of any UMaine parent in program history to see his son in action. He resides in Burnaby, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada.
It is more than 2,600 miles from there to Lowell.
He had remained on the East Coast since the Black Bears’ last regular-season series.
Chris Black simply got back in the car and drove the nine hours from Mississauga, Ontario. He spent Thursday night in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at the home of Rick and Patti Fransoso, whose son Mike was a teammate of Black and Calbick for three seasons.
“I’m lucky enough to stay at Fransoso’s place,” Chris Black said.
“I’d drive it for one game,” he said of attending the tournament.
Black and Calbick both admitted they would love to see their sons continue playing baseball professionally, although neither is considered a high-level prospect.
“I’d really like for him to have that moment,” Black said.
Calbick said Alex is ready to take the next step, if afforded the opportunity.
“It’s time to move on,” Bob Calbick said. “I hope he gets to continue playing, I think he’s good enough, and he wants to.”
Both papa Black Bears are proud of what their sons have accomplished at UMaine, on and off the field.
Alex Calbick graduated from UMaine this month with a degree in civil engineering, which has meant a rigorous schedule trying to balance baseball and academics.
“Engineering’s a tough grind at the best of times,” said Calbick, whose older son Kevin also played college ball and earned an engineering degree. “My boys did something I don’t think I could have done.”
Chris Black described his son’s career at UMaine as “bonus baseball,” simply because of the great opportunity it afforded him. He referred to his son’s successes as “the icing on top of the icing on the cake.”
Calbick said Alex will look back with no regrets.
“I’m just happy the way he turned out,” he said. “He’s enjoying his life. He’s doing what he wants to do.”
Although it was baseball that attracted Black to UMaine, the history major has benefitted in many ways.
“He’s been able to go to school and be exposed to new things and still continue to play baseball,” Chris Black said. “The people he’s met have just been amazing.”