LeROY — Wayne Meyer’s senior count isn’t very high among his 2020 LeRoy baseball roster.
It’s a mere two. But there’s more to that statistic than meets the eye.
Half of the figure is made up by Bobby Spratt, one of three in the Spratt family whose senior spring sports season is up in the air during the coronavirus pandemic.
The other half is an athlete very familiar to Wayne, who’s in his 25th season as the Panthers’ baseball coach.
His son, Colin Meyer.
“Initially, it was very tough,” Wayne said. “As time has gone on, it’s one of those where I’ve talked to Colin a lot about it, and he’s got a very good attitude in terms of this is something everybody’s dealing with.
“And it’s not just us.”
No, it isn’t. High-schoolers around the state and nation are affected by the ongoing pandemic.
But a much smaller percentage of these competitors are missing out on one last chance to be coached by a parent.
Wayne had that opportunity with elder son, Trey, in 2017.
He may not get it with Colin, especially if the Illinois High School Association’s current May 1 return date for spring sports winds up changing.
“Going into last year, if you would’ve said something like this was going to happen, I wouldn’t believe you,” Colin said. “It would sound so far-fetched. But it’s certainly a disappointing situation we’re in right now.”
Colin was a key LeRoy basball varsity contributor for the first time as a junior in 2019. He hit .363 with 23 RBI for the Panthers’ third regional-champion club in the last four seasons.
Wayne’s teams have been highly successful in Colin’s career, boasting 65 wins in the first three campaigns.
“It’s been really special, and I’m really glad that I’ve been a part of something so great,” Colin said. “I’m certainly grateful for that experience.”
Wayne is eight victories shy of 400 for his own tenure with the Panthers. He also is familiar with life-changing medical events — at least on an individual scale — as the recipient of a 2016 kidney transplant.
“What I experienced before always helps bring me back to the center in terms of perspective,” Wayne said. “When I was really sick, if you would’ve said, ‘Would you trade your baseball season to get through this and feel better again?’ I would’ve done it in a heartbeat.
“So while this is disappointing in a broader view of things, there’s more important things.”
Such as family.
Wayne has coached Colin since sixth grade. Colin said he’s never had trouble separating the labels “Dad” and “Coach” when the two occupy a diamond together.
“It certainly tightened our bond a little bit,” Colin said. “It kind of grew us closer. I think last year (winning a regional title) was the most memorable moment, at least certainly for me, (in) my baseball career. It really shows a reflection of what he can do as a coach.”
Wayne estimates he’s been associated with some sort of springtime sport since he was in second grade. That alone makes the pandemic-forced shutdown of LeRoy baseball a unique event in Wayne’s athletic career.
Simultaneously, that background allows Wayne to recognize his good fortune up to this point.
“I told my wife, ‘I’ve gotten to see him play more than most any parents ever get to see their kid,’” Wayne said. “If this is how the playing part of his career ends — being able to be on back-to-back regional title teams — it’s something not many kids get to experience.”
Colin’s time in competitive baseball will cease in 2020, regardless of whether the Panthers suit up for any games.
He’s heading to Parkland College next, considering a major in the English field.
So, yes, he and his father can recall plenty of fond memories from their time as pupil and coach. That doesn’t mean Colin wasn’t hoping to create a few more in his senior year.
“It’d be really special (to get back on the field),” Colin said. “Anything, at this point, is all that I’d want. ... Even just one more time.”
Wayne, too, is aware his last LeRoy baseball moments with Colin may have occurred in March preseason workouts.
“I’ve been a realist with it,” Wayne said. “I’ve looked at it realistically of it’s a long shot (we’ll play) and just brace for that possibility, and then hope for the best at that point.”