The Oswego State baseball team will be without one of its captains and best players for the remainder of the season due to a broken hand.
Senior Mike Levy was the Lakers starting shortstop and number two hitter in the batting order before he heard a pop while taking a swing during a game in South Carolina over spring break.
Levy’s season encountered an unfortunate occurrence during a seemingly harmless play. Levy has been a part of the Oswego State baseball program for the past four years, and over that time he has taken thousands of swings. It just happens that his final swing in South Carolina may have been his final swing in a Laker uniform.
On the play, Levy made contact with the ball, but when he was retired by the opposing center fielder, coach Frank Paino pulled him from the game. He got an X-ray in South Carolina and was cleared to play, but when he tried to swing a bat again he physically could not. Levy had another X-ray in New York where doctors told him his hand was broken. He underwent surgery last week to remove the hamate bone in his hand.
The question for Levy now is if he will play baseball again and if so, where? Before his injury, Levy was offered to play in the Continental League and was scheduled to fly down to Texas to play after his graduation in May. Now, he will be unable to do that, but he does have other options. Since his injury occurred early in the season, Levy is eligible to play next season if he enrolls in the Oswego State Graduate program next fall.
Levy could also decide to look for a job outside of baseball after graduation. He is completing two degrees in public justice and marketing, with a cumulative GPA of 3.7 and is a member of several honor societies. He was named first-team all-SUNYAC last season and received the SUNYAC Chancellor’s Award, given to the player on the all-conference team with the highest GPA.
"I’m keeping my options open," Levy said.
Paino has coached the Oswego State baseball team since 1987, and coached Levy for the past four seasons. Paino said Levy is able to get himself going for a game, which affects the players around him, especially the younger members of the team. As one of the Lakers four captains, Levy has always thought of himself as a player who leads by example. Now that he will be watching the rest of the games from the bench, Levy has had to adapt to his new role on the team.
"I see certain things now I otherwise wouldn’t have noticed," Levy said. "I try to motivate guys and give them tips for their next at bat if I see something."
Paino says Levy is a guy who keeps the bench motivated and picks people up when they’re down. He still has a positive influence on the team even though he is not able to play.
"He is still a leader in the weight room," Paino said. "He does everything we could ask."
Levy is looking to the team’s other captains to pick up most of the slack, now that he is forced to watch instead of play. Senior captains Bryan Stark, Andy Salvatore and Matt Deveney will have the brunt of the responsibility when leading the Lakers on the field. Levy calls his fellow captains great players who are more than capable to lead the team.
Levy is a four-year starter at Oswego State, playing shortstop in each of those years. He said he likes playing for the Lakers because they play hard-nose baseball. According to Levy, players do not care about their image; they just go out there and play. He said coach Paino is the one who gives them the mindset to play with a tough mentality.
"I couldn’t have asked for anything better," Levy said when talking about his time with the Lakers.
Paino says that even though Levy is unable to play, he still attends every practice and game, helping out in any way he can.
"We are a different team without him," Paino said. "I think we’ve adapted to not having him in the lineup, but have not overcome it."
Levy says he is not sure if he will be playing for the Lakers next season, as he is still weighing his options. He said he is about "50-50" on the situation. Whatever his decision, his impact on the baseball team will not be forgotten.
"Being able to pick up two degrees and play baseball…I couldn’t ask for anything more," Levy said.