Senior Baseball Player Living Second Chance

Ryan Coyle, Sports Reporter

Baseball has always provided comfort for senior accounting major Tom Jacob.

The Hatboro, Pa. native remembers playing catch in the yard with his father as a child and playing on his first organized team as a five-year-old. He said those activities were his first steps to becoming a pitcher for the men’s baseball team.

But everything changed on Thanksgiving 2019 when Jacob fell ill. A series of tests revealed a cancer diagnosis, which threatened both his life and love of baseball.

“The first thought that came to mind was that my life was potentially over,” Jacob said. “I really struggled with the reality of the situation. A big part of me was left wondering why this had to happen to me, and felt like I had done something wrong.”

Luckily, he said, doctors were able to diagnose the cancer before it spread throughout his body. He had his first surgery a month later, and he then began chemotherapy.

While fighting for his life was his main priority, Jacob said he often worried that his baseball career was over.

“After hearing of the potential side effects of the cancer treatment, I was left with several questions and doubts about whether or not I would still be able to take the field,” he said.

The hospital staff and his family were always there to remind him to stay positive, though. He said his time in the hospital reminded him of all the relationships he has been able to build thanks to baseball.

“The game of baseball means a lot to me because it has given me the opportunity to build great relationships with hundreds of wonderful people,” Jacob said. “Baseball even gave me the chance to create a deeper bond with my father through our love for sports.”

Tom Jacob, senior accounting major and pitcher for the baseball, team winds up for a pitch. (Courtesy of Misericordia Athletics)

As he continued to get treatment and work through physical rehabilitation, Jacob said he began to feel more hopeful for the day he would return to the field. The pandemic brought the men’s baseball team’s season to a screeching halt after 13 games, but he was still determined to return to the team for his last year.

His determination paid off, as Jacob said he is back with his teammates and hoping for a historic final season.

“Our team goals for this season include working toward winning our 10th straight MAC Freedom Championship,” Jacob said.

Jacob has his mind set on success, but he said above all he is really happy just to be able to get back out on the mound again.

“I am most looking forward to taking the field with my teammates,” Jacob said. “I am especially excited to step on the field with the eight other seniors that have been with me through my time here at Misericordia. Our team all lost the opportunity to play baseball last year and I am excited for the chance to regroup and take the field together.”

He said being diagnosed with cancer made him reflect on his life, and he has since vowed to make the most of what he calls his second chance.

“I am extremely grateful that the effects of the cancer treatment have been limited and have not completely restricted me from playing baseball. I believe that the fresh and new perspective towards baseball may actually give me the competitive edge needed to exceed expectations before my cancer process,” he said.

He said wants those out there who might be going through battles of their own to know that it is possible to come back and do what you love once again as long as you remain positive through the process and take it one day at a time.

“It is an overwhelming process if you try to solve all of the issues at once,” Jacob said. “I am exactly one year removed from chemotherapy treatment and I feel that I am back to full strength. Rely on your friends and family for mental, physical and emotional support. Remember that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors.”