The decision was final.
Declan Foy was done playing baseball.
Foy is a recent graduate of Father Judge High School, and after transferring from Wood to Judge his sophomore year, he broke his shoulder midway through the season.
He was a varsity starter right from the start, but the injury really took its toll.
“After my injury, I was down in the dumps, it was the first injury that took me off the field, my first season in varsity, gone,” Foy said. “I was just feeling bad for myself, I needed a break mentally. I was still around the game, I was helping coach St. Matt’s. I still loved the game, I just needed a break.”
He took off junior year, and last year he was working in Wildwood, and everyone who saw him had the same question.
“Yo, you coming out for baseball?”
He was leaning toward no, until he had a conversation with dad.
“My dad called me and said give it one more try,” Foy recalled. “He said you don’t have to play in college. You have one more season. I kept putting it off. And a week before my senior year, he unfortunately passed away a week before my senior year. After that I promised myself I would play. On my glove I wrote one more try. My whole family was in on it, pushing me to play, but after that, it sealed the deal.
“I love baseball, I’m playing in college. It all worked out.”
That’s a pretty big understatement.
Things are going great for Foy. He helped the Crusaders win the Catholic League championship, the city championship and the state championship. It was the first time the school won a state baseball crown. The Crusaders hadn’t won a Catholic League championship since 2000. He did it playing third base for the first time, the same position his mom was All-Catholic in at St. Hubert.
Dad’s advice really put Foy and the Crusaders on the path to a great season, which was the final one at Judge for much of the starting lineup.
Foy was happy to be out there to win, but more than that, he was happy to be reunited with teammates he’s played with all of his life.
“I knew we were good, but that’s not why I came back,” said Foy, a Mayfair native. “Most of these kids, most of the starters, we all played together from when we were really young. Me and Biens (Ryan Biener) have been playing together since first grade, travel ball. Nick (Shiffler), our second baseman, same thing. His dad was one of the best coaches I ever had. He taught me fundamentals I wouldn’t be without him. He was a great coach.
“Most of us, we all played together. I knew we had the talent to win. It was just insane. The chemistry, the unity, we never got on each other’s backs. We never put one another down. We always had each other’s backs.
“We had games where guys weren’t hitting. Top two hitters didn’t get a hit? Bottom of the lineup would come through. We fought and fought and fought every game. This team had a goal, and in our eyes there was nothing that was going to stop us. That was our goal. We wanted the PCL championship, we were getting that. That was our mindset. We will get what we want. We did it for each other.”
The games are over, but the celebration continues.
On Thursday, the team, along with members of the double national championship-winning St. Hubert cheerleading team, will be honored at Cottman and Frankford avenues for their fantastic achievements this year.
“I think it’s going to be a blast,” Foy said. “It’s really cool how involved the city has been. It’s crazy, all of Northeast Philly around Judge, the community. I’ll get stopped down the shore by different Judge guys. It’s unbelievable how much everyone supported us through PCL, through states.
“It’s not registered or sunk in on me how much of an impact my teammates and I made in the community. First time in school history, first time in 20 years PCL, the impact we had in the community was so cool. The Northeast takes our PCL seriously. It was like a home game for us, it was all Judge fans. The crowds in the outfield were all baby blue shirts. One of the coolest things I’ve ever done. The support they gave us, the alumni, it’s been great.”
Foy says he’s lucky to always have great support.
His dad was there for him, and whenever he’s playing baseball, you’ll be sure to see his mom.
“My mom has never missed a game, she’s my biggest supporter,” Foy said. “My grandpop, he’s 83, he’s been coming to my games as long as I have played.”
Next year, they’ll be able to do the same. His dad said give baseball one more season. He’s giving it at least two, and probably many more. He’s bound for Holy Family in the fall where he’ll play for the first-year program.
“It was close, I really like it, and it’s a great school,” Foy said. “And in the past year, with my dad passing, I like being home with my mom and family. It all worked out. I got other scholarships outside of baseball. I want to major in physical therapy. I had to work with them when I was hurt, it seemed like a great major.”
Sounds like dad’s advice was pretty good.
“After we won, I was texting my girlfriend who was on the fan bus,” Foy said. “She never met my dad, but I texted her, ‘I wish my dad could see this.’ He would have had his face painted. He didn’t care what people thought.
“When we won, that last out, it was unbelievable. And our manager, Ryan Mobias, I was walking right before we got our medals. He said your dad would be so proud. I lost it. I broke down. I went in the bathroom crying. He didn’t mean to make me cry, it just hit deep right there. He’s one of my best friends, I love him. He got me. My mom said it, too, he would be so proud of me. Even my uncles and all, they said it, too. That means a lot. A whole lot.”