When I initially heard today about a story of a baseball player who moved into an assisted living facility, my first inclination was to congratulate Jamie Moyer on his new home. But no, this is (sadly?) the tale of a 25-year-old playing for the Lake Erie Crushers of the independent Frontier League who’s just trying to scrap his way up the baseball ladder. And likes to watch reruns of “Diagnosis Murder”.
In the Frontier League, players normally live with host families in order to cut down on costs. Well, it just so happens that Josh Faiola’s host family is the Belvedere of Westlake assisted living facility. And the residents are acting like Babe Ruth just moved into the building. Imagine having 100 sets of grandparents — and living with all of them. Welcome to Josh’s world.
Faiola’s taking it all in stride, happy with the fact that he has his own apartment while other players are living with families who have small children. CNN says he better not let his “family” down, though, considering the over-the-top enthusiasm they have for hosting a guy who’s not even in a major league team’s system:
It has turned into an exciting time for the residents, who jumped at the chance to decorate the entire facility before the pitcher’s arrival.
“You should see the decorations,” (Cindy) Griffiths-Novak said. “The residents all signed motivational good luck pennants for him, there’s a 40-foot banner, we have a whole thing dedicated to Josh. I’m sure he is so embarrassed with all of the baseball cards with their face on it.”
They’ve made signs telling him he’s in a league of his own, but they’ve also set their expectations high for him.
“Some of the pendants say things like ‘Don’t get cut, move your butt,’ ” Griffiths-Novak said. “He’s certainly going to be under the microscope! We’ll be watching and keeping track of all of his stats.”
One resident couldn’t resist a chance to get in a dig at the area’s struggling big-league team:
Eighty-four-year-old Meda Dennis, who has been living in the center for four years, said Faiola’s arrival is the most exciting thing to happen since a good Elvis impersonator showed up…
Dennis is looking forward to watching their new ace pitcher hit the mound even though she hasn’t seen a baseball game live in a while.
“Anything’s better than the Indians right now,” Dennis joked. “We’ll definitely be cheering for him, though, and if he happens to have a bad game, he’ll have a lot of shoulders to cry on. But I don’t think he’ll need them.”
That’s what it’s come to, Indians fans. Your team has gone from a 3-1 lead in the 2007 ALCS to getting blasted in the media by 84-year-olds for sucking in a matter of 18 months.
Faiola, who was once in the Orioles organization prior to having surgery, is trying to get back in a big-league system, and apparently doesn’t mind being a stand-in grandson:
“I always loved spending time with my grandparents and one of my great-grandparents was in an assisted living home and I remember how excited she was to see us when we went to visit her,” he said. “And they are being so nice to open up this place to me, so hopefully I can bring a little bit of joy.”
That’s all nice, but what if he meets a girl he wants to bring home? “By the way, I live with my grandparents. 180 of them. Still wanna come back to my place?” (Maybe more Australian rugby players should live in this situation).