Neil Warner Mug
CRAIG DILGER/Daily Herald Leil Warner

Whenever Pleasant Grove baseball player Jesse De St. Jeor needed some encouragement he looked at his wrist.

Written on top of the white tape on one of his wrists was "Josh 5-5-11.

On the other was, "Jenn and Tali, Families are forever."

It was a reminder that baseball is not life despite what it says on bumper stickers.

De St. Jeor's older brother, Josh Sorensen, 32, passed away unexpectly on Thursday night due to complications from asthma.

He left a wife and 9-month old daughter behind.

So when Pleasant Grove's baseball team took the field for the final time on Friday, De St. Jeor took to opportunity to honor his family.

"Jesse's been a great kid to everyone and he still is even with the heartache he has, he still offers the smile to every kid in the dugout. It's amazing how great he is," said Pleasant Grove coach Darrin Henry. "He's been a great kid all year. When his parents came up for senior day, they had tears in their eyes and it almost crushed you watching that. It probably affected the way he performed, but he left it all out there and tired his best. Jesse is a great kid, it was a sad deal."

Despite the heavy heart De St. Jeor took his normal spot at shortstop and watched his high school career come to an end after Alta beat Pleasant Grove 10-3. The Vikings finished region play off at 7-11 and missed out on the state tournament, snapping a streak of three straight post-season appearances.

After the game, the seniors took pictures and gave hugs and De St. Jeor smiled.

For a few hours his mind focused on something other than funeral arrangements.

De St. Jeor went 0-2 with a walk. He struck out twice and was pinch hit for in the sixth inning, but none of that changed the meaning of what was written on his wrist.

Perhaps he should leave it on as a reminder.

As the season ends for many baseball teams, emotions that have been boiling all season are now taken off the burner. The jerk in the stands who yells and screams like a little boy who needed a time out, resurfaces as that really nice guy next door.

It just takes a second. About the time it takes to swing and miss a baseball for life to change. Someone is gone. A hole in a heart is created, like a dugout batter's box that will never completely be filled in.

What helps at times like this is De St. Jeor knows he's not alone. He has teammates and who are his best friends and family around him to help withstand getting run-ruled by life.

"It took me a few innings to stop thinking about it. It got easier as the game went on but it was still tough," De St. Jeor said. "I think we (Pleasant Grove) played the game the right way. We worked hard and we hustle and we never quit. I love my teammates, especially the seniors; they will be my friends forever."

Baseball isn't life, but the friendships and love shared in the dugout often times carry on long after yearbooks are packed away in boxes and worn out baseball shirts are given away to Deseret Industries.

There are loses on the field and loses off the field. What baseball has done for De St. Jeor is to learn how to handle them both.

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