The East Mountain Timberwolves were at the Cobre Invitational baseball tournament in southern New Mexico when the team got the unexpected news.
“We were at the field warming up for the first game and then a bunch of people came on the field and told us to get off—the whole tournament’s been canceled,” East Mountain senior Tommy Morgan said.
Morgan, a starting pitcher and infielder, said the players just got on their bus and drove back to the East Mountains.
“That bus ride back was terrible, everyone kept to themselves, it was quiet for four and a half hours,” he said.
After cruising to a 6-1 win in their March 10 season opener at St. Michael’s High School in Santa Fe—where Morgan and fellow senior Dominik Chavez split the pitching duties—the Timberwolves’ spirits couldn’t have been higher.
“This year we’re literally a better team,” Morgan said. “We gained a great freshman and we had an even better connection this year than last year.”
Then the coronavirus brought everything to a halt.
As public schools were put on hiatus, the New Mexico Activities Association followed suit and put all spring sports on hold.
“At that time, we thought we were gonna resume and still get half the season in,” Morgan said. “None of us thought it was gonna be shut down.”
The NMAA planned on meeting April 1 to discuss the matter further, but when the state canceled schools for the remainder of the school year, the NMAA pulled the plug on all spring sports.
“I just went up to my room and didn’t talk to anyone,” Morgan said. “Then [East Mountain’s head baseball coach Dave] Naylor called me and said how sorry he was, and we talked about the great team we had.”
Morgan said that’s the worst part about the canceled season—the potential this year’s team had.
In 2019, East Mountain finished 21-8 and was ranked No. 2 in Class 3A and made it to the state quarterfinals.
“Everything we were building from last year, now we don’t even get a chance,” Morgan said, noting that his senior teammates, Chavez and Will Merkey, are in the same boat. “Will and Dom, we’re all feeling the same thing, we feel kinda cheated, we just feel like we had a really good opportunity taken away from us.”
Morgan has been playing baseball since he was 5 or 6 years old and said it’s tough not playing the game he loves.
“Without being able to leave the house, I don’t have a lot to do,” he said. “It’s always been something I look forward to. Getting on the field with the other guys always makes my day better.”
He said he’s not planning on playing baseball in college and is going to Colorado State University in the fall to study graphic design. He said he’s been interested in graphic design for a few years and enjoys “doing stuff with Photoshop.”
Morgan said he’s heard about a possible baseball tournament the Albuquerque Baseball Academy is trying to put together for seniors this summer.
“Naylor told us a little bit about it, so that’s giving us some hope,” Morgan said. “If we can do that, all of us are on board with it.”
For now, he said he’s occupying his time doing “prison cell workouts,” and playing video games. “Anything I can do with sports,” he said.
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.