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Baseball Veterans

April 26, 2011

After graduating from Forest Hills High School in 2005, Martin Lydon enrolled at BMCC. He’d been a starting outfielder on the FHHS baseball team and chose BMCC primarily because it had a ball club.

But things didn’t work out quite the way he’d planned. So Lydon dropped out and enlisted in the Marines, where he spent the next four years, working primarily as a mechanic and serving deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. After completing his service, he returned to BMCC, where he’s a Liberal Arts major and one of three military veterans on this year’s BMCC baseball team.

Focusing on what’s important

This time around, things are going differently for him. Lydon, who pitches and plays right field, is doing well in his courses and thinking ahead to graduation next year. His plan is to move on to a senior college and, eventually, a career as a gym teacher.

“Being in the military helped me become more focused,” Lydon says. “That’s had a big impact on me—in the classroom and on the ball field.”

For teammate Michael Gervasi, a tour in the Navy has likewise yielded personal benefits on and away from the diamond. A freshman, Gervasi enlisted in 2007 and was initially stationed in Japan, where he worked as a boiler technician and diesel engine mechanic. He completed his service in Washington State last year.

Why BMCC? “A year before I got out of Navy, I started researching colleges and was impressed by its great reputation and reviews—plus it had a baseball team,” he says.

In his first at-bat in BMCC’s opening game against Bergen Community college on March 14, Gervasi got the Panthers’ first hit of the season and went on to score their first run.

“To make it in the military, you have to be able to multitask,” he says. “I know that committing to play baseball and be a student can be a challenge, but my military experience has definitely helped me.”

Gervasi is majoring in business administration and eventually hopes to earn a Bachelors degree in sports management. After that? “I’d like to have a career in sports—perhaps as a general manager, coach or even an agent,” he says.

Batting .400—on the field and in class

Baseball, says team captain Edwin Marrero, “has always been my passion.” At 17, fresh out of George Westinghouse High School, he enlisted in the Marines, and saw duty in California, Japan, Iraq and Thailand. After his discharge, he came to BMCC.

“It seemed to be the perfect place to get back to where I left off—especially for someone like myself who’d been out of school for so long,” says Marrero, who hopes to attend LIU in the fall and major in physical therapy.

Meanwhile, the team’s starting catcher is keeping things very much on track. His first game this season was a replay of last season’s final contest: He posted two hits, drove in two runs and scored once. The stats tell the story: As of this writing, he’s batting .400 on the season with four RBIs—and a 3.7 GPA.

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  • All three agree that military service has made them more disciplined students—and athletes
  • Says Gervasi: “To make it in the military, you have to be able to multitask”
  • Marrero: “BMCC seemed like the perfect place to get back to where I left off”

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