Only the good die young

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 5, 2004

By GEORGE MAHL – Sports Editor

As I walked into the office Monday morning, I received some terrible news.

I was told that an East St. John baseball player was murdered early Sunday morning.

The young man’s name was Josh Sylvan. Having covered numerous East St. John baseball games over the last couple of years, I had spoken to Josh on a couple of occasions. He seemed to be a pretty down to earth type of guy.

A funny man.

I remember standing in the dugout at an East St. John home game earlier this year taking pictures when Josh said to a player “why are you being quiet”. At that point, it was funny because just about everyone in the dugout was not saying much of anything. I could not help but laugh when I heard him say that.

“He would be a clown in the dugout sometimes,” is what ESJ head coach Macky Waguespack told me last week.

Sylvan was more than a clown.

He was a leader, a caring person and a son.

He was a type of player that every team could use. Someone to lighten things up, someone to lift others up when they are down.

His record was not that flashy.

For what he did off the field, it didn’t need to be flashy.

“He respected people around campus,” Waguespack said.

I remember a game he pitched in where he was not having a great outing. Waguespack went out to the mound to talk to him and decided to pull him out. As I was standing in the dugout, his teammates were there to let him know that he tried his best. He sat down on the bench and said to Waguespack that he will be ready to pitch if needed for the weekend.

He was killed at around 3 a.m. The time he was killed makes most people think “what was he doing out that late anyway?”

The answer still has not been figured out. It may never be figured out.

I was told that at the team meeting nine days ago when Waguespack informed the team of the tragic news, two or three players stood up and spoke about how Sylvan touched each of their lives in his own way.

They did not have to do that, but they wanted to.

For the remainder of the year, the Wildcats will honor Sylvan by hanging his jersey in the dugout and wearing his number, 14, on the side of their hats.

Billy Joel once sang a song entitled “Only the Good Die Young.”

I think the “Piano Man” could not have said it any better.