The baseball diamond can mean many things to different players. For some, it means a chance to prove themselves, others look at it as a place to make dreams come true.
For Downingtown West junior catcher Jay Slater, the diamond became a place to heal as he dove into the sport to immerse himself in after the tragic death of his older brother Tommy, who died tragically in a accident at the tender age of nine. Slater was only eight-years-old at the time and he found some semblance of normalcy in baseball.
“We were just one year apart and very close,” Slater said. “My way of coping was baseball. I watched baseball every single day. I played in the backyard every single day from sunrise to sunset.
I went to the fields and practiced hitting with my dad. I started an annual whiffle ball tournament in Tommy’s honor in my backyard.”
And immerse himself in baseball Slater certainly did. He started as the varsity catcher at Downingtown West as a freshman and in 2022, he hit .261 with on base percentage of .346. Defensively, he threw out seven basestealers.
Slater has already committed to one of the best baseball programs in the country, Duke University, and is ranked as the number two catcher in Pennsylvania by Perfect Game Scouting services.
“Jay is a relentless worker who is always looking to improve his game,” Downingtown West coach Scott Rambo said. “His baseball IQ is through the roof and our pitchers really trust him because they know he is going to call a great game and put them into a position to be successful.
“Defensively, he is as good as you will find at this level and his offense is improving. He also has the intangibles that every coach looks for. He is humble, coachable and mature for his age and he wants to win. I can’t wait to see him perform for the nest two years in our program.”
After the death of his older brother, baseball became Slater’s sanctuary and he says that the dark realities of the situation has fueled his desire to be the best he can be on the diamond.
“I started as a young kid who was average at baseball and that event gave me the motivation to become what I am today,” Slater said. “I just know that Tommy would be happy for me knowing that I am able to do something that makes me very happy.
Committing to Duke University this past summer was good because I was able to put the stress of the recruiting process behind me.
“My goals for the 2023 season are to keep getting better and hopefully help our team win more games in the Ches-Mont,” he said. “We also want to win a district title. I just know that my brother will be very happy for me doing what I love, and that is playing baseball.”
For Jay Slater the best is yet to come. his desire, passion and talent he displays on the baseball field is a testament to hard work, dedication and a steely resolve that a tragic life event has fueled in a very special baseball player and young man.