Jason Repko lost something in the offseason. He knew it. He felt it.
An outfielder for 14 seasons in professional baseball, including seven seasons spent in the majors, he lost the desire to be on the field every single day.
But he still wanted to feel that way. That’s the thing. He wanted to feel that fire again. So even when no organization offered him an invitation to spring training, he felt like he needed to try the Atlantic League. A friend, Brett Tomko, phoned in the offseason, and they played together for York. Repko thought that would help.
Give it some time, he kept telling himself.
Almost a month into the season, Repko knew he had a decision to make.
“I came here hoping to get that feeling back in my heart ... but I had a hard time getting that desire to be here every day,” Repko said Monday, a day after retiring from playing baseball.
...He batted .253 in 24 games and didn’t miss a single one. Even after telling Mason he would retire, he showed up for optional batting practice. He made a sliding catch in the outfield. He threw out a runner at home. He shook his head on strike calls that he believed didn’t go over the plate. And this was all in the last week of his career. The majors weren’t calling him back. Still, he had to go all out.
Before he came to York, he explained why he crashed into walls instead of letting up and allowing the ball to drop—even though he knew catching the ball might mean he would be injured. He had to put everything he had into baseball. He was the answer to that old rock-and-roll refrain, it’s better to burn out than fade away. When that desire was gone, he felt like he too had to leave.