Playing baseball together for over 30 years can do one of two things: either bring you closer together, or drive you further apart. For Jody Peterson, Stephen McCarty and Mike Lint it is certainly the first option.
“Jody and Riv [McCarty] are like brothers to me,” says Lint of his two close friends. “God knows we certainly fight like brothers.”
Having known each other since they were five years old, the trio grew up playing high levels of baseball together throughout the years: Mosquito AAA, Beaver AAA, Bantam AAA, Midget AAA, Fredericton Junior Vikings, and finally the Senior Royals team.
That’s a lot of time spent together over a 30+ year span, and it has certainly brought the three closer together. Lint has felt some tension however since he stopped playing and decided to take over the managerial duties of the Fredericton Peterbilt DQ Royals.
“It has been very challenging. It’s a very difficult and stressful job to have to walk the fine line between being their coach and being their friend. It’s tough because I have to make sure I’m treating them the same as the other players. I don’t want guys to feel as though they gain favoritism because they are my friends – and I also don’t want to be harder on them than I am on the others. Needless to say this has led to a few heated conversations, both on and off the field.”
“The only downside to this new relationship with Mike as our coach is that he can be a bit of a hard ass,” says Peterson. “He has been known to randomly bench me. He would have me believe it’s in my best interest, however we agree to disagree on that.”
With all three of them being closer to 40 than 30, the two that are still playing, Peterson and McCarty, have both had thoughts about hanging up the cleats, but it’s been the presence of the other two that has always brought them back to the field.
“Playing with Jody and Mike has meant the world to me,” says McCarty. “I would likely have retired many years ago if it hadn’t been for the two of them staying with the program.”
“There was a point two years ago when I thought I was going to retire,” Peterson admits, “but Mike agreed to take on the coaching with Buck [Jamie Estey]. I’ve been able to get back to playing and doing the off field Royals stuff I enjoy, and it has been fun again, so as long as these guys are here I’m likely not going anywhere.”
Just like every family it hasn’t always been clear skies and sunny days for these three, they have gone through their fair share of rainy days. McCarty recalls a time when he was searching for a path in life, and Peterson and Lint were right there to help him along his journey.
“When I was in my early twenties I didn’t know where I was going and if I remember correctly I didn’t even have a decent job. These guys were a constant in helping me through my struggles and would never say to me, ‘River you owe me X amount and I want it now’. Instead they were patient with me, more like big brothers and I owe them more than I can ever repay them. I remember when my mother moved to Hainesville and I was so upset. All I could think was how the hell am I going to be able to be with my friends and play ball? I had no car, heck I had no license until I was 23 or 24. Yet the guys allowed me to stay with them as long as they could multiple times.”
That time in McCarty’s life epitomizes what the three mean to each other. Family doesn’t turn their back on each other in moments of need, and Lint and Peterson certainly didn’t do that to their brother.
For all the time they have spent together, both on and off the field, they still find time for each other when they aren’t at the ball field, whether it is through playing cards, or having a fire in the back yard. With all the stories these three brothers have, they all agree the best is yet to come.
“I’m actually hoping our best story is to come this fall,” says Peterson. “We’ve been playing for that elusive National Senior Championship for 15 years together. It hasn’t been on baseball hill since 1981 and we want to bring it back together.”