NORWALK, Conn. – The shouts from the bench, the nicknames and the teasing are just a few signs that Spencer Jacoby and Leon Fleming are comfortable in their roles as leaders on the Norwalk Senior Legion Post 12 baseball team.
Both were key members of last year’s team, which made an improbable run to the program’s first-ever state title in its 85-year history. Jacoby was the tournament MVP, and Fleming earned the win on the mound in the title game. Now, after many of the older players have moved on, the longtime friends have stepped up to keep the spirit of the championship squad alive.
But first they had to hit the batting cage.
For the first time in as long as they could remember, Fleming and Jacoby didn’t play baseball this spring. Friends since kindergarten and teammates for nearly as long, the Norwalk High graduates did not play baseball in college.
“It was weird. We’re usually playing or getting ready to play,” Fleming said. “I didn’t swing a bat once. But we came back, and it was right there for us.”
Fleming attended Central Connecticut State University, while Jacoby said his freshman year at the University of Connecticut was “great.” The two stayed in touch and looked forward to the Legion season.
“A year off from sports is different. I had a great year at UConn, but it feels good to be back for one last go-around,” Jacoby said. “But Coach [Chris] Brown was good about texting us often and making sure we were going to be ready for the season.”
The memories of last year’s magical run to the state title are still fresh in their minds. And the duo was mindful of how chemistry played a huge part in their playoff success.
“We had some great guys like Eric Stenger and Kevin Collie. We just try to do what they did and try to replicate everything they did,” Jacoby said. “We didn’t have the best record last year. We just got hot at the right time, and that was all about leadership.”
Fleming agreed. “Not everybody gets to go through that,” he said. “We had a great bunch of players on that team. They were the reason we won. We had a lot of fun.”
The 2012 Norwalk Senior Legion team is off to a similar start as last year’s squad, battling to a 9-8 record so far. Jacoby said he hopes the camaraderie he and Fleming have will rub off on the team and lead to another playoff run.
“Leon’s the reason I come to the field every day, and there’s nothing weird about it,” Jacoby said with a laugh. “I think that’s why we play so well together. When we’re on the field together we have a good connection.”