Fourteen years have passed since Patrick Arlis last experienced what it felt like to be at home on a summer night.
It's hard for him to imagine what has transpired during that span, which began when Arlis, fresh out of Driscoll Catholic (Ill.) High School, left for the University of Illinois with the hopes of earning a walk-on spot on the Fighting Illini baseball roster for the 2000 season.
That turned into an opportunity to earn a roster spot and to later being drafted in the 11th round by the Marlins in 2002, which resulted in a 12-year pro career.
It's exactly why the 6-foot catcher isn't bitter about never reaching the majors, or holding a career .226 batting average in the minors, including a .211 average in 22 games as York's back-up catcher this season.
"To go from being a walk-on to a draft pick to playing for 12 years, I've had a pretty fun ride when I could've been Joe Schmoe or somebody else," Arlis said Sunday.
Arlis played his final game Sunday for the Revs. Packing up items from his locker in the home clubhouse after the game, the 32-year-old paused for a moment to chat about his decision to retire.
"I actually have a job. I'm gonna be teaching fourth, fifth and sixth grade at Kankakee (Ill.) Middle School back at home. It's 10 minutes from my house," he said. "The job popped up out of nowhere and I figured I gotta take it."
Having already earned a bachelor's degree in sports management from Illinois and a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Phoenix, Arlis has spent every offseason since 2007 working as a substitute teacher.
"It started about a month ago when I got an email about the job (at Kankakee). And then I did an interview over the phone and then we had an off day, so I flew home on the off day and taught a lesson in front of the principals," Arlis said. "I was told I got the job but I had to interview with the superintendent, which happened a week later."
Respected as one of the nicest guys in the Revs' clubhouse, Arlis planned to return Monday to his Illinois home, where he lives with his wife.
"I got married in December and we're working on having children. It'll be a nice thing to stay home and be able to be around my kids as they grow up," he said. "My wife teaches, too, so it'll be good to travel in the summer and not have to show up at the field at seven o'clock."
Arlis said school begins Aug. 16. While he's currently focusing on teaching, he's open to the possibility of getting back into baseball in the future as a coach.
"In the aspect of being done with baseball I'd like to step back and relax a little bit. I don't mind having to jump right back but a break would be welcome," he said. "The last time I was home for summer was 1999, right before I left for college. Other than that I don't even know what my house looks like in the summer."
-- Reach John Walk at firstname.lastname@example.org