UAAP Season 81 was a dream season for Iggy Escaño. He had just won a championship with De La Salle University as one of its top hitters, and he also received the Most RBIs award.
However, fate and Covid-19 had other plans for him. And instead, the national team standout found himself unable to say goodbye to the game on his own terms.
But when conditions improved, and the sport was back on the league’s calendar, Escaño returned to the field with a determination to leave on his own terms.
“I just felt like I didn’t say goodbye to the game the way I wanted to.
“No one wanted the pandemic to happen, and it’s not the way I imagined myself leaving baseball after giving what is now 21 years of my life to the game. It is not the way I wanted to go out,” he shared.
With an opportunity given by coach Joseph Orillana to come back and still play for the national team, Escaño seized the chance to give one more year to the game he loves. He is one of the last two remaining players in the defending champion squad, and the reigning MVP knows that the team has its work cut out for them.
But he is willing to do everything to guide and encourage his young teammates.
“I just try as much as I can to guide them with my experience that I’ve had playing this game, my experience in the UAAP. I just try to give them advice and tell them to calm down. I told them that ‘We trained to be here. It’s normal to feel nervous.’ But there’s no moment too big for them ’cause we worked hard to be here. They all deserved to be here. So, treat this like any other game,” he said.
“Play your game. You’re good enough; that’s why you’re here.'”
On Wednesday, the Green Batters showed their grit and heart in a come-from-behind bounce-back win against National University.
Escaño was elated to see the fighting spirit of his juniors saying, “The game today was way better than the last game. We still had one bad inning, we went down five again early. But in this game, we were able to battle back and hold them in the end.”
Leading by just three at 9-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Green Batters refused to let the comeback as they worked hard for it just to vanish. Escaño saw in this game a glimpse of the team’s fighting spirit and their refusal to give up. “Every game is a huge growing experience for this young team.
“And I feel like after this game, it will continue to show.”
Escaño’s love for the game and his willingness to guide his teammates make him a valuable player and leader. As he plays his last year in the UAAP, he hopes to inspire his team to repeat their championship win and leave the game on their own terms.