Smiling, happy and upbeat, Dylan Newman gives the impression that he doesn’t have a care in the world. “It’s all good,” he said.
Except — not that one can tell by his demeanor — Newman has been going through a difficult battle ever since he was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer in 2018. He was out of baseball for two years, one year while he underwent chemotherapy and last year when the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the high school baseball season. Now the Southold High School junior is back and playing for the First Settlers.
Thus the smile.
What is it like to be playing ball again with his teammates?
“Really cool,” he said. “I mean, it makes me happy to be back on the field.”
How does he feel?
“I feel good,” he said. “I’m doing good. I’m playing, so it’s always good.”
Newman, who is still making trips to New York City and Commack for treatment, not only played in the first game this season, but has played in about seven of the team’s 11 games, said coach Greg Tulley. He played both games of a split doubleheader against visiting Hampton Bays Tuesday, serving as the designated hitter in an 18-4 five-inning win and manning third base in an 8-3 loss in the nightcap.
It must seem like a bizarre journey for Newman, who played about half his eighth-grade season before being diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma.
The community has since rallied around him and his family. His team has embraced him.
“I never even heard him talk bad about one person,” said junior Tom Cardi, who figures he has played ball with Newman since they were 5. “You can’t meet a nicer kid than him.”
Tulley is struck by how well Newman has handled the adversity.
“Everything that Dylan is going through, his attitude every day is unbelievable, honestly,” the coach said. “He’s just happy to be here and happy to be hanging out with the guys and everything. I mean, he also loves baseball, too. I’m pretty sure he’s pretty thrilled to be back.”
Tulley said that just by talking to Newman “you would have no idea what he has gone through the last couple of years. You would have no idea. It is amazing. That’s what I’m saying. His attitude every day is incredible, especially considering the circumstances.”
Newman is part of a Southold team that is 7-4 overall and in Suffolk County League VI, just one win away from clinching a playoff berth.
In Tuesday’s first game, Southold used a 10-run second inning and a seven-run third to back a fine outing by Brendan Duffy. Duffy recorded nine strikeouts while allowing three earned runs, six hits and three walks over five innings.
Meanwhile, RBIs could be found up and down Southold’s lineup, starting with Cardi, who had five of them in a 3-for-3 showing. Luke Newman (Dylan’s cousin), Gavin Fredricks and Jamie Engels drove in three runs each. Engels and Stephen Palermo are the only seniors on the young Southold team.
Hampton Bays (5-4, 5-4) received two hits apiece from David Catena and Kai Leporati, who also had an RBI and two stolen bases, as well as two RBIs from Gus Schmidt.
Southold’s huge second inning started innocuously enough when Luke Newman reached first base on a dropped third strike and a Fredricks popup was misplayed but turned into a fielder’s-choice out, regardless. Later, a two-out rally brought in the last five of the 10 runs scored that frame. Highlighting the rally were Luke Newman’s two-run single off the third-base bag, Fredricks’ rope of a two-run double, Bobby Corazzini’s RBI single and an RBI triple ripped by Engels.
Southold faced a tough pitcher in Leporati in the second game. Leporati fired 13 strikeouts in his four-hitter, two of those hits coming in the final seventh inning. The righthander issued one walk and hit a batter.
Mickey Bracken knocked in three runs for the Baymen.
Dylan Newman went 1-for-5 in the twinbill, with two runs scored, two walks and three strikeouts. He had two assists and caught a line drive in the second game.
With all the chemotherapy and radiation treatment Dylan Newman has gone through, getting back on the baseball diamond may be doing him a world of good.
“That’s what he needed,” Cardi said. “He needed baseball.”