How can it be that a town known for its ice, inside of a country known for the athletes it produces on ice, is responsible for producing one of the premier players Stony Brook baseball has seen since the turn of this century?
Roughly 575 miles (a 10-hour car ride) away from one another, Cole Peragine looks to make his journey from his hometown of Belle Ewart, Ontario, to Stony Brook, N.Y., appear as a seamless transition.
“The biggest thing to get used to is living on your own,” Peragine said as his eyes narrowed and his lips pursed at the corners, “that and the level which the game is played.”
No one could blame Peragine for having to get accommodated to living on his own, let alone having to simultaneously deal with the rigors of being a major Division I college athlete. On top of that, he was not just transitioning from a different state, but a different nation.
The fallacy of Americanism is that we sometimes have the concept that stereotypes are guilty until proven innocent. In this case, how could a young man from Canada, seemingly the hockey capital of the world, find his way onto a baseball diamond?
“I really only just played street hockey growing up,” Peragine said as his smile indicated that he had answered this before and was no stranger to folks thinking he was bound for a life on skates, not cleats.
“Heading into my freshman year [of high school], that’s when I knew,” Peragine said concerning his future in baseball. “I knew I would have to put in the work, and that coming to the States was a real possibility.”
It is easy to imagine all six feet and 180-pounds of Peragine shoveling out the snow around the shortstop position on a sandlot, with his own personal Mr. Miyagi feeding him knowledge of Honus Wagner, Ernie Banks, Derek Jeter and other legendary shortstops of days gone by.
For Peragine, that mentor was his father.
“[I] remember him always hitting me ground balls, working on me with my fielding,” Peragine said.
Those countless hours spent with no eyes trained on him but those of his father have turned Peragine into not only a four-year D-I starter, but also a potential pro prospect. Baseball America has Peragine ranked as the sixth best prospect within the America East Conference for the 2014-15 season.
In his freshman year, Peragine tasted the sweetest champagne at the table by making the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.. For any player at any school in the entire nation to accomplish such a feat is an incredible achievement, but to do it your first year on campus at a school that had to overcome incredible obstacles just to get to that point, it seems almost improbable.
“Our goal is definitely to get back there [Omaha],” Peragine said, “and that all starts with winning our conference.”
During his sophomore and junior seasons, Peragine started in 107 games for Stony Brook. He followed up his rookie campaign with another strong season, in which he batted .289, and struck out only once every 10.1 at-bats. Last season he ranked top ten in the conference in runs scored (34), RBIs (36), walks (31), triples (four) and stolen bases (13).
When you’re as talented at something as Peragine is at baseball, it’s difficult to see a life beyond it. Although he’s never pulled in a check worth six figures, Peragine still believes the dream can last forever. What about life beyond the diamond though, once it’s all over?
“I can see myself becoming a firefighter,” Peragine said.
While Peragine’s future may consist of putting out fires, he looks to light one in the Seawolves this season and lead them back to the College World Series.