About 30 miles west of Boston, Tommy Leimkuhler ’21 first fell in love with the game of baseball. “I started playing when I was around four, but growing up, sports were always on the TV in my house, and my dad especially loved the Red Sox, so they were always on. I remember going around the back of my house and throwing on the pitch back, just trying to mimic what I saw on TV,” Leimkuhler recalled.
These early memories came to serve as a foundation for Leimkuhler’s love and dedication to baseball. The Acton, MA resident primarily plays pitcher, “but can also play anywhere the team needs [him].” Leimkuhler’s willingness to adapt served him well during his recruiting process that was threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Leimkuhler described losing his junior year season as “very tough.” He added, “Most of baseball’s recruiting is in the summer and so with the NCAA Dead Period no coaches could really come out to see me play, so it was mostly sending videos.”
Leimkuhler, despite this adversity, was still able to find a home at the next level. He is committed to Holy Cross for baseball along with teammate Tyler Mudd ’21.
When asked about the last year’s season, in Leimkuhler’s typical unselfish manner, he mostly lamented on the fact that his teammates from the Class of 2020 had to miss their senior season. “We had a great team last year, we had a deep pitching staff. We had eight kids who were going on to pitch in college, so we would’ve been very successful,” he remarked.
Teammate Ryan McHugh ’23 said about Leimkuhler, “Tommy is a class act on and off the field who possesses a ‘we over me’ mentality. He wears his heart on his sleeve and plays every game like it’s his last.” Similarly, teammate Henry Foster ’22 described Leimkuhler as “a class act guy that everyone wants to be around.”
Leimkuhler’s silent but unmissable leadership has left lasting impressions on teammates such as Peter Shea ’23, who remarked that “Tommy is a natural leader. Whether it be basketball or baseball, he seeks perfection in each rep and expects the same from us. His hustle is really admirable to the team.”
It is not hard to see why Leimkuhler was selected as captain despite only a three year tenure on the team. Head Coach Patrick Moriarty attributed Leimkuhler’s great leadership and success to “his fierce competitive nature and high baseball IQ.” Assistant Coach Raymond DeMartino added to this by saying, “Tommy is someone the entire team can rely on to give 100% no matter what the day or who the opponent is. His work ethic and focus in practice is unrivaled. He carries that same focus into games when he pitches, which is why I think he’s having such a strong senior year.”
This dedication and strong leadership was only strengthened when he saw the tribulations that friend and teammate Andy Pelc ’21 had to endure. Leimkuhler recalled, “I’ve known Pelcy since I was 13, we played on the same youth baseball team, and he’s actually the one that convinced me to come to Deerfield. He tore his ACL that season, and despite that, still continued to show up to all the practices even though he lived an hour and a half away.” Leimkuhler continued, “Then, again, prior to this season he tore his other ACL. Still, he’s supporting from the sidelines every day. That strength and determination inspired me as a friend, teammate, and baseball player.”
Leimkuhler also spoke about teammate Kevin Griffin ’21 and how proctoring sophomores with him on Field 2 has improved their chemistry. “Kevin and I get along great, whether it be proctoring or on the [baseball] field. We’re always on the same page of things and that helps when we’re up the middle together in the infield, or if I’m pitching and he’s behind me at [shortstop] or [second base]. The connection we have definitely helps,” Leimkuhler said.
Further reflecting on his proctorship, Leimkuhler added, “I’m grateful for the experience because it allowed me to meet kids in different grades, and it’s cool expressing to them how much I love Deerfield. I’ve found it particularly rewarding being able to help out the new sophomores during this year, which is obviously not normal Deerfield.”
Leimkuhler’s proctee and new sophomore Jarvis Shema ’23 expressed how appreciative he is of Leimkuhler’s mentorship during this tough school year. “Tommy had a great influence on me from the time I stepped onto campus . He made adjusting to Deerfield easier, and he has always been there for me. He’s a true role model, and I’m thankful for all that he has done for me and the rest of the hall,” Shema remarked.
In addition to possessing a “cannon of an arm,” as described by Foster, Leimkuhler has set a golden standard for Deerfield baseball players and been a tremendous leader on and off the field during his three years in the Valley.