Once A Mav, Always A Mav
Mercy community pulls together to remember baseball player who passed away.
September 28, 2016
Leaning back on his chair as he’s sitting at a table, Tyler Cinelli looks down at his left arm. He glances at his most recent tattoo. It features a baseball with the letters NJD vertically. Below, it reads “3-28-1996 6-25-2016.”
This tattoo is not just any tattoo. It means more to Cinelli than anyone could ever understand. He looks from his arm to the table and offers a sigh as he’s about to talk.
“Nick Daley was my roommate since freshman year,” the junior studying criminal justice said. “We became roommates thanks to our coach who put us together.”
Cinelli admits the two were nervous to meet each other at first, and that when he first met Daley, he actually scared him.
“He was nervous, but obviously so was I,” Cinelli said as he shared a smile.
The two bonded right off the bat; they had the same interests in music, baseball, football, as well as many other likes. They knew right from the start they would be best friends and have a friendship that would last forever.
Daley was studying finance and was a part of the business honors program on Mercy’s Dobbs Ferry campus. He was a catcher on the baseball team, was involved in many events connected with the business honors, and worked for a camp of Little Leaguers through hard ball on Sundays. His life was cut short on June 25, 2016, killed in a vehicular accident in his hometown of Glen Head, New York.
He’s survived by his parents, Kenneth and Adrienne, sisters Kristin and Jess, and brother Kenny. They often came out to watch him play baseball sporadically throughout the season to show support from the sidelines. When they couldn’t make it, they were there spiritually and were still his biggest fans.
Though Daley may not be here physically, he is with his family and friends, in their hearts.
‘A Swing Through Memory Lane’
No matter who you talk to about Daley, those who knew him best say the same thing. He was good-hearted, fun and lived life to the fullest.
Reflecting on memories with Daley is often difficult for Cinelli, as the two have shared about a million great memories together. There is one memory in particular that Cinelli will always remember about living with Daley; the way he played video games.
“I go to bed pretty early and there’d be nights where I would go to bed as he was playing video games,” Cinelli began to say, “and wake up with him in the same position, still playing video games.”
“Of course he went to bed, but I used to wake up late so it always seemed like he stayed in the same place,” he said as he laughed.
“Living with your best friend for two years is pretty amazing.”
To say wherever the two went, they were always together, is an understatement. They had been to Jet games two years in a row, concerts at Nikon Jones Beach to see Billboard Hot 100 Festival, and even trips down to the Hudson River with a fellow teammate and friend, John Young, a junior majoring in business management.
Young talks about the many practices he shared with Daley, as they always had the earlier practice times. The two would get up extra early for a Dunkin’ Donuts run.
“No matter what day it was, there was always a Dunkin’ run,” Young said.
“And more than half the time, we were usually the only people in Dunkin’ at 5:30 a.m.,” he added as he spoke about many pictures of the two of them.
When Cinelli, Daley, and Young were stressed during school or baseball season, they found an escape route by heading down to the Hudson. There, they built a swing with a fellow teammate who transferred this past year.
“We always go there when we need to get away and just wanted to talk,” Young said.
The two haven’t gone down there since the semester started, but Cinelli says once they get settled in, they will start heading to the Hudson. This time with a deeper meaning.
“It’s always been a spot where we just appreciate the time we have together,” Cinelli said. “But now it’s the spot we can go to, to remember him.”
‘When Bad News Hits Home’
For many of his teammates and friends, the news was too surreal to believe that he was gone.
Matt Nalbone, a senior studying sports management, knew Daley prior to Mercy, as he knew his brother before him. Once they were on the same team, they instantly had a bond that every pitcher and catcher has.
As he stopped for a second remembering that morning in June, Nalbone said, “I woke up to a text that morning and I didn’t want to believe it.”
He added, “But it was true.”
Nalbone knew how great all the Daley family were, and that Daley was just like that. He couldn’t believe something tragic happened to such a great kid.
“I was shell shocked.”
Similar to Nalbone, Cinelli was at work and didn’t believe the news at first, as he says it was a rumor for about an hour or so.
Young admitted it was difficult for him to believe, too. The last time he saw Daley was at one of their summer league games, where he was also on the team with Daley’s brother and cousin.
“I remember watching him leave,” Young recalled. “I don’t know why I was staring at him, but I just was.”
“He was laughing his head off as he was leaving.”
“That’s the last memory I have of him,” Young added as he had a smile on his face, looking down at the table.
After hearing the news, Young quickly texted Daley’s brother and cousin to find out what was really going on.
He hoped it wasn’t true; they all did. But it was.
“Once they confirmed it,” Young said, “It was set in stone.”
Cinelli remembers breaking down and leaving work early that day once it became the truth. Young was in complete shock and upset. The feelings throughout were all the same.
“I was in such disbelief and devastation,” Nalbone said.
Shortly after, social media was flooded with similar feelings in posts about Daley’s passing. Mercy College students took it upon themselves to write statuses reflecting the type of person he was and how they would miss him.
Some were from people who knew Daley, while there were others from people who did not know him personally. Among these posts, they were about how students would miss seeing his smile through the halls and his presence in the cafe.
Rebecca Larkin, a junior studying veterinary technology, wrote messages that were painful to express. “I am absolutely speechless. It doesn’t matter that I’ve never talked to you before; all that matters is that we went to school together and it won’t be the same not seeing you walk through the halls or seeing you play baseball. May you rest in the sweetest peace, Nick Daley.”
Similar to Larkin’s post, Nicoll Baez, a junior studying biology/pre-med wrote, “Today, Mercy lost one of its own. Even though I only had a couple of encounters with him and didn’t know him on a personal level, all the times I saw him, he was smiling and would say hi. My prayers go out to his family and close friends. RIP Nick.”
Cinelli and Young say that’s the type of kid Daley was.
“He always had an impact on everyone he met,” Cinelli said. “He was the type of kid who would give you the shirt off his back.”
“If you weren’t close to him, that didn’t matter to him,” Young said. “He was the kid who held the door for you and picked up whatever it was that you dropped.”
‘Only the Good Die Young’
Daley is described as an incredible person on and off the field, an extremely outgoing person, very intelligent, and one who always liked to have fun. He was larger than life, a magnet of energy and laughter. He possessed humor and leadership to the maximum.
A junior in business honors, Jennifer Abramo wrote on her Facebook how nice Daley was and how glad she was to have had the pleasure of knowing him.
“His laugh and charm could brighten a room.”
Donavion Thomas, a business honors student said even though he didn’t know much about Daley, the two always said ‘what’s up’ to each other in their passings. “We were both a part of the business honors program,” Thomas said. “He was just a nice down to earth kid.”
To show how smart he was, Cinelli and Young say that if either of them had trouble with homework or studying, Daley would drop whatever he was doing and help them.
Young, not sure of what Daley wanted to do after college, said, “Whatever it was, I know he would’ve been successful, that’s for sure.”
Cinelli added, “He never failed, and if he did, he always gave it his best.”
Nalbone and Young agree that Daley always found a way to make fun out of everything they did.
“Anytime we were with him, he made us laugh no matter what, and that was one of the many traits that made him so great,” Nalbone said.
Young and Cinelli instantly thought of Daley with his song to walk onto the field.
“It was always ‘Goofy Goober,’ from the SpongeBob SquarePants movie,” Young said.
Cinelli added, “And that was by choice.”
Cinelli and Young also say that by choice, Daley chose to wear a highlighter headband, which Young says, “Not many people wear headbands, but he did.”
Whenever Daley noticed the people around him were struggling or needed a ‘pick me up,’ he tried his best to help them.
“He always had a remedy to turn a bad situation into a better one,” Cinelli said.
Nalbone says, “Whenever I’d be struggling with pitching, he’d come to me and would just make a joke to make me laugh and lighten up the mood.”
“He always reminded me to have fun playing the game.”
Finding out that your son, brother, best friend, and teammate has passed is heartbreaking. It’s even more heartbreaking when you realize that the kid who was full of life and energy is now gone forever. To honor his life, the Daley family asked everyone who was coming to pay their respects, to wear bright, light colors to remember the brightness their son brought into their lives.
“He never failed at putting a smile on someone’s face.”
A few days after Daley’s passing, the entire Mercy community pulled together and held a candle lighting and memorial for him. It was held on the Mercy field by home plate; there, friends and teammates came together to remember Daley’s life, regardless of how painful it was.
“There was actually a shocking number of people at the gathering we had on the field for him,” Nalbone said. “So many people cared about him and he meant a lot to many of us.”
He admits that when the Maverick family all came together, it helped the grieving process become easier.
“He was such a huge part of the Maverick family,” Nalbone said. “I love him.”
“Still do, to this day.”
‘For the Love of the Game’
Daley’s love and passion for baseball is described by his friends as beyond anything they’ve ever known. He’s often described as the underclassman captain and the heart of the team, and to his family, their favorite catcher.
“He was a leader and an example of someone you wanted to follow,” Cinelli said.
Young added, “Nothing was ever 50 percent with him, it was always 110 percent.”
As Cinelli described it, Daley cared so much about winning, while many people didn’t. Nalbone agreed saying that Daley always wanted to win more than anyone he’s ever played with.
“To have someone that passionate about the sport on your team, you know he’s a great player,” Cinelli said.
“One of the many things I’ll remember most about him was his unbelievable competitiveness,” Nalbone said. “His passion for the sport was incredible.”
Nalbone says that he can’t remember a day that has gone by when he hasn’t thought of Daley.
“He was such an amazing kid and great teammate,” Nalbone said. “I plan on writing his initials on my cleats, hat, and dirt on the pitcher’s mound before every game as a way of remembering him.”
“Everyone on the team has different ideas, but they’re all about remembering him.”
Daley, as Cinelli stated, was originally number six on the team his freshman year, but switched to number four his sophomore year. Many friends and teammates have on their Instagram accounts, “RIPND Never4get.”
Nalbone also noted that the entire baseball team plan on wearing bracelets with Daley’s name on them for the season. The entire Maverick community will get the chance to get one, as well.
Cinelli and Young, like Nalbone, wanted a way to cope with their grief and found it by getting a tattoo. They could have gotten anything to honor their friend and teammate, but chose to get one that resembled a baseball. It features Daley’s initial, birthday, last day, and the baseball seam strip to honor his passion for the sport.
“He cared so much about baseball,” Cinelli said. “A tattoo with a baseball was just fitting.”
Young, like Cinelli, got the tattoo for the same reason but added that Daley always wanted a tattoo, but never could get one.
“He wanted something that had to do with the American flag,” Cinelli said.
“His parents wouldn’t allow it,” Young said. “They wouldn’t be happy if he got one, to say the least.”
“So in a way, this is kind of our way of saying, ‘This is your tattoo, bud,’” Young added.
Cinelli and Young still keep in contact with the Daley family every so often and have since showed them their tattoo in honor of their son and brother.
“They loved it,” Cinelli said.
“It actually made his mom happy that we got it to honor Nick.”
This tragic event may have been the worst thing that all who knew Daley has had to go through in their lives, but the way Cinelli think of it is, “He’s always watching over me.”
The saying goes, ‘Only the good die young,’ and in this case, that’s true.
Daley left his family and friends too soon. He left them all with a heart filled with love, the playful sound of his laughter, the many unforgettable memories, and the memory of his everlasting smile. Whoever and wherever Daley went, he left an imprint.
He will surely be missed not only as a son, a brother, cousin, nephew, friend or teammate. But as the kid who lived life everyday with a smile on his face.
For Cinelli, Nalbone and Young, they will always think of Daley as one of their best friends and be reminded that he’s always with them every step of their journey.
“He’ll be loved forever and always have a place in our hearts and memories,” Nalbone said.
Cinelli added, “Nick was such an amazing person.”
“He is, and will always be my best friend.”
Never4get. Rest in peace, Nick Daley!