Boys of Summer: Anne Arundel County Tops in Baseball
By John Singleton
Anne Arundel County baseball is the best in the state of Maryland. Its not a boast. Its a fact. This spring Severna Park High School advanced to the State Championship for the second time in the last three years. Just last month, Archbishop Spalding won the MIAA A Conference championship and Annapolis Area Christian School advanced to the MIAA B Conference championship game. Factor in that Chesapeake High School went to the State Championship in 2010, and its clear to see that Anne Arundel County is a region packed with baseball powerhouses.
There is a tradition of hard work in Anne Arundel County when it comes to baseball, said Larry Williams, owner of the BATT Academy baseball training facility in Glen Burnie. We have young men from Pasadena, Gambrills, Severna Park and Annapolis that are members of our club and work out all year long refining their baseball skills. Thats what it takes to be a champion.
Arundel High School graduate Denny Neagle earned a World Series championship ring as a pitcher with the New York Yankees in 2000. When it comes to Chesapeake High School, Joe Andrzejewski, who was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1988 draft; Derek Hasselhoff, who was picked by the Chicago White Sox in 1995; and Zach Moore, who was chosen by the Florida Marlins in 2008, represent just a few of the names in the hallowed history of Cougars baseball. When you factor in big leaguers Mark Teixeira and Gavin Floyd, who grew up in Severna Park while playing their high school baseball at Mount St. Josephs in Baltimore, the argument for Anne Arundel County baseball supremacy is further justified.
We have a group of excellent high school coaches in Anne Arundel County. But the real source of our success at the high school level starts in the youth programs, explained Jim Simms, who coached at Chesapeake High School for 21 years. Both the Lake Shore and Green Hornets programs field very competitive teams. The fall baseball program started by the county years ago was a big factor too.
Summer teams throughout Anne Arundel County provide 20-30 additional baseball games for players to gain experience and learn new skills. For the 16U Pasadena Eagles, summer is the time to sharpen their competitive edge. The team consists of high school freshmen from a cross-section of local high schools including St. Mary's, Northeast, Spalding, Broadneck, South River, Annapolis, Granite Baptist, and Mt. St. Joseph High School. The Eagles beat Severn Athletic Club, 8-3, on June 6, upping their record to 5-0 this summer.
The County continues to be a hotbed for baseball in Maryland. Between the County Recreation and Parks Dept, high school, community-based athletic organizations and local baseball clubs, countless opportunities exist to play baseball at all skill levels, said Pasadena coach Gene Wolanin. The county has a number of private facilities which provide year-round training.
Many people trace the countys tradition of baseball excellence to Bernie Walter, Head Coach at Arundel High School over three decades. Walter was Denny Neagles coach in the 90s and works as a consultant to the University of Maryland baseball program today. The late Harry Lentz of Northeast High School is another high school coach who set a high mark.
Bernie Walter set the standard in Anne Arundel County years ago, said Simms. If youre a professional scout coming to Maryland today, youre first stop is Anne Arundel County.