When it comes to the Catonsville Comets Instructional Baseball Camp, the 20 baseball players who participated this year knew their priorities were on the diamond at Catonsville High.
Catonsville High baseball and football coach Rich Hambor also knew the 6th annual event would have its flexibility.
On the day the United States international soccer team played Germany at 12 p.m. in the World Cup, Hambor gave the campers an early departure of 11:45 a.m so they could watch the game.
“A lot of them asked yesterday if they were going to be able to watch the game today,” Hambor said.
And the coach spent the final 20 minutes of the session by giving them their favorite drill — throwing popups all over the outfield so they could practice diving catches.
“All the little kids want to do is dive and fall down,” Hambor said.
That’s not all they were prepared to do on June 26 — a day after torrential rain hit the area.
“The little kids wanted to rake the field,” Hambor said.
Catonsville resident David Paton just wants to play as much baseball as he can and he had the grass stains on his baseball pants to prove it.
Paton, who will be freshman at Catonsville High this fall, wanted to participate in day four of the five-day camp even though he attended the Baltimore Orioles game the night before the camp, which started at 8 a.m.
Paton was attending the game to see his grandfather, George Moniodis, throw out the first pitch.
He left during a rain delay with the scored tied 4-4 after the ninth inning.
“I had to leave after the ninth inning because I had this camp in the morning,” Baton said. “I woke up to the text message and saw we (Orioles) won and said, ‘OK, that’s fine by me.’”
Paton plays for the Catonsville Cubs 14U summer travel team and had a game that evening in Bel Air, but that didn’t stop him from coming to the morning camp.
“I was told by my teammates this is a good way to meet the coaches and a good chance of letting them know what you have ability-wise and skill-wise,” he said. “I learned a lot of new stuff and enhanced a lot of my abilities. It was really fun.”
The camp is fun, but Hambor has seen some talent rise from the four-hour sessions.
“There are some things I’ve seen from some kids that are going to help us down the road, but mostly I would say this is probably the nicest group of kids in a good way,” Hambor said. “Not that the other ones weren’t nice, but they are just really intent and they pay attention and they want to learn and they ask a lot of good questions.”
Eligible campers range from rising fourth graders to those entering the ninth grade. The cost is $185.
“They really seem to like the camp a lot,” Hambor said. ‘You’ve got to love it, especially the older guys, everybody wants to be here. That’s the main thing, you don’t want to have kids that want to go home and are kind of dragging.”
On the final day of the five day session, Hambor and assistant Doug Campbell gave out awards and enjoyed some pizza with the campers.
Most Valuable Player award winners were David Paton for the older group and Hayden Henry for the younger group.
The older group award winner for the Sportsmanship Award went to Evan Comisar and the younger winner was Owen Flynn.