The President's Cup was created to bring public and private schools together on the city's baseball fields. In this, its second year, the event is being expanded to include a public service project and a financial campaign to raise money to improve and maintain Baltimore's baseball fields.
On Thursday, at a kickoff news conference, the Cup's mastermind, Baltimore City Council president Bernard C. "Jack" Young, said representatives from most of the 16 participating teams will meet Saturday morning at Forest Park and Joseph Lee Park "to help clean up five overgrown public baseball fields [three baseball and two softball] and turn them into well maintained, usable ball fields."
Orioles ownership representative Louis Angelos then announced that the Orioles will match the $83,000 seed money already donated by other area businesses and organizations to the new "Growing the Game" campaign that will help pay for renovations and future maintenance of the city's public fields.
"Those fields, whatever maintenance they're getting now is being done by the Little League teams that have been using them," said Greg Bayor, the director of Baltimore City parks.
On Saturday, high school players from all over the city will be pulling weeds out of infields, working on the pitcher mounds, edging the base lines and, perhaps, repairing some fencing with direction from a professional maintenance company and members of the Orioles' ground crew.
"Last year they had us all go to the Sports Legends Museum for a tour," said Boys' Latin senior outfielder Jimmy Peacock. "But you couldn't really talk very much to players from other teams there. I think cleaning up the ballfields is more focused on what they're trying to accomplish. I think we're all hoping for a better understanding of what's around us. This will broaden everyone's perspective."
Thursday's program in the Rotunda at City Hall was attended by many city officials and out-of-town guest Sharon Robinson. Robinson, the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson and an education consultant to the Major League Baseball commissioner's office, was here representing MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
"The beauty of the President's Cup is that it allows young men to interact from all over the city, no matter what their backgrounds, religions or race," she said. "Not only are they competing, but they're developing relationships. Maybe next year they can add softball for girls."
The President's Cup tournament begins March 31, and concludes April 21 with the championship game at Camden Yards. Put together with less lead time last year, the event began with just eight teams, three from the public schools. This year the number of participants has doubled.
Public schools competing are: City, Poly, Digital Harbor, Edmondson, Maryland Academy for Technology and Health Sciences (MATHS), Mervo, Patterson, No. 15 Dunbar and Southwestern. Private schools joining defending champion No. 6 Gilman in the mix are: Archbishop Curley, Boys' Latin, Cristo Rey Jesuit, Friends, Mount St. Joseph and St. Frances.
"I think this is an excellent experience," said Dunbar senior Charles Brown, Jr., who plays first base and pitches. "Last year we played Friends and came up a couple runs short. We let it slip with a couple errors. This year, we're younger but more talented. We're looking forward to competing."
Former Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles said the tournament can only make the teams competing in it better.
"I think it's a big thing," Hoiles said. "Public and privates get to see what the others have. It creates competition and competition, to me, is always good. It's what makes this event so special. It gives all the teams something to look forward to and they'll all work their butts off to play each other. And hard work is never a bad thing."
at Boys' Latin: 12:00 p.m. – Mervo vs. Friends; 3:30 p.m. – Patterson vs. Archbishop Curley
at Gilman: 12:00 p.m. – Cristo Rey vs. Poly; 3:30 p.m. – Mount St. Joseph vs. Edmondson