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President's Cup baseball tournament could expand with clinic, all-star game

BaseballSchoolsCal RipkenCal Ripken, Jr.Bernard C. Young

When the second annual President's Cup baseball tournament came to an end Saturday -- with Mount St. Joseph beating last year's champion, Gilman, 12-11 -- the event's creator was already looking ahead to next year's tournament.

Baltimore City Council president Bernard C. "Jack" Young, whose idea it was to bring city public school teams and private teams together in a city-wide tournament, said he'd like to see a clinic as part of the event, as well as an All-Star game featuring some of the best players from the other teams participating.

"I want to expand it," Young said. "Other counties have expressed interest in getting involved. I've even talked to the president of the city council from Atlanta (Ga.), who was in town. He's doing something similar in his city, and we want to incorporate each other's ideas into what we're already doing."

Young did expand the program this year to include "Growing the Game," a fundraising component to improve and maintain public ball fields, and a public service aspect.

At least $166,000 had been raised going in to Saturday's game. Officials said the final total would be known shortly. And the service project included members of participating teams working on improving four public fields.

Young said he hopes to raise enough money to improve public fields to the standards of the private schools.

"Maybe then," Young said, "our public schools will have a better chance of winning these games. Right now, it's not just about the games. It's about players getting to meet one another and talking to one another and having fun. No one likes to lose 25-0, and I'm not promoting that. What I'm saying is this is a game to bring kids of all social and economic backgrounds together to just play better. And I think when we get our fields improved our teams will have a better chance."

The dream is to one day have a city public school play a private school in the championship game. This year, Digital Harbor nearly made it. The Rams earned their way to the semifinal, where they fell to No. 2 Gilman, 3-2.

"We've all gotten the opportunity to play on nicer fields and get more publicity," said Digital Harbor's senior catcher Mike Corn, who was named the tournament's "Heavy Hitter" after hitting a two-run double in the semifinal. "We don't have what the private schools have, but we're still part of the city and we showed in our game that we can play with them."

Corn, Mount St. Joseph coach Dave Norton and Gilman coach Larry Sheets all expressed interest in adding clinics to the program next year.

In fact, Sheets and his assistant coaches (including Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.) held an impromptu clinic during this year's President's Cup. The clinic happened when it became apparent to coaches on both sides of a game they were playing that the game would not be competitive.

"It was a great opportunity," Sheets said. "Cal Ripken was there. What young kid wouldn't love the chance to get a baseball lesson from him?"

But Sheets noted it is a sensitive undertaking.

"You don't want to give an image of being so much better than anyone else," he said. "But the offer should be made. There are so many things we can all learn from one another. But it takes initiative from other coaches to say, 'Yeah, let's do this.'"

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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BaseballSchoolsCal RipkenCal Ripken, Jr.Bernard C. Young
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