What better day than Sunday's grand opening of Joe Cannon Stadium at Harmans for The Anne Arundel County Sun All Stars to snap the hex held over them by the Oriolelanders.
Baltimore Orioles scouting supervisor Jim Gilbert has assembled a squad of many of the Mid-Atlantic's top high school seniors as the Oriolelanders try to win their seventh straight over the Arundel Suns.
The Oriolelanders have rolled in the last two games, 17-6 (1989) and 17-7 (1988), and will be out to repeat Sunday when umpire Jack Kramp yells "play ball" at 3 p.m.
As a bonus, the Oriolelanders, with a few Arundel Suns, will take on an outstanding group of ex-pros, high school and college standouts who will make up the Chesapeake Independent Baseball League All Stars, at 7 p.m.
The second game is a first and will provide baseball lovers with a full menu of the world's greatest game. And everything is free for the entire family -- free admission, free concessions and Anne Arundel County Sun T-shirts will be given away throughout the day.
Everything is in order for a potentially entertaining day.
Let's see if it is capped off with a long overdue win by the Suns. That, however, will not be easy.
Gilbert has brought in some really outstanding players the last few years, including Keith Gordon of Wright State University, Fairborn, Ohio. Gordon crushed Suns' pitching for four hits, including an electrifying first-inning dinger off of UMBC's Kevin Alarie last year.
Gordon's low line shot was hit so hard that it was out of the park at Saw Mill Creek before Alarie could turn around. The Oriolelanders star now is playing third in the Cincinnati Reds' chain.
Another standout in last year's 10th annual game was Glen Burnie outfielder Dave Haber. He currently is playing in the Kansas City Royals' minor-league system.
Gordon and Haber are just two of nearly 75 players who have appeared in one of the games and either been drafted or signed by a pro club.
No four-year college players are on this year's rosters because of the lateness of the game. Normally the game is played the first weekend in August, but in order to open the new stadium it had to be played in September.
NCAA Division I regulations prohibit students at four-year schools who play fall baseball from competing in outside all-star games and tournaments once school starts.
Despite this, don't worry about not seeing a high caliber of amateur baseball, because the two teams are loaded with talent. Most of the players are high school seniors with great chances of sparkling in college or in pro baseball.
The team that Gilbert has put together and entrusted his son, Tom, an associate scout, to run features high school stars from a four-state area including Maryland. In addition, the Oriolelanders are bringing in a very mature 14-year-old infielder from Middle Town High in New Jersey.
Chris Leusner, a second baseman/third baseman, will be the youngest to ever play in the game that is reserved primarily for those in the 16 to 22 age group. Leusner, who is 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds, is a talent beyond his years.
One of the Oriolelander pitchers is a familiar name in Northeast High's All-County, senior right-hander Charlie Buckheit. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder is playing the entire fall with the Oriolelanders in the Mid-Atlantic Fall Baseball League for high schoolers.
The opportunity for exposure was too good for Buckheit to pass up. He will playing for the Maryland team in Frederick.
Among the other Oriolelanders to play for the county team, 6-4, 180-pound Oakton High School (Va.) right-hander Scott Shulsinger is a prospect along with 6-3, 190-pound lefty Bill Pulsipher of Chantilly High in Va.
George Freeberger from Baltimore's Poly is a catcher on the team, and Troy Brohawn, an outfielder from Cambridge South Dorchester High on the Eastern Shore, played for last year's Oriolelanders. Brohawn walked three times and scored a run.
The Oriolelanders' coaching staff is interesting, with former Mount St. Joe All-Metro catcher Tom Gilbert in charge and assisted by Bobby Lilliock of Glen Burnie. Gilbert recently was inducted into the Mount St. Joseph Athletic Hall of Fame for baseball and football.
Gilbert, now a full-time Hallmark salesman residing in Carroll County, played on a couple of national champion 16-and-under teams with the old Brooklyn Optimist Boys' Club, and later with 20-and-under Pikesville.
Lilliock, who became the first player to play in five Oriolelander games last summer on the Suns' team, is a Glen Burnie/Anne Arundel Community College graduate. He was an infielder.
On the other side, the Suns will be run by local sandlot coaches Bill Nevin of the Glen Burnie Patriots and Mike Ziegler of the Kazmarek Little Orioles.
Nevin's Patriots are considered by many to be the county's top 16-and-under summer program. His teams annually have won the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association Mickey Mantle League and done well in the Continental Amateur Baseball Association World Series in Laredo, Texas.
Among Nevin's proteges are Milwaukee Brewers minor-league hurler Joe Andrzejewski; Alarie, a former Annapolis star and 1988 Player of the Year and now a junior at UMBC, and a host of players who were on the national champion Mayo Post No. 226 team the past couple of years.
Ziegler is a veteran youth baseball coach and an excellent teacher. He helped guide the Little Orioles to a seventh-place finish out of 18 teams in the CABA 11-and-Under World Series this past summer in Tarkio, Mo., and took a team to a tournament in Puerto Rico the year before. Nevin and Ziegler will have quite a pool of pitchers now that former Broadneck and AACC star lefty Brian Toronto has joined the roster. Toronto posted the lowest ERA in the nation this past spring for Anne Arundel at 0.66.
Toronto will be joined by a trio of talented high school lefties in Doug Stockman (Old Mill), Shawn Tipton (Annapolis) and Tony Sanders (Howard, formerly at Glen Burnie).
Also on the Suns pitching staff are two Anne Arundel C.C. hard-throwing right-handers in Rick Forney and Scott Hatfield.
A couple of ex-pros in outfielder-catcher Wayne Williams (ex-Blue Jay from Chesapeake High) and Earl Williams (ex-Oriole from Andover) are expected to swing big bats for the Suns along with National Legion Champion Mayo Post slugger Jim McNally (Old Mill and AACC), Jay Schline (Chesapeake and AACC) and the county's all-time hit and runs scored (47 each) leader, shortstop Andy Srebroski from Northeast High.
In the second game, which should be a test of youth and potential vs. experience and know-how, the men will be separated from the boys with the Oriolelanders playing the Chesapeake Independent Baseball League All-Stars.
The Chesapeake circuit is in its 17th season playing on Sundays with guys from 17 to 45 years old and is one of the best-kept secrets in the county. In Sunday's column, I will give you much more on the Chesapeake Stars, but you will recognize such former county greats as Richie Johnson and Tony Dailey (Glen Burnie High), Terry Eldridge (Old Mill), Dale Castro and George Spriggs (Southern) and Shawn Simms (Annapolis).
Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990