Local all-stars get rare chance at bat in Oriole Park

Bill O'Patterson and Brett Seidel can't wait to step up in the batter's box today and look out on Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

This afternoon, they'll get a rare chance to play a game in a major-league setting when they represent Harford County in the 11th Annual Crown All-Star Game at the new stadium.


"I'd like to hit one out," said O'Patterson, who hit four home runs for North Harford this spring. "But just playing on the field is gonna be great -- and playing in the first all-star game they've ever had there."

The Crown game, featuring 30 of the top high school baseball players in the state, pits the North against the South. O'Patterson and Seidel, from Fallston High, will play for the South squad joined by C. Milton Wright's Jeff Hawk.


They take the field at about 5:30, after the Orioles wrap up their game against Kansas City.

"Hopefully, in front of a few fans," said Seidel with a laugh. "To play in the new park will be a lot of fun. Before the Orioles' game, we're supposed to be announced and we'll be on Diamond Vision."

The only problem for the all-stars has been getting Orioles tickets, so the rest of the family can be there for the introductions.

"It's almost impossible to get them. They're always sold out," said Seidel, who has seen two games this year. The O'Pattersons nailed down a block of tickets, but the Seidels managed to get only single seats.

The all-stars were selected after an invitational tryout on May 21 at Catonsville Community College.

"I thought I was good enough to play and they were too," said Seidel.

Last year, just one Harford player -- Ken Batten from C. Milton Wright -- was chosen for the Crown game.

"A lot of people who tried out for the game have big names and played in the MSA (Maryland Scholastic Association) or other counties where baseball just gets more attention. I was happy to make it," added Seidel.


O'Patterson has played once on the Camden Yards' field -- last weekend at an Orioles tryout camp. Seidel has seen the new stadium only from the stands.

Both have played baseball since they were 6. Seidel started T-ball in Fallston and went on to play for the Harford Sox, a team his father, Norm Seidel, coached for 10 years before retiring this season.

Jarrettsville resident O'Patterson wanted to play ball when he was 6 too, but the Jarrettsville Rec. program required players to be 7. The youngster went to Forest Hill and didn't leave that program until he joined the Yankee Rebels, a highly competitive squad based in eastern Baltimore County.

This summer, they play for rival teams in the Maryland Semi-Pro Baseball League. Earlier this week, O'Patterson's Fortunato Brothers squad swept two games from Seidel's Bel Air Athletic Club team. They may meet again later in the season after Wednesday night's game was postponed indefinitely because of thunderstorm.

Both will continue to play ball in college. Seidel is headed for Georgetown University, while O'Patterson will attend Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

"I was considering UMBC and Campbell, both of which are better in terms of competitive baseball," said Seidel. "But a Georgetown education -- after I graduate, even if I'm not playing ball, that's really going to take me a long way. Plus, I have a chance to go in and start as a freshman."


Seidel was recruited by assistant Georgetown coach Duane Rhine, a Bel Air High graduate and his teammate on the Bel Air Athletic Club semi-pro team. Rhine already has one Harford County player on his squad -- sophomore Eric Santana, an Edgewood graduate.

Over spring break, O'Patterson worked out with the Jacksonville team, and decided Florida was the place for him. His whole family will relocate to Jacksonville this summer. He and his parents will move in July and his sister Terri will follow as soon as she completes courses at Essex Community College.

"Down there I can play baseball all year around," said O'Patterson, who was recruited by 15 schools. "Florida teams play a 25-game winter schedule and a long spring schedule. And there are so many scouts down there."

Like Seidel, O'Patterson has dreams of playing major-league ball, but neither has let his dreams get in the way of getting a good education.

Both were National Honor Society members in high school and both plan to major in challenging disciplines. O'Patterson will study computer science or accounting while Seidel plans to major in marketing.