Tryouts for Oriolelanders attract promising hopefuls


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* Did you hear that about 55 players showed up for Wednesday's baseball tryouts for the 13th annual Anne Arundel County Sun-Oriolelanders All-Star baseball game at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans?

Players ages 15 to 21 came out in hopes of being named to the Arundel Suns, who will play the Oriolelanders, a hand-picked team of players from the state and mid-Atlantic area, on Sept. 6 in a doubleheader set to start at 1 p.m.

The game has become a haven for pro and college scouts with nearly 90 players who have appeared in the first 12 years either signing or being drafted by pro baseball clubs. Baltimore Orioles scouting supervisor Jim Gilbert and his son, Tom, select the best high school seniors they can find in the mid-Atlantic area to form

the Oriolelanders and play fall baseball.

Two local prospects -- Arundel first baseman Tim Giles and Severna Park catcher John Milisitz -- made the Oriolelanders team this fall. Both are entering their senior years. Milisitz caught for the Suns last year.

Several more players, unable to attend the first tryout on Wednesday, will work out today with Wednesday's survivors, and the roster will be pared down to 25-27 players. The final Arundel Suns roster will be announced Monday.

The first workout featured a host of former Anne Arundel County Sun All-County players. Rich Spiegel, the All-County and Sun All-Metro catcher from Northeast High, was particularly impressive hitting and throwing.

Spiegel has lost about 20 pounds and no longer resembles a future Cecil Fielder or John Kruk. The 18-year-old has been working hard to keep his weight down and said, "I feel great and am going to lose another 10 pounds and hope somebody gives me a chance."

At 6-foot and 210 pounds, Spiegel looks good and moves considerably better. If he keeps it up, it's hard to believe that some club will not give him a shot.

Another Northeast grad who also has shed excess baggage is 1991 All-County third baseman Don Shump. Shump is now a trim 5-11 and 185 pounds and is swinging the bat with authority. He impressed with his power at the workout Wednesday.

A host of other either first- or second-team All-County players from this past season showed up at the tryout in pitchers John Ritter (Severna Park) and Wayne Hudson (Northeast); catcher Mike Mahoney (Old Mill); infielders, John Young (Chesapeake), K.C. Murphy (Northeast) and Chris Durocher (Arundel); outfielders, Tre Overstreet (Arundel) and John Hall (Archbishop Spalding).

Some of the names from past All-County teams vying for a spot on the local team included: pitcher Jim Simms (Old Mill, Anne Arundel C.C.), first baseman Russ Curry (Northeast, AACC), and pitcher/OF/DH Larry Dobson (Arundel, Catonsville C.C.) and outfielder Paul McKenzie (Chesapeake, AACC).

* Have you heard that Spalding's All-County second baseman Jeff Paxson, who was second-team All-Metro, may have to undergo shoulder surgery on his right arm in mid-October?

Paxson, who batted .422 with 36 RBI as a junior this spring, went on to have a great summer for the county legion league champion Severna Park Post 175 club, but could only play first or DH.

It was first thought that Paxson's arm injury that occurred in the spring was tendinitis, but since then the condition has worsened and surgery may be necessary. It is hoped the problem will be straightened out for the young man, because he's college baseball material.

Paxson, who intends to play football again at Spalding, is hoping to try out for the Oriolelanders' game, and here's hoping that no scouts write this kid off until they see him again next spring. His arm should be well by then.

* Did you know that the Severna Park legion coaches Charlie Becker and Jim McCandless got rave reviews from college scouts for the way they ran their ballclub in the state legion tournament in Hagerstown?

"We were told by several college coaches that our disciplinary approach with our players was the way to get them ready for the transition from high school to college baseball," said Becker, who squelched rumors that he was retiring.

"I'm definitely coming back next year. This was a great group of kids we had this year and some of them return. There was a lot of pressure on them to win the county league, because everybody said we would [and should] and they did a great job."

Becker said he felt my remarks in Monday's Sidelines that he and McCandless might have been too negative about the team's lack of hitting were not fair.

"You know me, I'm a very positive person, always upbeat and we weren't negative about their hitting," said Becker. "The other team [Frederick] that eliminated us scored more runs [5-4 in 10 innings] and they went on to win the state tournament and finish third in the regional.

"We knew what to expect in the county but not in the state, and under those circumstances, I don't think the kids should be labeled for not winning the state."

* Do you remember Art Linkletter and his favorite saying, "Kids say the darndest things?"

How about this one?

Severna Park High's veteran baseball coach Jimmy Pitt took his 8-year-old son, Jimmy, out to Camden Yards Tuesday night to see the Orioles and Angels. Being a former Minnesota Twins farmhand, Pitt met one of his former minor league pals who went on to make it big in the majors and introduced Rodney Carew to little Jimmy.

"Rod asked Jimmy if he wanted to be a baseball player like his dad was when he grows up and without hesitation, Jimmy told him, 'No, i want to be a Ninja,' " laughed Pitt.

"It's a different world today."

Sure is, Coach.

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