Sitting at a baseball coaches convention a couple months ago in Atlanta, Arundel High's Bernie Walter and Terry Terrill of Riverdale Baptist in Prince George's County did the expected. They talked baseball.
The idea of holding a state tournament for non-public schools similar to the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association tournament was batted around.
Terrill took the idea and ran with it. The result is an open single-elimination tournament that ultimately will lead to a tournament by classifications like the MPSSAA's.
"We got an overwhelming response and the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches unanimously sanctioned it," said Terrill, who was to hold a seedings meeting last night to put the final touches on the tourney.
"We are really excited about it. For years our schools finish their regular seasons, and sit around and watch the public schools play their state tournaments, and some of us decided why not have our own."
McDonogh, Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop Spalding, Mount St. Joseph, Towson Catholic and Calvert Hall from the Baltimore metro area have committed to the first tournament.
Those teams will be seeded and joined by schools from around the state. Among them will be Riverdale Baptist, Bishop Walsh of Cumberland, Pallotti of Laurel, St. Maria Goretti of Hagerstown, The Heights from the Washington area and St. John's Prospect Hall.
Terrill was disappointed that DeMatha and St. Albans, traditionally strong programs, could not be a part of it, but their Metro Conference in the Washington area prohibits them playing beyond their conference playoffs.
The dates for the first tournament are May 24, 26, 28 (semifinals) and 29. The championship is set to be played at Joe Cannon Stadium in Anne Arundel County.
"Those of us in the MSA don't know what's going to happen to our association down the road with the public schools merging ** with the state [MPSSAA], so this gives us a steppingstone toward a championship tournament in postseason," said
McDonogh coach Al Poklemba. "It's a
great idea and should lead to possibly two tournaments by class."
Terrill said that is what will happen possibly by next year with the larger schools in one tournament and the smaller schools in another.
"Getting it started is the most important thing at this point and I'm sure a lot of teams will want to be a part of it by next year once they see this," said Terrill.
Walter foresees the tournament leading to the MPSSAA champion one day meeting the private/parochial school champion for a true state championship.
Watch out for the Clippers
Speaking of postseason play, coach Roger Wrenn's Patterson Clippers could have something to say about one of the four playoff berths in highly competitive Class 4A, Region IV.
Traditionally, Patterson is one of the top teams in Baltimore. Last season, the Clippers went 20-1, winning their fifth MSA B Conference title since 1982 and taking the No. 2 ranking in The Sun's final Top 15.
In the past, Anne Arundel teams have pretty much had sole possession of those four berths with LaPlata of Charles County occasionally slipping in. But now Patterson is a factor with
LaPlata no longer in the region.
Region IV consists of 12 teams -- nine from Anne Arundel in Annapolis, Arundel, Broadneck, Chesapeake, Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Old Mill and Severna Park; Queen Anne's of the Eastern Shore; Patterson and Edmondson from Baltimore's MSA 4A-2A Lumsden Division.
Calvert Hall JV baseball coach Larry Wineke has battled back from heart problems and is coaching the Cardinals again.
"It [cardiac arrest] was pretty serious and really changed my outlook on life," said Wineke. "I've got a wife and kids to live for and am going to do things differently. I'm not going to let umpires bother me anymore."
Wineke, who played for Dick Sands at Cardinal Gibbons High in the early '70s, is one of the finest hitters to have played in the Maryland Scholastic Association. It's interesting that where he now coaches, Calvert Hall, is one of the schools he used to wear out with his bat.
Note: Pat O'Malley's baseball column will run Mondays during the high school season. Anyone who would like to submit information or ideas for the column can reach Pat O'Malley by calling his 24-Hour Sportsline at (410) 647-2499.