At 5 feet 10, 160 pounds, Mike Ginsberg hardly looks like Superman. But when it comes to all-around performances, the McDonogh senior makes a habit of turning in heroic efforts.
Take for example the Eagles' 7-1 victory two weeks ago over sixth-ranked Mount St. Joseph, when Ginsberg went 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs and threw a 91-pitch two-hitter, striking out 10 and walking one. For the week, Ginsberg went 5-for-5 with six RBIs.
"Mike makes an outstanding contribution to our team, not only as a player, but as a leader," said first-year coach Chet Janiga, whose No. 3 Eagles are 12-1. "Not only is he an outstanding pitcher, but he's a clutch hitter, superb infielder and a smart base runner."
Ginsberg can hurt a team any number of ways, beginning from the mound, where he is 5-0 with a 1.00 ERA and has 38 strikeouts against seven walks in 28 innings.
At the plate, Ginsberg's batting .570 with 20 RBIs and three doubles. Reaching base is no problem: He's walked 12 times, stolen eight bases and scored 18 times.
He has struck out just three times and defensively has just two errors.
"I focus on every aspect of my game, going to the batting cage the night before we play, and running a lot on my own," said Ginsberg, a 3.0 student with a 1200 Scholastic Assessment Test score. "[Last year's coach Al] Poklemba taught me everything I know about defense, staying low, watching the ball into my glove, and turning double plays. And my father, Bobby, is always there to push me.
"I got help from Brian Bark, who plays Triple-A for the Atlanta Braves, and his father, Jerry, this summer on pitching. I try to make my first pitch a strike, work on movement, and I've got
confidence in my curve and changeup."
Ginsberg, a second-team All-Metro pick last year, has played four positions for the Eagles, stepping in at second base a year ago when All-Metro Ian Hendricks was hurt.
On the mound, Ginsberg went 10-2 with 84 strikeouts in 81 innings and a 1.65 ERA. At the plate, he hit .410 with 29 RBIs and three doubles. From the base paths, he scored 17 times and stole 10 bases. And in the field, three of his four errors came in the 21-4 Eagles' first game.
He was voted last year's private schools state tournament MVP.
Ginsberg provided an example of his value in last year's 4-1 loss to Calvert Hall in the league title game, hitting a run-scoring double off left-handed All-Metro Player of the Year Andy Bair to give McDonogh a 1-0 first-inning lead.
And in the Eagles' 6-3 state private school semifinal victory over Riverdale Baptist, the Washington, D.C., area's top-ranked team over the past two seasons, Ginsberg struck out five and $H scattered six hits. And in the state final, his run-scoring double staked the Eagles to a 2-0 lead in an eventual 4-2 victory over Mount St. Joseph.
"I think it's often Mike who provides the spark for our team," said shortstop Guy Robertson. "As the No. 2 hitter, with him at No. 3, I'm the source of a lot of his RBIs."
As a sophomore, Ginsberg played second fiddle to two-time All-Metro Kenny Cloude -- a player against whom he is constantly compared. "I want to be my own person, not live in his shadows, though I know there's always going to be that comparison," Ginsberg said as a junior.
But since Cloude pitched the Eagles to the league title over Calvert Hall, the Eagles have been league runners-up for two straight years.
"We haven't won it since my freshman year, and that's something I really want for our program," said Ginsberg, who could get the nod against top-ranked Calvert Hall at McDonogh tomorrow.
Though he'll likely draw attention in the June amateur draft, Ginsberg signed with Maryland in November.
But that brings up another comparison to Cloude, who in August 1993 turned down the University of Richmond and signed, as a sixth-round pick by the Seattle Mariners, one of the more lucrative professional contracts in Maryland's history for a high school player.
Ginsberg hasn't completely ruled that out, but for now at least, is committed to college. "Maryland recruited me as a pitcher, but I'd like to get some time at second base," said Ginsberg. "That way it'd be possible to play every game."