The carrot is dangling in front of them, and every team in the President's Cup baseball tournament that begins Saturday will be striving for the same goal: The championship game at Camden Yards.
"The team is excited about the whole tournament," Patterson coach Ray Gagne said. "The prospect of playing in Camden Yards is out there for all of them to strive for."
"It's definitely the big thing for all the kids," Archbishop Curley coach Brooks Norris agreed. "They all want to get to Camden Yards. I got to play there once years ago [as an all-star], and it really was special."
Curley and Patterson will play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Boys' Latin. It will be one of four first-round games played Saturday. Friends faces on Mervo at noon, also at Boys' Latin, while Poly plays at noon against Cristo Rey at Gilman, and Edmondson plays Mount St. Joseph at Gilman at 3:30.
This is the second year of the President's Cup, the brainchild of Baltimore City Council president Jack Young. The number of participating teams has doubled to 16, and the program has been expended to include community service projects.
Last weekend, players joined with a sports turf company that specializes in field construction and maintenance and members of the Orioles grounds crew to clean up and repair four public baseball fields at Forest Park. (Plans for a similar project at two softball fields at Joseph Lee Park had to be postponed because of rain, and that project will be rescheduled, President's Cup officials said.)
If the rain holds off Saturday afternoon, teams will begin solving the mystery of who will make it to CamdenYards.
Gagne has a young team that is just learning its way, and his Clippers (0-3) will be up against a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference team that is off to one of its better starts in years.
"My team is going to go to Boys' Latin and do it's best," Gagne said. "But city schools don't have summer leagues and they'll be playing against a team from the A Conference. My son played at Calvert Hall. I know at those schools it's baseball 24-7, year round. But we'll see what happens."
Norris's Curley squad is 5-2 overall, 4-0 in the A Conference heading into Friday's game against No. 1 Calvert Hall. The Friars were beaten by Arundel, 9-5, on Thursday, and Calvert Hall was upset by No. 6 Gilman, 7-1, when the Greyhounds' senior pitcher Brandon Casas went the distance in a three-hitter.
Given those results, Norris said his team may have gotten an important message.
"We were 5-1 going in to Arundel and thought we'd go in there and walk over them," Norris said. "Obviously, that approach doesn't work. We've been telling the team that for awhile. Hopefully they learned a lesson."
Norris and Gagne said results aren't the main point of the President's Cup, which is about camaraderie, knowing your neighbors and building friendships.
"I definitely understand the concept," Norris said. "It brings many schools in the Baltimore area together. It gets people talking and it creates excitement in the city."
at Boys' Latin: 12:00 p.m. – Mervo vs. Friends; 3:30 p.m. – Patterson vs. Archbishop Curley
at Gilman: 12:00 p.m. – Cristo Rey vs. Poly; 3:30 p.m. – Mount St. Joseph vs. Edmondson
at Medfield Heights ES: 4:00 p.m. – Southwestern vs. Gilman
at Mount St. Joseph: 4:00 p.m. – Dunbar vs. St. Frances
at Archbishop Curley: 12:30 p.m. – MATHS vs Digital Harbor; 4:00 p.m. – Boys' Latin vs. City
at Swann Park: 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
at Swann Park: 3:30 p.m.
at Druid Hill Park: 3:30 p.m.
at Johns Hopkins – 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
at Oriole Park at Camden Yards – 1:00 p.m.