State's best baseball players ready for Brooks Robinson All-Star game

Less than three weeks ago, Andrew Spinnenweber struck out 13 Sherwood batters and carried Chesapeake-AA to a Class 4A state championship.

It was the best moment of his life.

Now, Spinnenweber, who will pitch at a preparatory school in New Mexico next year, can add another accolade to a steadily growing list: he was one of 30 players selected to play in the Brooks Robinson Senior High School All-Star Game this Sunday at Camden Yards.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Spinnenweber said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "I'm not going to worry too much. Just going to try and enjoy the moment."

Players who competed against one another just a few weeks ago officially became teammates Wednesday when they gathered with their families at Camden Yards.

"It's going to be an honor to play with all these kids you're enemies with during the season," South River infielder Kyle Canavan said. "Now, we can come together."

Former standouts such as Mark Teixeira, Steve Lombardozzi and Steve Clevenger played in the game, and it has blossomed into one of the most prestigious honors in Maryland high school baseball.

Robinson, dressed in a tan jacket and turquoise shirt, addressed those in attendance shortly after noon. He recalled working out with the Double-A Little Rock Travelers as a high school player and being mesmerized by the sights and sounds.

Now, he encourages the All-Stars in a similar position to relish the moment and appreciate the opportunity. Not everyone gets to play in a major league park.

"You're here. You're the best. Congratulations to you," Robinson told the players.

After signing a whopping $4,000 contract in 1955 at the age of 18, Robinson went 2-for-4 with a crucial RBI in his first game for the Orioles. He called his parents, exhilarated by what he had accomplished.

Just a few days later, he found himself in an abysmal slump. Robinson went hitless in his next 18 at-bats and struck out 10 times. Rather than giving up hope, he remembered what got him into baseball in the first place.

He used his pure passion for the game to bust out of the rut. His desire to continue playing — not his talent — helped him turn it around, he said. Now, he encourages all the All-Stars to never give up hope and continue to pursue their dreams.

Jamal Wade, who will join his brother, LaMonte, on the Maryland baseball team next year, hit .500 and posted a 0.52 ERA for St. Paul's this year, but he knows Sunday will be an entirely new experience.

"I've had tryouts and stuff at Oriole Park, but to play an actual game is pretty awesome," Wade said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Ty Whittaker, president of the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches, will coach the North team on Sunday, and said he's honored to coach in an event with Robinson's name attached to it. At Wednesday's press conference, Whittaker did his best to soak in the moment.

"It's kind of like going to Disneyland a little bit," Whittaker said cheerfully. "You're just like 'Wow, look at all this stuff.' The kids have got a lot of energy going on and we're ready to play on Sunday."

2014 Brooks Robinson Senior High School All-Star roster
South Team
P  Andrew Spinnenweber, Chesapeake
P  Taylor Bloom, Riverdale Baptist
P  Alex Calvert, LaPlata
P  Steve Hogan, Southern
C  Bryan Parreira, Broadneck
C  Danny O'Haga, Reservoir
IF Chris Ruszin, Chesapeake
IF John Drexel, Chesapeake
IF Kyle Canavan, South River
IF Simon Palanchar, JM Bennett
IF Brooks Carey, Parkside
OF Syeed Mahdi, Arundel
OF Brady Acker, Atholton
OF Greg Mayer, Severna Park
OF Kyle Skilling, Parkside
P  Kevin Hodgson, North Point
IF/P Chase DeLost, Chesapeake
OF Matt Semanick, North County
North Team
P  Peter Solomon, Mt. St. Joe's
P  Nick DeCarlo, Gaithersburg
P  Riley Arnone, Williamsport
P  Joel Kenney, Mt. St. Joe's  
C  Cody Gwinn, Eastern Tech
C  Justin Craft, North Point
IF Jamal Wade, St. Paul's
IF Robbie Metz, Poolesville
IF Kurtis Ewers, Dulaney
IF Hunter Pearre, Poolesville
IF Mark Michael, John Carroll
OF Andy Szamski, Eastern Tech
OF Isaiah Pasteur, Winters Mill
OF Brady Adam, Sherwood
OF Thayer Seely, Poolesville
P  Austin Main, Middletown
IF Nick Grimaldi, Perry Hall
OF David Chong, Dulaney

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