A dozen wide-eyed high school baseball players sat in the auxilliary clubhouse at Camden Yards on Friday to hear Al Bumbry tell them what they probably knew.
“You guys are living a dream,” the onetime Orioles center fielder told the group, part of a contingent that will play in the seventh President’s Cup all-star game at the ballpark at 3 p.m. on June 5. “Relish this showcase, because everybody doesn’t get this opportunity.”
Then he added: “If any of you have hitting problems, come see me. I’m the man.”
Bumbry, 71, spoke at a news conference announcing the game, which pits a team of Baltimore City public school standouts against a team of private school all-stars from the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B and C conferences. Admission and parking are free at Camden Yards, and concession stands will be open. Past games have drawn as many as 1,000 fans.
The winning team receives a gleaming 2-foot trophy, dubbed the President’s Cup by Baltimore City Council president Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who first organized the game in 2011.
Each team consists of 20 seniors, with no more than two from any school. Rosters are not yet fully set. A coin flip determined that the public school team will wear Orioles colors (orange and black jerseys), while their opponents look Ravenesque (purple and black).
Unlike the past, when each team featured players from both public and private schools, this year’s game smacks more of us-versus-them.
“I like this [concept] better. There’s a distinction between sides, like in a traditional all-star game,” said Poly coach Corey Goodwin, who’ll coach the public school team with Lake Clifton’s Todd Henning.
“I’m intrigued by this format, putting all of the city kids under one umbrella,” Henning said. “Yes, it is about [local] pride, but it’s more about having fun and raising the level of baseball being played in the city.”
Bill Greenwell (Boys Latin), a coach of the MIAA team, called the game “a huge deal for these guys” from the B and C Conference teams because “sometimes they get overlooked for the Brooks Robinson High School All-Star Game,” a more celebrated contest which is also played at Camden Yards.
Bumbry, an Orioles Hall of Famer who played 13 years in Baltimore, left the players with this thought: “Go out [on the field] and meet your enemies, and you’ll find out they are pretty good guys — except when you’re competing against each other.”