xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

With lessons learned from late father, Chesapeake-AA pitcher Joe Seidler seeks elusive state title

Chesapeake-AA's Joe Seidler pitches during a game against River Hill last season. After learning baseball from his late father, a coach and former high school standout himself, Seidler returns for one last shot at a state title.
Chesapeake-AA's Joe Seidler pitches during a game against River Hill last season. After learning baseball from his late father, a coach and former high school standout himself, Seidler returns for one last shot at a state title. (By Matthew Cole / Capital Gazette)

No matter how complicated the world gets, the simple act of playing catch with one’s father can slow it down to a full stop. Ten minutes … 20 … 30 … the length of time doesn’t matter.

For Chesapeake-AA senior pitcher Joe Seidler, everything revolved around playing catch with his father, also named Joe. Or fielding fungoes. Or taking batting practice and sending some balls back up the middle against his old man — both loving every minute.

Advertisement

The elder Joe was a standout for legendary coach Harry Lentz at Northeast-AA in the mid-1980s. The younger Joe has become a two-time All-Metro selection, leading Chesapeake to the Class 3A state championship game each of the past two seasons.

Those title game appearances each ended in 4-3 losses, first to Huntingtown and then to Poolesville. Seidler, who committed to Radford last fall, returns for one last shot at a championship as he leads another deep and talented Chesapeake squad seeking its third state title and first since 2014.

Advertisement
Advertisement

As has been the case for the past two seasons, and for his entire life, Seidler has had strong support from his family, including his mother, Denise, and his brother, Ryan Dinko, as well as many friends in the Pasadena area.

“People around me definitely make me as good a person as I am,” Seidler said. “My friends have been great. Being around Ryan, who is a great baseball player himself and sees things differently than me — we make each other better at baseball. He gets off work and then comes over and sees as much of our games as he can, and my mom takes off work and comes over to see all the games as well. It is a family household thing. As for my day — I do everything for [my dad].”

Chesapeake-AA pitcher Joe Seidler delivers to a Poolesville batter during the Class 3A state championship game at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen last season.
Chesapeake-AA pitcher Joe Seidler delivers to a Poolesville batter during the Class 3A state championship game at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen last season. (Matt Button / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

It was always all about the fundamentals and doing your best every time. He was a great guy, and I compete for him.


Share quote & link

The elder Joe was not able to see Seidler become the player he is today. He died from cancer, at the age of 41, in April 2010, leaving behind two sons and a community that appreciated his dedication to coaching.

“His dad was a really good baseball player at Northeast, but he was also a very influential coach with the Lake Shore program,” said Mike Marsh, Chesapeake’s pitching and infield coach, and a former Cougar himself. “Joe bears the weight of his dad. A lot of kids don’t carry that kind of weight on their shoulders.”

Advertisement

The elder Joe played in the Havenwood Little League, moved to Northeast, and restarted the cycle by coaching his sons and their friends in Lake Shore. His bond, with Ryan and the younger Joe, was special.

“His bond with his dad was foremost about baseball; the driving factor is still baseball,” said Chesapeake coach Ken King, another Cougars alum. “I have never heard Joe talk about him, but he is a quiet kid. He is never boisterous; he is always even-keeled.”

Seidler is rarely loquacious, except maybe when he is talking to teammates after games, evaluating their performances and getting ready for the next contest. But, before each game, basketball or baseball, he takes a few moments to bow his head during the national anthem and pray to his father.

“With my father, every day, we were out hitting, throwing, pitching,” Seidler said. “My brother was always there to help me out, and we were always competing. It was always all about the fundamentals and doing your best every time. [My father] was a great guy, and I compete for him.”

Check out The Baltimore Sun's Top 15 high school baseball teams for the 2018 season.

And compete for him, Joe certainly has. He was called up to varsity midway through his freshman season, then exploded as a two-way threat as a sophomore. He batted .395 with two home runs and 19 RBIs while leading Anne Arundel County with 11 wins, including three shutouts, and posting a 0.68 ERA. His one loss that season came in the state final, when Huntingtown scored four runs in the seventh inning to shock the Cougars.

Seidler returned and had another strong year as a junior, going 6-2 on the mound while hitting .420 and leading the Cougars in hits, home runs and RBIs. However, Chesapeake fell to Poolesville by that same 4-3 final.

“We don’t talk about it a lot, we don’t need to, except for the opportunity we have,” Marsh said of the state title game losses. “Joe will be a three-year starter, which is rare for us. He is a rock because of his longevity, and his mental fortitude is such an asset. Because of his backstory, his priorities are always in the right place. In this game, you cannot dwell on that last pitch or last at-bat, and he does that as well as anyone I have ever coached.”

Although he does not dwell on it, Seidler has certainly prepared for his senior season as if he is on a mission. The baseball team had 23 weight-room sessions this winter, held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:30 a.m. Despite playing varsity basketball, Seidler made 22 of them, missing just one because of a late night in D.C. to see his favorite Washington Wizards play on his birthday.

“Our morning workout program has been around since 2012,” King said. “The guys from our 2014 championship team — Chris Ruszin, Drew Spinnenweber, John Drexel, Chase Delost and the rest — were fanatic about it. They set the tone and they reaped the benefits of their work. Joe is fanatic about it, too. I don’t thrust leadership on anyone, whether they are seniors or star players or not, but the rest of the team, the younger guys, they see Joe showing up every morning and getting at it. That is leadership.”

Marsh has known about Seidler’s work ethic, and his support system, for a long time.

“He is a hard worker, and part of it comes from the tight-knit group he is part of,” Marsh said. “Joe came up in the Lake Shore program with his dad, Joe Young [a Chesapeake assistant and father of standout pitcher Dylan Young] and Jay Brown. These kids were 5 to 6 years old and started playing travel ball. A lot of those travel ball teams now feature kids from all over the state or even region, but Joe’s travel team was made up of kids in his neighborhood. Those kids saw each other on a daily basis, and when Joe’s dad passed away, everyone knew what Joe needed. He would spend the night with teammates and go to tournaments with them, and they were always there for him. In turn, he is extremely appreciative and grateful for everything. He has been surrounded by a lot of great people.”

Check out The Baltimore Sun's top players to watch for the 2018 high school baseball season.

Seidler has shown his appreciation many times off the field, as well as through his high performance on it, which is expected to continue this year. He features a fastball that tops out between 86 and 88 mph, a two-seamer (“It starts way outside and then comes back and hits the corner,” Seidler said of his out pitch. “When it does that, you cannot do much with it.”), a slider that is more of a curveball, and a changeup he worked on all offseason and last summer with the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox.

“I hope that pitch gets the job done this year,” Seidler said. “I force a lot of ground balls and let my defense take care of it. I am trying to get my velocity up while keeping my control. If I can hit my spots, I am going to succeed.”

There is one more chance for Seidler and his Chesapeake teammates to finish on top. As always, the path is difficult, with the usual Anne Arundel County gantlet followed by a tough Class 3A East Region.

Advertisement

“We wear shirts that say W.I.N., which stands for ‘What’s Important Now,’ ” Seidler said. “That’s what all the workouts are for, focusing on staying within the moment. My high school career has definitely gone a lot faster than I thought, and it takes a lot of time and energy. The past two years, losing in the state championship, you just need to come back to work and do better, make the things around you better. All you can do is take a deep breath and focus on the next thing you can do.”

Advertisement

Through it all, Seidler has stayed the same, which his coaches and teammates appreciate.

“Joe has a really good excuse to act like a superstar, and he just doesn’t,” Marsh said. “That is what everyone likes about him. He does not want anyone to feel sorry for him or treat him differently. We have had some terrific athletes here, and Joe fits in with the caliber of kid and athlete we produce. We have what is still known as a blue-collar attitude. Kids who should act like superstars never do. He has such a bright future ahead of him.”

Through it all, his success in Pasadena and his future at Radford, where he is considering majoring in criminal justice, it is those times with his dad, playing catch and spending time on the diamond, that he holds most dear.

“It was pretty much the best time of my life,” Seidler said. “Everything I do, I do it for him.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement