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Baltimore Orioles

Orioles draftee Anthony Servideo aims to follow footsteps of grandfather Curt Blefary, 1965 Rookie of the Year

Anthony Servideo was too young to get to know his World Series-winning grandfather when Curt Blefary died in 2001, but that didn’t keep the young baseball player from routinely asking his mom, uncle and grandmother about him.

So when the Orioles drafted Servideo in the third round of last week’s MLB draft, he knew all about how Blefary was an Oriole when he earned 1965 American League Rookie of the Year honors and helped Baltimore win its first World Series a year later.

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“We have a lot of pictures of him and memorabilia, and growing up, he's been my idol,” Servideo said during a video conference call Monday. “I want to follow in his footsteps. Hopefully, be a better player than he was.”

Blefary opened his major league career with four years in Baltimore, hitting 82 home runs, before being traded to the Houston Astros in a deal that brought back Orioles Hall of Famer Mike Cuellar. After a year in Houston, Blefary spent time with the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres before calling it a career.

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Almost 50 years later, the Orioles drafted his grandson, a defensively strong shortstop out of Ole Miss, with the 74th overall pick. In 17 games this spring, Servideo hit .390/.575/.695 with five home runs, more than his first two seasons combined, before the coronavirus pandemic shut down college baseball. In his college career, he stole 34 bases in 38 tries.

“My confidence for sure grew a ton, and that helped me have success and perform,” Servideo said. “I changed some small things with my swing, which allowed me to keep the same approach throughout the 17 games that we played and just continue to have aggressiveness at the plate. That was a big thing for me coming off of last year, just being able to stay aggressive no matter what the count is or who's pitching.”

Servideo’s connections to the organization don’t end with his grandfather. After his freshman season, Servideo spent the summer in Baltimore playing in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, where he was coached by Tom Eller, the longtime Harford Community College coach and now the hitting coach of the Orioles’ High-A affiliate in Frederick after a season with short-season Aberdeen.

Servideo has also played against each of the three players the Orioles drafted before him. He faced Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad, who Baltimore took second overall, and Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg, the 30th overall pick, in Southeastern Conference play, while Ole Miss’ 2019 nonconference schedule included Tulane, where Orioles second-rounder Hudson Haskin starred.

Servideo said that he has stayed in close contact with Westburg since playing for the same team as him in the Cape Cod League last summer, while he and Haskin work out and hit together regularly in South Florida. He’s looking forward to growing closer with Kjerstad, too.

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“I'm excited that he's gonna be on my team,” Servideo said. “He's not going to be hitting home runs against me. He'll be hitting them for me.”




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