For McDonogh alumnus Alan Robinson, being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals affords a chance to continue playing a game he loves.
Robinson was an honorable-mention All-Metro outfielder for the Eagles in 1987. He batted .452 that season and best remembers playing in the Crown All-Star game at Memorial Stadium.
"Three of us from McDonogh -- John Gast, Brian Salganik and me -- got to start in that game," said Robinson, who went on to star in football and baseball at Widener College.
Robinson was drafted in the 36th round of the pro baseball draft this week after winding up a four-year career at Widener with a .358 career batting average.
"I have been assigned to Peoria, Arizona, the Cardinals' Class A team," said Robinson. "I have to report June 15."
Robinson seemed even more elated to reveal that Gast, a third baseman, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 25th round out of East Carolina, where he was the Player of the Year in the Colonial Athletic Association.
"John and I are still very close," said Robinson. "We talked on the telephone this week and I can't wait to get home [this weekend] to see him and a lot of my other friends."
Robinson cited one incident this spring that may have been the catapult for his being drafted.
"We were tied 2-2 against St. Bonaventure, a Division I team, and I hit a home run in the seventh inning to win the game," he said. "The ball cleared the fence by a good bit and no one, especially me, thought anyone could reach the fence because there was a stiff 15-mph wind blowing in from centerfield."
Robinson did not know the exact distance of that home run, perhaps 400 feet, but some professional scouts asked him to be timed in the 60-yard -- after the game.
"The biggest thing is getting the opportunity to play professional ball," he said. "A lot of guys never get the chance."
Robinson hit .320 this spring, but drew 28 walks and was hit by nine pitches.
"The average wasn't as high, but the productivity was better," he said. "I scored 42 runs, so I was getting on base and helping the team."
Robinson figured his decision to skip playing football his senior year was a simple one.
"My main priority was my schoolwork," he said. "I wanted to do well academically, but I also needed time to get my legs and arm in shape for baseball. I never had time to do that while I was playing football." His talents were missed in football. Robinson had rushed for more than 1,500 yards over three seasons, averaging only 13 attempts per game. His 27.1-yard average for kickoff returns stands as Widener's all-time best.
"I am proud of that because I never had the opportunity to return kicks in high school," said Robinson. "I got the chance at Widener and was able to show I could be successful."
Robinson plans to take the same approach toward his professional baseball career.
"You just have to go out and play," he said. "I have been fortunate to learn to play within my capabilities. I'll keep doing that and see what happens."