Diamonds in the rough football world Kelly, Milisitz baseball hits, too

September 29, 1992|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff writer

A lot of high school football players are rolling over for extra sleep on Saturday mornings. Chris Kelly of Northeast and John Milisitz of Severna Park are exceptions.

"Saturday mornings are real drudgery, but I'm sure we will get something positive out of it," Kelly said.

Each is a standout on his school's football team, Kelly as the Class 2A Eagles' leading running back and safety and Milisitz as a kicker, receiver and safety for the Class 4A Falcons.

But on Saturdays, they play baseball for the Oriolelanders, a team of pro and college prospects from the Mid-Atlantic area.

Kelly (6-1, 0.96 ERA as a junior last spring) is a relief pitcher for the Oriolelanders.

Milisitz, an All-County catcher and DH and second-team All-Metro -- he led the county last spring in hitting at .508 -- is the Oriolelanders' catcher.

"They've both done very well for us," said the Baltimore Orioles territorial scouting supervisor, Jim Gilbert. "Both are great kids. We would like to get Chris more work, and I guess you could say John is overworked.

"John's been catching doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday the past couple weeks while our other catcher [David Sullivan of Waynesboro, Pa.] is recovering from an injury."

Doubleheaders start at 1 p.m. with the players arriving two hours before game time. That means 10-hour days on the diamond.

Kelly and Milisitz admit that by playing football Friday nights, their baseball suffers somewhat on Saturdays. Kelly said the extra load takes about 3 or 4 mph off his fastball. Milisitz says he's not as good a catcher as when he is playing baseball only. That doesn't mean they're going to cut back.

"The exposure and instruction you get playing for the Oriolelanders makes the sacrifice worthwhile," Milisitz said. "There are usually 10 to 15 scouts at our games, and I've gotten a lot of phone calls from college coaches interested in me since the start of this fall."

Kelly and Milisitz are considered pro prospects, but both are also interested in college. Kelly is a right-hander who throws in the low 80s. Milisitz is a catcher with a great arm, good speed, a quick bat and good power.

Each is 6 feet and 185 pounds, and the similarities don't stop there. They are excellent students, boasting identical 1,160 SAT scores.

Kelly has a 3.6 grade-point average and takes several advanced-placement classes. He likes chemistry and trigonometry. Milisitz carries a 2.30 GPA and is intrigued by criminal law.

"Right now I'm very interested in the Naval Academy," Kelly said. "At a service academy you get an all-around education, and I would like to be a leader in the service."

Despite his interest in the military, Kelly is not ruling out a four-year university or a shot at pro baseball, which he said is "the dream of every kid who plays."

Milisitz has the same dream, but a four-year university is more to his liking. North Carolina State, the University of Maryland and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., are among the schools showing interest.

"Pro baseball is my main goal, but I'm very interested in criminal law and the FBI," said Milisitz, who moved with his mom, Margie, and 20-year-old sister, Christine, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Severna Park two years ago after the death of his father, John.

His father, a computer technician, died of cancer.Football and baseball have helped John cope with the tragedy.

"Playing sports helped me straighten my act up [academically] and encouraged me to succeed," Milisitz said.

Their high school football coaches, Bart Rader at Northeast and Andy Borland at Severna Park, don't care for the idea of athletes playing baseball and football simultaneously, but don't want to hold them back either.

"I don't particularly care for it, but it's OK for Chris because he can handle the academics," Rader said.

Borland said a lot of interest has been shown in Milisitz as a kicker and pass receiver, but while he "doesn't like [him playing both sports in the fall] you have to consider where the kid's future might be.

"Baseball might be John's future, but I get a fistful of letters on him from Division 1 schools every couple weeks. I want my kids to experience everything they can."

That's also the sentiment of Gilbert, whose livelihood depends on finding athletes who have the potential to play pro baseball.

"I would never discourage a kid from playing football," said Gilbert, whose son, Tom, played both sports at Mount St. Joseph High and is in the Gaels' Athletic Hall of Fame.

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