While awaiting another chance, Joe 'A to Z' pitches as missionary

SIDELINES

October 27, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

With the World Series over, it's time to stoke the coals on the hot stove.

Whatever happened to Joe "A-to-Z," somebody asked me the other day.

Joe A-to-Z is Joe Andrezjewski, a former Chesapeake High hard-throwing right-hander, who was a third-round draft choice of the Milwaukee Brewers in June 1988.

The only Anne Arundel County player ever drafted higher was Andover High's Jim Spencer, who was a No. 1 draft pick of the California Angels in June 1965.

A-to-Z turned down a full scholarship to the University of Miami and signed a bonus contract estimated at more than $50,000 with the Brewers. After a yo-yo-like minor-league career in which arm injuries played a major part, A-to-Z was released in 1991, but signed the next year as a free agent with the Orioles.

Blessed with an arm that enabled him to throw the ball at 90 mph, A-to-Z never got it together with the Orioles either and was released last year.

"Joe is doing missionary work in Amsterdam and headed for India for more," said his mother, Linda Andrezjewski, last week. "He has really matured and is dedicated to missionary work. He got interested in spring training with the Orioles last year talking to Tippy Martinez."

Martinez, a former Orioles left-hander, has been involved for years in outreach programs with former Orioles Pat Kelly and Scott McGregor.

"Tippy really influenced Joe, and I believe he is now a youth with a mission," Linda Andrezjewski said.

She said her 22-year-old son has not given up hope of pitching in the majors and hopes to get another shot next spring.

"Joe has always been special and I know he still wants to pitch," she said.

I saw A-to-Z at a couple of high school games involving his alma mater last spring. He seemed in great spirits then, and when PPTC asked him about pitching again, I could see the fire in his eyes.

It's not easy growing up as a minor-leaguer and that was part of A-to-Z's problem. He was only 17 when he went away and had trouble adjusting to the rigors of the minors, which pales in comparison to the glamour of the majors.

In the movies

Have you heard that another current Milwaukee Brewers minor-leaguer, Severna Park's John Milisitz landed a bit part in the movie "Major League II," which is being filmed in Baltimore?

After returning home from Montana and his first year in pro ball, Milisitz, The Baltimore Sun's All-Metro and All-County catcher, auditioned with a lot of other Anne Arundel countians. He landed a brief non-speaking part as a minor-leaguer in the locker room lamenting his release.

Top honor for Giles

Did you know that Arundel High's All-Metro first baseman and Baltimore Sun High School Baseball Player of the Year Tim Giles is set to receive still another honor?

Giles, who coach Bernie Walter says had "the best swing ever at Arundel," has started at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. When he comes home to Crofton for the Christmas holidays, Giles will attend the Tops in Sports baseball banquet in Towson in January for a special reason. Last week, the Maryland Professional Baseball Players Association, which sponsors Tops in Sports, voted Giles the 1993 High School Baseball Player of the Year in Maryland.

Recently Giles got word that he has been invited to next year's U.S. Olympic team tryouts.

Giles has another year of eligibility with Walter's Mayo American Legion team, but might opt to play in the Great Lakes Summer College League or possibly the Corrigan's 20-and-under team of Walter Youse.

Rick Forney of Annapolis just missed winning the Tops in Sports Maryland Star of the Future Award after a banner season in Double-A baseball in the Orioles' organization.

Forney, a hard-throwing right-hander, lost out to Brian Bark, a left-hander from Randallstown High, who sparkled with the Atlanta Braves' Triple-A affiliate in Richmond.

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