Severna Park coach Don Gregg's worse fears came to fruition Aug. 15 when senior Scott Neuberger didn't show up for the first day of soccer practice.
Neuberger, an All-Metro and All-County striker as a junior with 16 goals and three assists for the state 4A runner-up Falcons, is giving up soccer to play fall baseball.
The chance for exposure in front of college and pro scouts while playing for the Oriolelanders, a team of players from Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania considered to be pro and college prospects, prompted his decision.
Playing for the Oriolelanders, run by Baltimore Orioles Territorial Supervisor Jim Gilbert, is a weekend commitment (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) that allows no time for soccer or football.
"Scott has an excellent chance to make our ballclub," said Gilbert, who with his staff will look at nearly 200 candidates this weekend in Frederick and pare them to a 20-25 player squad that will play a near 50-game schedule through Oct. 30.
A speedy 6-foot-2 and 190-pound athlete, Neuberger was also All-Metro and All-County in baseball last spring, batting .578 with seven homers, 32 runs and 20 RBIs. Neuberger followed up his great spring with a great summer for the Severna Park American Legion.
Neuberger batted .420 with nine home runs and 46 RBIs for his Legion team and decided in late July, that baseball, not soccer, was going to be his ticket to college.
"I talked to a lot of people, including Mr. Gregg, and decided that baseball is what I will play in college, and that's the reason I've decided to play for the Oriolelanders this fall," said Neuberger, who has played soccer since age 6.
"It was a very difficult decision to make because I didn't want to let my teammates down, but soccer got kind of boring, and I
won't miss the 7 a.m. practices. My soccer teammates and friends respect my decision."
North County senior pitcher Mike Wooden is the only returning Oriolelander from Anne Arundel County, and the competition is so keen that there are no guarantees that any one player will make the team.
"If I don't make the Oriolelanders, I'll play in a couple other tournaments with various teams and work on my hitting as often as I can," said Neuberger, who also said he will not go back to soccer.
Around the horn
Old Mill's Ken Pumphrey, a fourth-round pick of the New York Mets in June who is pitching at Port St. Lucie (rookie team), is 1-2 with an ERA of 3.00 and has been invited to the club's Instructional league for September and October.
* South River has lost its outstanding senior right-hander Randy Long to a transfer to St. John's in the Washington area. Long, who has pitched three years of varsity baseball for the Seahawks, has been reunited with his former Annapolis Babe Ruth 14-15 coach, Ed Gibbs, a Davidsonville resident who is head coach at St. John's.
* Maryland Orioles 12-and-under coach Dean Albany, whose team won the NABF World Series and finished fourth in the AABC series in New Mexico, has issued a challenge after watching the Little League World Series from Williamsport on ESPN.
"The California team [Encintas Reds, runner-up to Puerto Rico] we played in New Mexico beat that California, Northridge team that's in Williamsport by 26-0 this summer," Albany said.
"The pitchers in Williamsport are throwing 63-64 mph from 44 feet while I had kids throwing 70-73 from 50 feet, and our fences were over 200 feet [Williamsport distance] and mostly 250. We would win that easy. It would be a joke, and I intend to challenge that Springfield [Va.] team when they get back home."