An overflow of high school baseball talent - 30 of Maryland's top seniors - were all sporting suits at Camden Yards yesterday, getting recognition as well as final instructions for a special day that lies ahead.
On Sunday afternoon, they will trade those suits for uniforms, playing in the 20th Crown High School All-Star Game after the 1:30 p.m. Orioles-Montreal game.
For Mount St. Joseph pitcher Gavin Floyd, it will be the perfect ending of a stellar prep career and a memorable week, which started with the Philadelphia Phillies drafting him on Tuesday.
"I've never actually pitched a game at Camden Yards, so it will be exciting. It will be a preview of what pitching in a big-league stadium is like," he said.
For others, such as Arundel catcher Brian Puglise and Hammond pitcher Kevin Schwartz, it will reward a lot of hard work.
"I was shocked to make the team, so I'm living it up," said Schwartz, a member of the South team. "Just being honored with it means a lot. As for the game, I'm going to take as many moments as I can to just sit back and look up in the stands, feel the grass, run on the dirt - everything. What more can I ask for? I grew up watching the Orioles play."
What started out with 80 players in the four different regions in the state has been whittled down to two 15-player rosters representing the North and South. Players from the four region teams competed in the Maryland Classic over Memorial Day weekend, and a committee from the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches decided on the final selections for Sunday's game.
"The Crown game is one of the first major events that we did, and it's lasted 20 years. It's reached the point now where kids come into school knowing they want to play in the Crown game," said MSABC president Rod Cameron. "It's a big day for us, because we put a lot of hard work into making it all happen, and to see the enjoyment the kids have is an immediate payback."
"It's not just the players. Everybody in this room, all the dads and probably some of the moms - we all wish we could walk down onto a major-league field and be part of a game," said Towson coach Bill Yosca, who will manage the North squad. "I always wanted to stand on the pitcher's mound and just look up. I'm going to get my chance on Sunday."
Said Puglise, who just helped Arundel to the Class 4A state title, the school's ninth: "It's definitely special to be out on that field. It's a lot bigger than you would think. It will definitely feel good to know all the hard work has come to an end, and we can go out on the Baltimore Orioles' field and be able to play the same place they do."
2001 Crown High School
All-Star rosters NORTH Pitchers - Gavin Floyd, Mount St. Joseph; Trevor MacMeekin, Dulaney; Alan Webber, Brunswick; Tyler Wingerd, Thomas Johnson. Catchers - Brian Valichka, Urbana; Brent Weiss, St. Paul's. Infielders - Craig King, Cardinal Gibbons; Brooks Norris, Archbishop Curley; Danny Prevatt, Archbishop Curley; Joe Sargent, Mount St. Joseph; Justin Tester, Archbishop Curley. Outfielders - Kevin Goode, Brunswick; Shane Justis, Bel Air; Kevin Reaver, Linganore; Paul Winterling, McDonogh. Coaches - Bill Yosca, Towson; Dan Fravel, Rising Sun; Lou Holcomb, Cardinal Gibbons.
SOUTH Pitchers - Josh Clow, St. Michael's; Kevin Cunningham, Blake; Steve Johnson, Old Mill; Kevin Schwartz, Hammond. Catchers - Ken Myers, Thomas Stone; Brian Puglise, Arundel. Infielders - Brad Dean, North Caroline; Joe Donahue, Riverdale Baptist; Craig English, Old Mill; Jayson Jennings, Broadneck; Mike Sweeney, Riverdale Baptist. Outfielders - Chris Bowen, Glenelg; Will Frazier, Riverdale Baptist; Nick Pleyo, Arundel; Ryan Terrill. Coaches - Ken Brace, Watkins Mill; Vic Mollet, Damascus; Brian Femi, St. Michael's.