Father gives lift to rising son

All-Metro center fielder Steve Bumbry has another coach at Dulaney this season - former Oriole Al Bumbry.


Steve Bumbry already has a head start on his father.

The Dulaney senior, a two-time All-Metro center fielder, has a baseball scholarship to Virginia Tech. His father, former Oriole Al Bumbry, earned a basketball scholarship to Virginia State College and didn't play baseball until his senior year there.

Steve Bumbry also has a big advantage over his father - he's had Al Bumbry teaching him the game since he was a small child. And that teacher-student relationship has been taken a step further this season.

"Ace [Dulaney coach Carl Allender] has been working on me for two years to be on the staff," said Al Bumbry, who is co-head coach with Allender this season. "I've always tried to spend as much time with Steve, and I love working with young kids. ... Since I played, I think I have a lot to offer."

Last spring, Steve Bumbry, who wears No. 1 as his father did, elevated nearly every offensive statistic from his sophomore season. He also was a leadoff hitter like his father before moving down to third or fourth in the order due to his increased power. An intensive weight and conditioning program built the 5-foot-11 left-handed hitter up to 185 pounds.

He batted .434 with seven homers - after hitting none as a 10th-grader - 39 RBIs, 33 runs scored, 10 doubles, two triples and stole 32 bases in 34 attempts. Bumbry ranks with Calvert Hall's returning All-Metro catcher Joe Velleggia as the metro area's top two hitters.

"It's been very gratifying watching him grow as a player and young man," said Al Bumbry, who played with the Orioles from 1972 to 1984. "He's been hanging around me and baseball since he was 3 years old and I was a coach with the Boston Red Sox. I've got pictures of him in a Red Sox uniform."

So, what does Steve Bumbry think of his new high school coach?

"I'm really excited about it because he will make us a lot better," said Steve, who played basketball earlier but gave it up to focus on baseball. "It should be fun. He's always enjoyed coaching and as long as he's on the baseball field, he's happy. We've got a lot of returnees and our goal is to win a state championship, and he can help us get there."

Prior to this season, Al Bumbry would sit in a lawn chair like the other parents and encourage the kids. Allender, who coached at Franklin in the 1970s and has been the Lions' coach the past three years, felt it was time to put the former center fielder in uniform.

"In Baltimore County, if you have a kid playing, you can't be a volunteer coach and have to be a paid coach," Allender said. "This summer, I went with Steve and Team Maryland to Oklahoma, and of course, so did Al. I really worked on him to coach this year and talked him into it. Steve is a lot like his father, both humble and hard-working."

Allender made Steve Bumbry a co-captain with another four-year varsity player, Lions catcher Greg Hoffman.

"Steve organizes practices in the offseason [in which coaches are not allowed], and I'll miss him more than Al [will]," Allender said.

It was at the urging of late Orioles scout Dick Bowie that Al Bumbry, who averaged 32 points a game at Ralph Bunche High in King George, Va., his senior year, took up baseball his last year of college in 1968.

Bumbry was drafted in the eighth round by the Orioles in June of 1968 after leading the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association in batting (.378). It was his only season of college baseball and he was named All-CIAA in both basketball and baseball.

Four years later, Bumbry was in the big leagues with the Orioles, appearing in nine games in 1972. The next season he batted .337, led the American League in triples (11) and was named Rookie of the Year.

Bumbry played 14 seasons in the majors, the last with the San Diego Padres in 1985. He had a career batting average of .281, played in two World Series and was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1987.

Is Bumbry hoping his son can follow in his footsteps?

"Obviously I would be very happy if he played pro ball and makes it to the big leagues," he said. "It's a matter of his determination and work ethic. He's 17 years old, and at that age, a lot of young kids don't really know what it takes to make the big leagues."

Steve Bumbry said it's his goal to play in the major leagues.

"I definitely want to play pro baseball," said Steve, who carries a 3.32 grade point average, scored 1,210 out of 1,600 on his SAT and plans to major in business management at Virginia Tech. "It's been my dream to play in the big leagues since I was little and started tagging along with my dad. Being around big leaguers, the ball parks and atmosphere has given me an advantage of knowing what it's like."

Orioles scout Dean Albany, who runs the Oriolelanders fall showcase team, said: "Steve had a great fall. He has his father's instincts in center field, gets an excellent jump on the ball, takes instruction very well, and I think he's a heck of a hitter who will do well at the [Division I] level."

Al Bumbry agrees.

"Steve has a very good swing and hitting mechanics," he said. "He just needs to recognize pitches better. He has an above-average throwing arm, his power numbers are up, but he's not as fast as I was. That's his only tool that does not stand out, but he can hit."

Now as his coach, Al Bumbry just wants to get his son to look at him when he's giving pointers.

"I'm giving instruction one day and Steve's not looking at me," Bumbry said. "He's looking at the ground. So, I tell him, you're going to have to learn to look at your coach, and he tells me, `I hear what you're saying and am paying attention, but you're my dad, that's why I don't look right at you.' "

Only now, Al Bumbry is his father and his coach.


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