Blast's Doug Neely, soon to be in Hall, a fan favorite

December 10, 2010|By Mike Miller, The Baltimore Sun

Doug Neely was a fan favorite during his seven seasons as a defender for the Baltimore Blast and Baltimore Spirit. After games, he signed autographs until each fan that stayed late was satisfied. In his free time, he taught kids the fundamentals of soccer, and when he first arrived in Baltimore, his long, blond hair drew the adulation of the Blast's female fans.

Neely cherished his time in Baltimore, and at halftime of today's game against the Missouri Comets at 1st Mariner Arena, the Blast will induct Neely into the club's Hall of Fame.

"He's a great guy," Blast general manager Kevin Healey said. "He's a happy-go-lucky guy and got along with everybody. He was just somebody that everybody liked. On the field, the competitiveness, he served that will to win."

Neely came to the Blast for the 1991-92 season, played for the Spirit from 1992 to 1994 and played the final four years of his career for the Blast from 1998 to 2002. He was a three-time All-Star in Baltimore and ranks among the Blast's top 20 all-time scorers with 183 points.

Neely is already a member of the Chapman University Hall of Fame, but today he'll join a more select group that features defenders Heinz Wirtz and Richard Chinapoo, and forward Dave MacWilliams.

Those three and several other former players will be present for the ceremony to welcome Neely into the group.

"I'm overwhelmed because some of the names that are up there, the skills they had and they way they played the game was insane -- guys I looked up to," Neely said. "To be mentioned with those guys is just crazy. They are some world-class players."

As his playing career neared its end, Neely began planning for life after soccer. He enrolled in the master's program at Loyola College for marketing and juggled a job in the Blast's marketing department between games and practices. Now, Neely owns Coastal Printing Solutions, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based company that occasionally prints promotional items and mailers for the Blast.

His work ethic and compassion left a mark on former Blast trainer Marty McGinty and his wife, Anne. When the couple were deciding on a name for their first son, they chose Neely.

"There were so many memories on the field, but as time goes on you just remember the people you met and friendships you forged," Neely said. "That is what keeps me coming back to Baltimore. I love it there."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.