Thomas Stone base­ball won’t field team in 2017

Low num­bers force sto­ried SMAC pro­gram to be put on hold this spring

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

Three state cham­pi­onships, three state run­ner-up fin­ishes, six ap­pear­ances in the state semi­fi­nals and 15 South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onships has the Thom- as Stone base­ball pro­gram among the most sto­ried in Mary­land his­tory.

This spring, Stone will not field a team due to low num­bers.

The pro­gram has seen its num­bers dwin­dle in the last sev- eral years, lead­ing to this year’s un­for­tu­nate de­vel­op­ment.

Stone ath­letic di­rec­tor Brad Criss said there were only six play­ers dur­ing the first four days of try­outs, leav­ing the rest of the ros­ter to be filled. After talk­ing to long­time Cougars head coach Ed Glaeser, the de­ci­sion was made to not have a team this sea­son.

The Cougars, who fin­ished with an 8-12 over­all record and a fourth-place 6-6 record in the SMAC’s Po­tomac Di­vi­sion last year, grad­u­ated six se­niors and had just one se­nior com- ing back to this sea­son’s team along with a hand­ful of promis­ing sopho­mores. A team must field at least 12 play­ers and Stone lacked those num­bers.

“This is an un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion for our school and even more for the kids who came out and were ready to play,” Criss said. “In our district we just don’t have a lot of kids that play travel base­ball and the num- bers are low. The kids are also spe­cial­iz­ing in other sports like soc­cer, lacrosse and bas­ket­ball. This puts us at a dis­ad­van­tage in the county.”

Glaeser, who coached base­ball at Stone for over 30 years, noted with the num­bers get­ting smaller he could see this com- ing with the team not be­ing able to play this spring.

“When I came back to coach in 2015 the ju­nior var- sity pro­gram was elim­i­nated and last year we only had 13, just enough to have a var­sity team and that was be­cause we had six fresh­men come out,” Glaeser said. “We had eight fresh­men come out for the team in the last two years. I knew last year that this would hap­pen. It is hard to de­velop a pro­gram with the num­bers down like this. The par­ents aren’t happy and this takes away from the kids that want to learn and play the game of base­ball.”

Glaeser added that at one time Stone base­ball was one of the strong­est as­sets of the school and to see the pro­gram di­min­ished by num­bers is tough to pon­der.

“This was one of the first es- tab­lished pro­grams in the county,” Glaeser said. “The re-zon­ing not only hurt our pro­gram, but some of the other schools are im­pacted as well. I re­mem­ber back in 2009 we were a 4A school now we are down to 2A.”

Criss added: “Fam­i­lies in the com­mu­nity now have to find a place so their kids can play base­ball and gain ex­po­sure. The en­roll­ment in the school has dropped tremen­dously and the stu­dents are driven to play sports and they can’t do that with no base­ball team.”

Also im­pacted are the other six base­ball teams in Charles County, all of which were

forced to find two games to add to their sched­ules to re­place the sched­uled games against Stone. Stone’s base­ball field will still see some ac­tion this year, as St. Charles will play its home games there.

“Hon­estly I’m shocked that Stone couldn’t find 12 guys to play base­ball,” said La Pla- ta head coach John Childers, who help lead his War­riors to a 2A state crown last spring. “It hurts high school base­ball in the county fore­most.”

The Stone sit­u­a­tion is in­dica- tive of what has been hap­pen­ing to smaller schools and could be trou­ble­some mov­ing into the fu­ture. Num­bers have been down in most sports in the county and Stone’s base­ball pro­gram, which for decades set the bar in SMAC, is the first ca­su­alty.

“As a fan, former player and coach I was dis­ap­pointed to find out that Stone wasn’t able to field a team this year,” Lack- ey head coach Ti­mothy Mc- Glenn said. “It’s re­ally un­for- tu­nate for the kids, school and com­mu­nity. It shows the gen- eral state of base­ball and the cur­rent strug­gle to gen­er­ate con­tin­ued in­ter­est and en­thu­si­asm for the game with to­day’s youth. Kids are grow­ing up in a dif­fer­ent world and are used to in­stant en­ter­tain­ment and for some kids base­ball seems bor­ing. Kids also face a lot of pres­sure to spe­cial­ize in sin­gle sports, too.”

Criss hopes that the num­bers will go up and the pro­gram is re­vived, but it will take some time.

“Ed Glaeser was the cor­ner­stone of Thomas Stone base­ball and teach­ing these young men and we have to find a coach,” Criss said. “I think one of the so­lu­tions is to start with base­ball in our mid­dle school pro­grams to help re­build Stone base­ball.”

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