Thomas Stone baseball won’t field team in 2017
Low numbers force storied SMAC program to be put on hold this spring
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.”