Coaching at Camden
Smith, Root help North team to win at Brooks Robinson All-Star Game
Although there were no players from Southern Maryland Athletic Conference schools who were able to take the field on Sunday afternoon in the 36th edition of the Brooks Robinson All-Star Game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, a pair of SMAC baseball coaches were in the winning dugout that day.
Huntingtown High School head coach Guy Smith and La Plata High School assistant coach Bill Root, filling in for the vacationing John Childers, were coaches for the North squad that prevailed 3-1 over the South team on Sunday. The latest edition of the Brooks Robinson game had an added meaning for Smith, who played in the first game that Camden Yards hosted in 1992 soon after graduating from Northern High School.
“It meant a lot to me to walk into that dugout and walk out onto that field 25 years after I had the chance to play in the first Brooks Robinson game at Camden Yards,” said Smith, who played college baseball at the University of Maryland for coach Tom Bradley. “It was hard to believe that it had been 25 years since I had played in the game there.”
Back in 1992, the same
season that Camden Yards opened as the home of the Baltimore Orioles after the team spent nearly 30 years playing at Memorial Stadium after moving from the midwest playing as the St. Louis Browns, Smith was on the South team that lost a 7-6 decision to the North squad. But Sunday afternoon his North team prevailed thanks to an RBI single by Brendan Collins, a recent graduate of Sherwood High School in Montgomery County.
“It was a thrill for me to be there when I was a kid and I know it’s still a big thrill for the kids that get to play in the game now,”
Smith said. “Not many kids ever have the chance to walk across a perfectly maintained major league field like the one in Baltimore. It’s one of those moments you never forget growing up.”
While Smith was able to conjure up memories of yesteryear walking across the diamond and sitting in the clubhouse at Camden Yards on Sunday, the contest marked a genuine first for Root. Although a graduate of Salisbury University in 2014 and currently a teacher at Milton M. Somers Middle School in La Plata, Sunday’s game marked the first time that the Philadelphia native had ever been to Camden Yards.
“Having grown up in Philadelphia, I have always been a die-hard Phillies fans and I’ve been to their games a number of times over the years,” Root said. “But [Sunday] was the first time that I had ever been to Camden Yards. I’ve seen games on television living down here, but I had never been to the stadium. It’s got a historic feel to it, even though it’s really not that old.”
Smith coached the
North team one year after SMAC schools were well-represented in the contest. Taylor Cook, Scott Logue and Tyler Stockwell, all key members of the 2016 La Plata state championship team and Bowen Plagge (Leonardtown) all played in that game. Huntingtown graduate Devaughn Reed was an alternate, but none of the regulars dropped out to create a vacancy.
“Devaughn had the chance to play in one of the preliminary All-star games in Salisbury,” Smith said, referring to a game played one week earlier at the home of the Delmarva Shorebirds, an Orioles Single-A club. “None of the alternates had the chance to play in the game on Sunday because none of the
starters opted out.”
Smith noted that there will be a freshman-sophomore All-Star game at Prince George’s Stadium, home of the Bowie Baysox, the Orioles’ Double-A squad, in July. Smith may not have vaulted from the Brooks Robinson game to the major leagues, but several players have made the jump over the years after playing in the contest named for the Orioles legendary Hall of Fame third baseman.
Billy Ripken, who later played for the Orioles alongside his considerably more famous older brother, Cal Ripken Jr., actually played in the inaugural game at Memorial Stadium in 1982. Former major league pitcher Denny Neagle played in the 1986 game there, while Ray Wright (1997) and Mark Teixeira (1998) played in later editions at Camden Yards before heading to the big leagues.