Tag Archives: Baseball

Gus Talks Sports: Notre Dame Pitcher, Peter Solomon ’14

St. Joe senior Gus Singleton continues his interview series with 2014 Mount grad Peter Solomon. Peter played varsity baseball at Mount Saint Joe, and led the team as the featured pitcher. During his senior year, he was named by Baseball America as the #1 high school pitching prospect in the state of Maryland. He was extensively scouted by major league baseball teams, ultimately being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 21st Round.

In the spring of 2014, you were scouted by every team in Major League Baseball and drafted by the San Diego Padres. What was that like?

Last spring was a crazy time for me. I had multiple MLB teams come to my house for in-home visits before the season, and I got letters from every team in the MLB. Every game I pitched, there were multiple scouts behind the plate evaluating every pitch. It was one of the best experiences of my life. After the season a couple teams invited me to their respective stadiums to perform in front of them for one last time. Unfortunately I was only able to go to Camden Yards to pitch for the O’s. The week leading up to draft day was the most stressful week of my life, having to choose between two great options, Notre Dame or the Draft. I chose Notre Dame. I couldn’t be more grateful towards the San Diego Padres for drafting me.

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Peter Solomon pitching for The Mount during his senior year. Photo Credit: The Baltimore Sun

What are some of your best baseball memories from MSJ?

I had a great time wearing the Gaels jersey across my chest. If I had to narrow it down to three moments it would come down to winning the President’s Cup my sophomore year, beating Calvert Hall at their place my junior year, and the trips down to Myrtle Beach every spring with the team. Those are some memories I will have with me for the rest of my life.

What are your favorite things about Notre Dame?

There are a lot of thing I love about Notre Dame: football games, the beautiful campus, and much more.  All of these things make Notre Dame the place that it is. But my favorite things so far at ND are the rich tradition, the people of Notre Dame, and being able to represent the university playing baseball.

Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Cougars vs Notre Dame Fighting IrishFebruary 13, 2015 Notre Dame defeated So.Illinois-Edwardsville 7-6
Peter Solomon ’14 throws a pitch for Notre Dame.

Did MSJ prepare you for college?

St. Joe did a great job preparing me for college. I would especially say that of the AP classes. The teachers at MSJ truly care about you, which made a huge difference for my success in academics.

Who were some of your favorite teachers at MSJ?

I was lucky enough to have many of the legends of MSJ, such as Mr. Kenyon, Mr. Cegelski, and Mr. McDivitt. Mr. Kenyon had style and pushed you harder than any other teacher. Another teacher I looked forward to everyday was Mr. Gibbons, who taught AP Economics. His class everyday was awesome, never a dull moment. Also, a ‘shoutout’ to Homeroom 313 with Mr. Davis, who is one of the best dudes at that school, always fresh in the Hawaiian shirt.

What role does your Christian faith play in baseball and your life?

The Christian faith has always played a huge role in my life, since I grew up in a Christian family and was raised Catholic. I am a strong believer in faith and that God has a plan for everyone; you just have to find out what yours is. I’m still not sure what God has in store for me, but I know that he will be watching over me in all of my journeys. In terms of baseball, God has blessed me with the talent for the game. As a team and at Notre Dame, we thank Him before every game for everything he has done for us and ask Him to continue to watch over us and guide our lives.

Gus Singleton is a Senior at Mount Saint Joseph High School.

Orioles’ FanFest: An Interview with Coach Harris

IMG_2521Orioles’ FanFest is an annual celebration where the fans interact with some of their favorite players. The Mount Saint Joe baseball program gets invited back to help out with Fan Fest every year. To preview FanFest for this year, I sat down with Mr. Harris, the head coach of the varsity baseball team, to ask him some questions regarding St. Joe’s participation in Orioles FanFest.

Jake Howell: What is your favorite memory from any of the FanFests the team has attended?

Mr. Jody Harris: Well I’d have to say when Steve Clevenger got traded to the Orioles, that was kind of a pretty special thing. Not only were we interacting with the Orioles and helping them promote baseball in Baltimore, but the fact that we had a personal connection with one of the players was special for me having coached him. It was a pretty neat thing for our players to be around someone who played in the same program that they’re playing in.

JH: Who are some Orioles players you have talked to over the years?

MH: I’ve talked to a significant number of them. It’s been my experience that for the most part those guys are pretty accommodating and just regular guys. I mean, we see them as supermen because they’re professional athletes, but the fact is they’re just regular people. I remember interacting with players who were long shots to make the team, and when they made the team I sort of felt a connection to them. For example, last year I sat next to Jimmy Paredes, waiting for one of the instructional times to come up. He doesn’t speak very much English, but I was able to communicate with him and the Chick-Fil-A cow. That is what we had in common, that we both liked chicken. But the fact of the matter was he was a long shot to make the team, and then he had the best spring of his career and made the team out of spring training. Then I felt a connection to Jimmy Paredes all year-long, because of the chicken-cow connection.

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Varsity Baseball Coach Mr. Harris and Orioles player Jimmy Paredes

JH: How do you think the Orioles’ players rub off on our players?

MH: I would say that generally the players are good role models for our guys. They see how those players interact with the community, they see how they interact with the kids, and more often than not those players are pretty friendly to our players too, so I think generally our players have come away with a pretty good feeling about those guys. It’s kind of neat to have been next to and helped in an instructional phase with a player that you see on TV that season. That’s kind of a neat thing I think is an outcome of our participation in FanFest. There have been some instances where I have been disappointed in some of the ways the players interacted with our guys and with the fans, but overall their actions have been positive.

JH: How did St. Joe’s participation in FanFest come together?

MH: I am not exactly positive, but I know that Mr. Norton and Mr. Cameron run the Brooks Robinson High School All-Star Game, which is played at Camden Yards, and used to be in conjunction with the Orioles. So Mr. Norton has had a pretty long relationship with the Orioles, particularly people in their marketing department. I remember that it was the Crown All-Star Game at the time when Baltimore hosted the MLB All-Star Game, and the players that were chosen for the Crown All-Star Game were the ones that shagged flies for the Home Run Derby contest, so that connection goes back quite a long ways. I believe that was maybe 1993, so Mount Saint Joe and the Baltimore Orioles have had a pretty strong working relationship for a number of years.

JH: How did Steve Clevenger react when he found out he was being traded to the Baltimore Orioles?

MH: Well, I remember being in touch with him and how excited he was to be coming back to Baltimore. The downside was he also knew that the Orioles had Matt Wieters and that it would be difficult to compete for a regular job. So while it was exciting to come back to his home team, he also recognized that it may have been a more difficult path to stay in the major leagues than it would have been with the [Chicago] Cubs. Having said that, I think that Steve, who has now been traded to the Seattle Mariners, did the best with his opportunity here. He could not have had a stronger spring last spring, and he made the Opening Day roster. Then, unfortunately, he was optioned out after the first game, and that is because he had options. Because he had options, he did not have a lot of leverage for negotiation, and it was easy for the Orioles to send him down. And from what I understand, the life of a Triple-A player and the life of a Major League player are significantly different, not just to mention the pay check.

JH: In your opinion, how has his playing days at MSJ influenced the way he holds himself in the game today?

MH: I would like to think that St. Joe had quite a bit to do with the kind of character and man that he is. Obviously most of that comes from his family, but I think being a part of this community and being a part of this program helped him compete at a high level. It also put him in position where he had to handle himself in public because we’re a high-profile program, and he was one of the best players on a high-profile program. I think that was valuable for him to be mature enough to handle the adjustment to professional baseball.

JH: Mount Saint Joe is the only high school that helps out at FanFest. What makes MSJ stand out above other schools?

MH: From a practical standpoint, we had the connection. From the point of view as to why we’ve maintained that position with the Orioles, it’s because of the way that we do what we say we are going to do. When we say we are going to volunteer, we have people there who pay attention to the thing they are supposed to pay attention to. Now, if you’re a player and you’re running a station that has kids hitting a wiffle ball with a wiffle ball bat on a tee, and you man that station for an hour, it can be easy for you to lose your focus or concern for the next person in line. But what I think our guys recognize is that for that kid, that’s his time. We give him the attention that he deserves as if it was one of our guys who was up next. I think that attention to detail, that recognition about the importance of what it is that we are doing, and that it is a reflection on the Baltimore Orioles is a reason why the Orioles continue to ask us back.

This year, the Orioles FanFest is Saturday, December 12.

 

 

Tommy John Surgery: A Student-Athlete Goes Under the Knife

Junior Nick Viennas throws a pitch. He will be unable to do so for the next year, as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery.
Junior Nick Viennas throws a pitch. He will be unable to do so for the next year, as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery.

We are facing an epidemic that has been a bane to our youth and sports stars: I am talking about Tommy John surgery. Most people who follow sports, specifically baseball, have probably heard of this surgery.

In 1974, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Tommy John permanently damaged his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his elbow, and his career was up in the air. Dr. Frank Jobe, who was the Dodgers team orthopedist at the time, came to John with the idea of a revolutionary surgery that could potentially keep his career alive. This surgery involves the grafting of a replacement tendon from another part of the body to the humerus and ulna bones in the elbow. Ultimately the surgery was a success, and Tommy John went on to play fourteen more seasons.

On October 30, I will be undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Back in 2012, I tore my UCL ligament pitching in a baseball tournament. I immediately knew that I had a significant injury after I threw the pitch. I went to an orthopedist and underwent an x-ray, and when the results of it came in, the doctor told me that my UCL could have ruptured. Because of my young age, my doctor told me I did not require surgery, but I could undergo a six week rehab treatment.

After the six weeks, I was able to resume throwing and my baseball career. Then this summer, while I was pitching during a tournament in Florida, I felt another sharp pain in my elbow. I knew that something was wrong, and I pulled myself out of the game.

When I returned home, I saw the same orthopedist I had seen in 2012. He thought that I had sprained my UCL and wanted me to get an MRI  on my elbow. Being the teenager I was, I thought nothing would come of it, so I passed on the MRI. I thought to myself that it would heal on its own and I’d be okay.

Well, was I wrong. During the first fall baseball game of the season, I pitched and felt a worse pain then I felt during the summer. I finally realized that this was serious and went to get that MRI.

One week later, I visited my doctor to receive the results of the MRI, and he told me that after I tore my UCL in 2012 the tendon never fully healed. To fill the space there, I had a major calcium build up that was preventing me from straightening out my elbow. I had the option to either undergo surgery if I wanted to keep playing baseball or just go on the rest of my life with this condition and say good-bye to baseball.

For anyone who knows, it is hard to say good-bye to something you love. For me, it was too hard to say good-bye to my first love, baseball, and end it this way. I will be updating you on the progress of the surgery and the rehab in a follow-up story next month.

Nick Viennas can be reached at @TheQuillNickV on Twitter.