Cal Ripken, Jr.
It's a name that is synonymous with baseball. Especially in the state of Maryland, where Ripken grew up and played Major League Baseball for 21 years.
Now, a group of 11 year-old little leaguers from Germantown will forever have their names linked to the Baltimore Oriole great, after winning a weekend tournament named after the Hall-of-Famer this past weekend at the Ripken Spring Training Tournament in Aberdeen, Md.
The Germantown Hawks, one of 12 teams participating in the 11 and under division, went 5-0 over the two-day tournament, including a 13-7 win over the Pro Skills Baseball Academy team in the championship game on Sunday and a 10-1 win over the Savage Spirit in the tournament's semi-final game earlier in the day. The tournament featured teams from all over the state as well as Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The Hawks' Chris Marshall was named the championship game's Most Valuable Player.
"Obviously you feel great about it," Hawks coach Lorin Greber said. "Personally I felt very satisfied to have our new kids as well as their parents experience a tournament and a facility like Ripken's. Being able to experience that is very, very special."
Greber called the facilities at Aberdeen the nicest he has seen in his coaching career and said that his team is fortunate to live close enough to compete in tournaments there annually. The main field at Aberdeen, as Greber described it, is a "mini replica of [Oriole Park at] Camden Yards" complete with a replica warehouse in right field.
"It's really neat for the kids to be able to play on a field like that," Greber said. "And for the parents to be able to sit and watch their kids in that kind of environment. I felt very happy for our new kids and our parents who were able to experience that for the first time."
The Hawks won their first tournament game on Saturday over the Oxford Outlaws, 13-0, followed by a 15-1 victory over the CP Stars and a 13-0 win over the Lake Shore Graysox before their semi-final game against Savage. In total, the Hawks outscored their five opponents, 54-9.
"The kids just played outstanding baseball," said Greber, whose team began practicing together in January and held workouts with Montgomery College Germantown's team. "The kids have worked really, really hard and it was gratifying to see it pay off and pay off in a big way."
The Hawks, who during the regular season compete in the PeeWee division of the Montgomery County Baseball Association (MCBA) along with teams such as the Damascus Cougars and the Rockville Rockets, generally participate in four of these types of tournaments per year, some of which occur before and after the MCBA season, according to Greber.
The MCBA season kicks off on April 4 and the next tournament the Hawks will be playing in will be the Olney "Mutiny in the Park " tournament on April 16-17, which will feature 26 teams from the 5-state area, including other teams from MCBA.
On Memorial Day Weekend, the Hawks will participate in the Maryland State Championships in Pasadena, Md., and later this summer, will be competing in a tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.