Written by Doug Fernandes on February 16, 2014 | Herald-Tribune
Nothing like BP to bring alumni back
SARASOTA, Fla. – The Sailors swinging away in the batting cage didn’t need helmets. But any worms in the infield sure did. This isn’t to suggest that no former Sarasota High player satisfactorily returned to his youth with a smoke-trailing line drive or two Saturday at Ronald K. Drews Field. Just that when it comes to hitting a baseball, timing is everything, and for many of the alums who took up Sailor head coach Clyde Metcalf on his offer to combine hacks with a few yucks, their time had passed. But what a time they had.
“Today is important enough that work stops, life stops, you get in the car and get here,’’ said ex-Sailor star Ray Suplee, who drove from Atlanta to participate in Sarasota’s alumni batting practice. It took place before the Sailors’ game against Manatee High and promises to be a yearly event. A couple of Facebook accounts, a handful of phone calls and texts, and many of the Sailors who prematurely put gray hairs in Metcalf’s scalp had returned, older, but in some cases, no more mature. “In many ways, these guys never grow up,’’ Metcalf said. “They’re the same guys. That’s what makes today great. My biggest thing is that it gives them an opportunity to re-bond.’’
Once the word was out, Metcalf had no clue how many would participate, 20 or 120. A sign-in sheet, with the name and class of seemingly every Sailor who ever played at Sarasota, eventually was signed by about 45.
The 43-year-old Suplee, a financial adviser for Raymond James in Atlanta, showed, as did Ron Scott, who works for a sports academy in New Jersey, teaching kids how to pitch. With his girlfriend, the 42-year-old drove down, right through the Atlanta area and Winter Storm Pax.
“That ride was hairy,’’ Scott said. “She couldn’t believe we were driving down.’’
Suplee and Scott were joined by Roger Miller, Brandon Marsters, Jimmy McDonald, Jason Schmidt, Evan Stobbs, Eric Erickson, Lee Bonnett, Joe Raridon, Ty Pulsifer, Nick DeVirgilis, Anthony Turco, Mike Metcalf, and many more.
Sixty-six-year-old Wayne Garrett, Class of 1965, made an appearance. Just not in the cage. “I threw out the first pitch at Miss Sarasota Softball this morning,’’ he said, “and that’s all the exercise I’m getting today.’’
Atlanta Brave Joey Terdoslavich, who reports to camp on Monday, wasn’t feeling well and didn’t hit. That’s probably just as well, for a line drive off his bat might have ripped off the glove of a current Sailor shagging balls in the outfield. Glove, and a couple of fingers.
It’s easy to forget just how good several of these Sailors were. Suplee hit .591 in 1989, the year the Sailors were state and national champions. Scott pitched a no-hitter in the title-clinching game against Sandalwood. Erickson posted a 0.30 ERA in 2005, lowest in team history.
But on Saturday, two other Sailors claimed the unofficial title for most impressive BP. Forty-three-year-old Dave Ferreira, who hit .439 in ’89, lashed several line drives and current Toronto Blue Jay farmhand Sean Hurley went deep over the right-field fence.
“I love being out here with a great bunch of people,’’ he said. “It’s like a big family.’’
Yeah, a family of brothers who stick gum in each other’s hair.
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