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Calvert Hall Alumni Trip To Orioles Spring Training A Big Hit

February 15, 2016
In a few weeks, a group of Cardinals will be migrating to spring training. These aren't your garden-variety major league players from St. Louis. This unique species shares a common bond with Calvert Hall College High School and a fondness for the Baltimore Orioles. They will descend on Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., to continue an exciting tradition that started five years ago. 

Issue 218: Calvert Hall alumni in Sarasota
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Doug Heidrick
"Florida is a popular destination for our alumni gatherings," said Doug Heidrick, a 1989 Calvert Hall graduate who organizes the event and works as an advancement associate in alumni giving for the school. "In 2011, we started going to Orioles spring training. For that first event, we probably had 15-20 attendees, and we sat in the bleachers. We've progressed to having over 60 attendees and have booked one of the stadium's suites for the last several years."

For Heidrick, these trips are about reconnecting with alumni and their families to talk about what's happening at "The Hall." 

"We'll talk about the football team if we've won the Turkey Bowl, the new commons area and the robotics team," Heidrick said. "We relive memories, and it's a special time for the alumni. Whether you graduated in 1959 or 1989, it's a unique homecoming." 

Founded in 1845 and the oldest Christian brothers school in the nation, Calvert Hall draws a diverse crowd to the event in Sarasota. Baltimore sportswriters Dan Connolly (Class of 1989) and Jim Henneman (Class of 1953) often join the festivities and occasionally help with logistics.  

Heidrick said the age range of the group is 35-80, with several alums having attended the "Old Hall" when it was located at Cathedral and Mulberry streets before moving to Towson, Md., in 1960.

Some alumni will be on field. Former Cardinals turned Orioles, Alex Murphy and Tim Sexton will participate as farmhands. Patrick Blair is in the Tampa Bay farm system, and Joe Benge is a minor league trainer. 

Calvert Hall has an outstanding baseball team, having won seven Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championships since 2005. The team has appeared in 10 of the last 12 finals and has carried on a great baseball tradition for decades. Former baseball coach Joe "Snooky" Binder, the legendary Cardinals equivalent of Earl Weaver, will also make an appearance.

"I like going because it gives me an opportunity to meet up with some old classmates, some former students and some loyal and enthusiastic members of the current school administration," said Norm Dreisch, a 1958 graduate and former Calvert Hall teacher. "It has also given me an opportunity to meet up with my favorite old-time sportswriter and Orioles' human knowledge base, Jim Henneman."

A teenager when the St. Louis Browns came to Baltimore in 1954, Dreisch has been following the Orioles since day one and has his thoughts about the coming season.

"The O's have some repairs to make," he said. "We pray for no injuries, some big help in the outfield and a resurgence of endurance in the pitching rotation. It's a shame we lost [pitcher Wei-Yin] Chen and a miracle that Chris Davis and Matt Wieters are back. There is little like being here in warm, sunny Florida with a fresh start in the standings."  

Most of the attendees live in Florida like Dreisch, who resides in Naples, but several alumni will travel from Baltimore and beyond for the game March 16 against the Pirates. Dreisch's son, Mike (Class of 1983), will make the trip from Holland. The price includes a ticket, access to food and refreshments in the suite and a commemorative shirt. There is a postgame reception at one of the local restaurants. 

"Last year and this year, we've expanded the trip to visit alums at The Villages retirement community, Tampa, St. Pete Beach and Naples," Heidrick said. "Joining me again on the trip will be our president, Brother John Kane, FSC and our director of advancement, Joe Baker '76."

For at least one Cardinal, the event has helped forge a new friendship outside the classroom. 

"I have looked forward to seeing my old sophomore geometry teacher, Norm Dreisch, at these functions," Phil Tuccy (Class of 1964) said. "I think he's been at almost everyone of these last for five years. I hope he has finally forgiven me for being such a lousy geometry student.  Now we are just friends."

Issue 218: February 2016