BALTIMORE — Rain was coming and the stars were busy packing their bags Sunday, June 2, when a coach asked Will Manship to stick around.
North Caroline High’s senior baseball standout acknowledged his coach, but was admittedly unsure exactly what he was supposed to be doing, as teammates, opponents, family and fans gathered their belongings inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards at the conclusion of the 38th Brooks Robinson High School All-Star baseball game.
“They announced the North (most valuable player) first so there was kind of a little bit of suspense building up,” said Manship, who along with St. Michaels’ Nick Newnam had helped the South to a 3-1 victory at the annual showcase featuring some of the state’s premier baseball talent.
While everyone was telling Manship he was going to get the South’s MVP award, he knew South River’s Kavi Caster — whose single in the bottom of the seventh scored Manship with what proved to be the winning run — was also a strong candidate.
Then came the announcement.
“He (Caster) had a hit and stole two bases, so I wasn’t real sure if it was going to be me or him,” Manship said. “But when they called my name I think a lot of my family and fans were a little bit more excited than I was. I was a little bit in shock. Especially when you look around and see yourself standing 5-(feet) 5 and everybody is standing at about 6-2.”
Evidently voters focused more on Manship’s play. Manship, who played shortstop and pitched for the Bulldogs this season, started at second base Sunday, shifted to third — where he made two plays — and ended his rotation at short, where he turned a double play. The Denton native delivered a strong performance at the plate as well, walking his first at-bat before stroking consecutive singles and swiping a pair of bases.
Manship may have swayed voters in the bottom of the seventh. With the game tied 1-1, he singled, stole second, advanced to third when Old Mill’s Nick Cinquanto grounded out to the right side, and scored the go-ahead run on Caster’s single. Caster eventually scored to make it 3-1 on a double by Broadneck’s Ryan Smolen.
“There was a bit of me that was nervous,” said Manship, who played all seven innings. “Playing with Nick is always fun. So having him there was kind of a breather for me, just the emotional side of it. But I had so much family support there.
“Felt pretty confident going up to the plate,” Manship added. “I was expecting to see good pitching. My biggest thing was hit the ball hard somewhere, run everything out. And in the field I’m normally pretty solid. So I wasn’t as nervous as some kids might have been.”
Manship said he worked out with his father, Vince Manship, a lot leading up to the game, and was joined by Newnam one night.
Still, Manship, who is headed to Salisbury University to play, admitted to being a little in awe playing in a big-league park.
“Playing on the Orioles field, playing in a new environment, it was a little bit nerve wracking,” Will Manship said. “It was an eye-opener to what the major-league baseball players feel every day, and what it would be like to feel that every day as a young man trying to grow up into a profound baseball player.”
Newnam, St. Michaels’ star first baseman/pitcher, offered a similar sentiment.
“It was a lot more than I thought it was going to be to be honest,” Newnam said. “I just didn’t really know how much of an honor it was going to be until like after the fact; realizing playing on that field with all those guys and stuff is something that you’re not going to do very much.”
Newnam led off the game by lining the first pitch he saw from James Springer of Bethesda-Chevy Chase into center field for a single.
“I knew I wanted to be aggressive,” Newnam said. “I didn’t want to get into a pitcher’s count, because all these pitchers are so good that if you get behind then they’re in the driver’s seat. I was looking for first-pitch fastball down the middle. I knew I was getting one because I was the leadoff guy.”
Newnam, who played first base, finished 1 for 4 with an RBI and two stolen bases, gave the South a 1-0 lead with a fielder’s choice in his second at-bat.
“I put a lot of work into being prepared,” said Newnam, who is headed to Harford Community College to play. “In high school this year our coaches really put into our heads focusing on the process rather than the results. I like to just focus on the process and the little things and then the results will take care of itself.
“At first when I got out there I wanted to try soak it in, take a look around, because you never know how many times you’re going to do that,” Newnam said. “But once the game kicks in and you start to really focus you kind of block everything out.”At last Thursday’s introductory press conference, Newnam, Manship and the rest of the all-star cast got the opportunity to meet Robinson, the Orioles’ Hall of Fame third baseman.
“That was really cool,” Newnam said. “It was a lot more than I expected. I didn’t know how laid back he was. But you never would guess that he was a Hall of Famer, one of the best of all time because he’s so even keeled.”
Manship noted Robinson’s wife has diagnosed him with a condition.
“He’s actually doing really good,” Manship said. “He told everybody his wife says he has the sitting disease. Whenever he sees something he can sit on he sits down.”
Colonel Richardson’s Jamison Covey was also selected but was unable to attend the game.