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Tipping his hat

Luck was part of the equation for Boonsboro coach

Luck was part of the equation for Boonsboro coach

July 02, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Boonsboro High School baseball coach Fred Kreiger knew his team had the synergy and his players the skills they needed to win the state's Class 1A championship in May.

But he didn't underestimate the importance of luck.

So Kreiger took off his Warriors cap while penning the starting lineup before the game with Catoctin and filled its lining with the names of those who'd had the greatest influence on his baseball career.

Kreiger's father. Cal Ripken Sr. Fellow coaches. And the high school coaches who guided Kreiger's own pitching journey to the big leagues more than 30 years ago.

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"All these people helped me get to this point and I wanted to take them with me," he said.

Kreiger cried when the Warriors won the championship game 11-3.

"I couldn't believe it," Kreiger said. "I always know the season will end in tears. This is the first time they've been tears of joy."

Boonsboro officials on Wednesday will honor Kreiger and his players for their second state title - the first was in 1985 - during the town's Independence Day celebration at Shafer Park. Team members will sell $10 T-shirts at the event to raise money for championship rings.

The win crowned a 28-year coaching career filled with high points, said Kreiger, 48, of Hagerstown.

The Chicago Cubs drafted him as a pitcher in 1972 at the end of his senior year at Allegany High School in Cumberland, Md., but a players' strike later that year cut his big league stint short, Kreiger said.

Ineligible to play sports at Frostburg State University because he'd signed a professional contract, Kreiger started coaching college baseball at age 20 while pursuing a teaching degree.

After making the gut-wrenching decision to leave his hometown school district in the early 1980s because his wife couldn't secure a teaching position there, Kreiger said, he took a job teaching government and history at South Hagerstown High School.

Kreiger moved to Boonsboro High School in 1985 to teach and serve as head baseball coach. He returned to South High in 1990 but has continued commuting to Boonsboro to coach during baseball season.

Coach Kreiger strives to "teach the love of the game and how to play it," he said.

He stresses the fundamentals of a difficult sport, he said, urging his players to be ready for every play and work to improve their skills even during the lengthy amount of downtime in each game.

He also encourages his athletes to build strong relationships with each other, Kreiger said.

"You might not remember how many games you won or lost, but you'll remember how you felt about each other," he said.

Kreiger boasts a record of 220 wins, 138 losses and 3 ties during his 17 years as a head coach at Boonsboro and Allegany high schools.

He is a pitching coach for the state all-star team and an associate scout for the Baltimore Orioles. He worked as a pitching instructor at the Cal Ripken Sr. summer baseball school at Mount St. Mary's College in Emmittsburg, Md., for 10 years before helping to launch Diamond's Baseball Camp in Washington County in the early 1990s, he said.

"I've had experiences I think my players would like to have," Kreiger said. "I think I can try to steer them towards some good avenues."

He tries not to put too much pressure on players who must already contend with the "mental grind" of the sport and ever-increasing academic demands, Kreiger said.

Time has also mellowed his coaching style without eroding his passion for the sport, he said.

"I probably clap my hands 1,000 times during a game," Kreiger said.

He juggles his full-time teaching job and coaching duties with familial responsibilities. Kreiger's son, 14, and daughter, 11, are both active in several sports - including baseball, he said.

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