- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
With their seventh season about to get underway, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have gone from novelty item to a community pastime.
Since the club’s first pitch April 25, 2008, Blue Crabs baseball has become a tradition in these parts, particularly when this time of the year comes around.
The Blue Crabs are spring chickens no more, as they have constructed quite a bit of history during the past six years.
Two beloved managers, Butch Hobson and then protégé Patrick Osborn, have come and gone, each lasting three seasons in their skipper roles. A multitude of players have made themselves at home in Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium in Blue Crabs attire the past six years. Even household names of Major League Baseball acclaim have played for and against the Blue Crabs.
Throughout it all, the franchise has been an overall success on the field, winning almost 53 percent of their 820 regular season games (434-386), currently owning an Atlantic League record of five straight playoff berths since 2009.
“Winning always fosters good team chemistry,” Blue Crabs outfielder Cyle Hankerd said, a year removed from being the league’s best player before getting signed out of Southern Maryland last July by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization and assigned to their Double-A affiliate Arkansas Travelers. “When it’s fun to come to the field every day, everybody plays better. There is a good core group of guys coming back that were on the team last year and also a lot of good additions. I’m excited to get to know everybody a little more and start playing games together.”
The Blue Crabs have entered each season hopeful of pocketing their first league championship, and the approaching campaign is no different.
But there has been a different feel about 2014 long before opening night, which is tonight, April 24, versus Bridgeport at Regency Furniture Stadium. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
Tickets are available. Go to www.somdbluecrabs.com or call 301-638-9788.
This season will feature a new manager and a new divisional home for the Blue Crabs.
Swapping places with Somerset in November, the Blue Crabs departed the Liberty Division, where they had resided since their inception, to join the Freedom Division. The move was done for geographic reasons and to prepare the league for expansion.
One month later, the news of Osborn’s unexpected resignation rocked Crustacean Nation as he took a managerial job in the New York Yankees organization to take a major step closer to his dream of being a Major League skipper.
That set the stage for Lance Burkhart to become the Blue Crabs new manager in January.
“It’s going to be a learning process of course,” the former hitting coach of Freedom Division rival Lancaster said about his new job of leading the Blue Crabs as a first-time manager. “You’re trying to get to know your players and what they can do. I’m just trying to evaluate the guys and put them in the best situation they can be in.
“Of course, I’m excited,” he said.
Blue Crabs second-year pitching coach Joe Gannon, popular with the fan base in being an effective knuckleballer in Southern Maryland, likes this year’s version of the team.
“We’ve got a very good team,” Gannon said. “We’ve got good arms. We’ve got veteran guys. We’ve got some young life, and Burky [Burkhart] is going to do a great job. He’s been around the game long enough, and he knows how to put guys in good positions.”
So, will this be a lucky season No. 7 for the Blue Crabs?
We’re about to find out.