The summer league team of college baseball players is on top of the 12-team Cal Ripken League, ranked No. 6 nationally and in position to win its fifth regular season championship in the nine-year history of the league.
So how does one team, with new players each summer and a short 40-game regular season, sustain such success?
We spoke to team President Adam Dantus about how the team has become one of the most consistent college summer league temas in the country:
BethesdaNow.com: What’s the secret to the success of the team?
Dantus: Continuity. Coach Sal deserves all of the credit that the team is experiencing on the field year after year. He has been with us since the start and we just signed him to a 10-year contract extension. We have a loyal fan base that comes out and supports the team night after night which makes Povich Field a very tough atmosphere to play for an opposing team. It also helps to have such wonderful and committed ownership with BCC Baseball. Without the support of our community, none of this would be possible.
BethesdaNow.com: Do you guys pick which players you want? Or do the colleges set you up with players?
Dantus: At this point, Sal has the top college coaches across the country calling him year round asking him to take his players. Sal has built a winning culture in Bethesda and it’s being recognized by the top college programs across the nation. Not only does he know how to put together winning teams, he is also a master of developing players. If you ask any of our former players that have made it to the big leagues, they say they wouldn’t have been able to make it without Sal.
BethesdaNow.com: What about the reputation and level of play in the Ripken League? Could people one day think of it in the same category as the Cape Cod League or some of the other older leagues across the country?
Dantus: The caliber of talent in the Ripken League has certainly grown since its inception. Hunter Renfroe became the third Ripken League alum to be selected in the first round of the MLB Draft in the least three years. We’ve had players pass on offers to play in the Cape to return to Bethesda. As long as the owners stay committed towards putting together a winning product both on the field and in the community as well as investing and continuing to grow their fan following, I see no reason why we can’t be placed in the same category as the Cape.
The Big Train returns to Shirley Povich Field at Cabin John Regional Park (10600 Westlake Dr.) today with a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. against the D.C. Grays.
Flickr photo by Curveball Photography