Conner White, an 11-year-old from Urbana, extended his miniature Maryland football helmet across the table Thursday evening, and the recipient seemed confused.
“This is a football helmet,” Mark Turgeon, the Terrapins’ men’s basketball coach was obliged to point out.
But White didn’t seem to care. So, Turgeon took his black sharpie and affixed his autograph to the football helmet, and White went on his way as a happy young Terps fan.
“That was awesome,” he said.
This scenario — and many like it — unfolded during the Keys’ game against the Salem Red Sox at Nymeo Field, where Turgeon joined Maryland football coach Randy Edsall, wrestling coach Kerry McCoy and volleyball coach Steve Aird as part of the university’s Maryland Pride Tour.
Frederick happened to be the first stop on the tour, with future dates in Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington D.C. on the schedule.
Turgeon and Edsall, each donning Keys jerseys with their names on the back, both threw out a ceremonial first pitch and then joined the other coaches in greeting fans and signing autographs for more than an hour on the stadium’s concourse.
“There are more than 6,000 (Maryland) alums in the Frederick area,” said Zack Bolno, a senior associate athletic director in media relations for Maryland. “This is an unbelievable opportunity to come and meet our fans in a casual setting. The Keys have been great to us.”
Edsall’s appearance occurred on the same day that former Oklahoma State quarterback Daxx Garman announced he will spend his final year of eligibility at Maryland.
“We are excited that Daxx has decided to join the program,” Edsall said of Garman, who made nine starts and passed for 2,041 yards and 12 touchdowns at Oklahoma State last season.
“You know, he’s an experienced guy who started in the Big 12. He’ll bring more competition and now compete for the starting job. So, we’re looking forward to it.”
Speaking on the stadium concourse prior to his first pitch, Edsall also pointed to the recruiting inroads Maryland has made in Frederick County.
“We have (Linganore offensive lineman) EJ Donahue and (Middletown offensive lineman) Will McClain coming into the program, along with (junior running back and Linganore graduate) Joe Riddle,” Edsall said. “I have a lot of admiration and respect for this area when it comes to football.”
Turgeon has enjoyed a fine offseason himself, landing five-star recruit Diamond Stone and Duke transfer Rasheed Sulaimon to a team that went 28-7 (15-4 in its first season of Big 10 play) and reached the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.
“We have a lot of nice pieces,” Turgeon said prior to the Keys game. “You just hope they fit.”
Unlike Edsall, Turgeon had never thrown a first pitch before until Thursday night.
A few minutes prior to the start of the Keys game, both coaches took turns walking out to the end of the red carpet — several feet in front of the pitcher’s mound — and fired what looked to be strikes, fulfilling their stated goals of keeping the ball out of the dirt.
“I’ve played enough baseball,” Edsall said. “But the problem is you get out there and there are people (in the stands). It’s like getting on that first tee (on the golf course) with a crowd around you.”