(Bob Hough / Capital Gazette)
— Archbishop Spalding's Nick Vermillion isn't exactly easing into his first summer as a high school graduate.
Vermillion made a special trip back from the beach to attend Thursday's press conference for Sunday's Brooks Robinson High School All-Star Game. After a trip back to the beach, he'll return to Baltimore to play in the game on Sunday following the Orioles game with the Boston Red Sox.
His busy start to his summer won't end there.
Following Sunday's game, Vermillion will trade in his bat and glove for his football cleats and pads to get ready for the Big 33 Football Classic. Vermillion is not sure if he's the first player to be selected for both games. If he's not the first, he joins a select few who have played in both.
"We looked it up and couldn't find anyone else," said Vermillion, following Thursday's press conference at the Warehouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. "It's going to be pretty fun. I'm excited to just walk out there and take some swings and just be one of the guys."
Before he shifts his focus to football as a member of the Maryland team in the Big 33 coached by Arundel coach Chuck Markiewicz, Vermillion will join seven other players from Anne Arundel County schools and several others from the Baltimore area who will play in the game on Sunday. He joins Archbishop Spalding teammate Jordan Geber, Arundel's Matt Moon and Mack McKisson, Broadneck's Cullen McAuliffe and Luke Tuttle, Chesapeake's Dillon Oxyer and Severna Park's Matt Glady. Scott Huntley (Severna Park) is an alternate for the South team.
"This should be really cool," Vermillion said. "This has been a dream for all of us since we were two years old."
As he has most years he's able, Robinson, who recently turned 80, attended the press conference on Thursday. He welcomed the players at the beginning, had his picture taken with each player when they were introduced and posed for more pictures and signed autographs at the conclusion.
As he spoke to the players and parents on Thursday, Robinson stressed the importance of getting a college education.
"College baseball is so much better now," Robinson said. "The baseball they play now is so much better than what it was back then. I only went to college for one year. Getting that education is the best thing I can tell you do."
The South has won two straight in the series and holds an 18-14-2 lead. The game was conceived by former Arundel coach Bernie Walter and began in 1982 as the Crown High School All-Star Game and was played at Memorial Stadium. Robinson was a spokesperson for Crown Central Petroleum Company at the time and was the game's honorary chairman. When the game lost the sponsorship of Crown in 2004, Robinson sought out his friend, Joe Geier of Geier Financial Group, to sponsor the game and Robinson's name was added. An additional sponsor, Ollie's Bargain Outlet, has been added this year.
"It hasn't hit me yet. It's pretty unreal," said Oxyer, who helped Chesapeake reach the Class 3A state final for the second straight year. "The legend himself is standing over there. It's pretty amazing."
Annapolis Area Christian School's Chuck Gast is one of the six coaches between the two teams and joins Bel Air's John Swanson as the two coaches from the Baltimore area.
"It's an absolute honor. Coming from a small Christian school in Anne Arundel County and being asked to coach in this thing ... I don't have the words for it," Gast said. "This is not just about promoting baseball and athletics, it's also about promoting character and the kids."
Also selected to play in the game from the Baltimore area are Kieran Garner (River Hill), Max Goron (Reservoir), Garrett Matheny (Calvert Hall), Paul DiPino (McDonogh), Mark Lopez (Boys' Latin) and Drew Bossi (Dulaney).
Veteran sportscaster Keith Mills gave the players one last piece of advice as the press conference closed on Thursday.
"As you walk on that field on Sunday, take some time and look around and do not take that moment for granted," Mills said. "Savor the experience."