As the area’s top baseball players stepped onto the field at Busch Stadium for this year’s High School Baseball Showcase, plenty of boyhood dreams came true.
For Brett Graves, not only did a boyhood dream come true on Monday afternoon, it was also a taste of what could be an everyday occurrence for the recent Francis Howell graduate who was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals.
“It’s fun to think about playing at Busch someday,” Graves said. “Even if I wasn’t drafted by the Cardinals, I would still be really happy to be here, but the fact that I could be back here in a few years makes it that much more special. I’ve been to a million games since I was a little kid, and this is definitely a dream come true.”
Graves and the Missouri All-Stars defeated the Illinois All-Stars, 8-3, in front of a few hundred fans on a hot Monday afternoon.
For Missouri head coach John Mabry, it was a return back to the town where he played eight seasons of baseball for the Cardinals.
“These guys have been watching the Cardinals play their whole life, and they got to get out here on a bigger stage here at Busch Stadium and showcase their talents,” Missouri head coach John Mabry said. “Hopefully they had a lot of fun, and I thought they played a great game.”
When Mabry was asked by PNC Bank’s Rick Sims to coach this year’s game, he immediately jumped at the opportunity after participating in a similar all-star game during his senior year in high school.
“It was a pleasure to be involved in this game,” Mabry said. “I was involved in a game similar to this when I was a senior in Maryland called the Crown All-Star Game, and this is a great way to give back, and it’s a way I got propelled in my career.
“Hopefully, if one of these guys gets either looked at, signed or goes a little higher than they should have, this game will have served its purpose.”
Pacing the Missouri All-Stars was University City High School second baseman Jake Mavropoulos, who had a double and drove in three runs. But several players from the Missouri squad made an impact. CBC High School first baseman Mike Ehrhard had three hits. Francis Howell North High School catcher Mike Wilson had two hits, including a double and an RBI. Lafayette High School shortstop Ryan Mansfield had two walks and an RBI, and Vianney first baseman Ryan Barnes walked twice. Timberland's David Masters scored a run after walking.
Ehrhard also won the home run derby prior to the game.
Mabry sent out nine different pitchers in the lengthy affair. Among those who hurled scoreless frames were De Smet Jesuit High School’s Kyle Bouman, CBC’s David Schmidt, Winfield High School’s Dylan Terrell, Oakville High School’s Chad Gendron, Parkway West High School’s Carter Smith and Ehrhard.
The Illinois squad was coached by former Cardinals player Mike Matheny, who looked at today’s game as being an opportunity to reward area high school baseball players for their hard work and accomplishments over the past season.
“This whole day is about showcasing these kids and giving them an honor and an award of being one of the top kids in the area,” Matheny said. “That’s what this day is all about.
“It’s about rewarding them and rewarding their families and get them out on one of the greatest fields in the world and play against some of the best kids in the area.”
For Oakville’s Chad Gendron, Monday’s game was a unique opportunity to play with some of the St. Louis area’s top baseball talent. Gendron finished the 2011 regular season with a 7-2 record on the mound with a 1.42 ERA. At the plate he hit .370 with 23 runs batted in.
“It’s an all-star game, so all of these guys can hit,” Gendron said. “We had the pitching staff to go along with our hitting, and these guys know how to play baseball the right way, and that’s what we were looking for today.”
Graves also entered the game with some impressive stats as he batted .441 with six home runs and 35 RBIs. On the mound, he racked up a record of 9-1 with a 1.95 ERA as the Vikings won the Missouri Class 4 state championship.
“Both teams were really talented,” Graves said. “This Missouri team had a lot of good ballplayers and as a team, we already knew each other, and it was good to play with these guys. Some of them I haven’t played with since I was nine or 10 years old. It was a really good time.”
(Statistics from STLToday.com were used in this story.)