When a young man decides to play baseball for legendary head coach Bob Babb at Division 3 power Johns Hopkins University, he knows he must be to committed in the classroom and on the field.
There’s another essential part of the Hopkins Baseball equation, though, one that Babb stresses. One that can’t be ignored by any Blue Jay.
You must be committed to giving back to the community. That’s a passion of Babb’s. And it quickly better become a passion of yours, too.
“It’s always really fun listening to him,” sophomore outfielder Brad Parsons said about Babb’s fervor for community service. “He’s been doing it for so long that it kind of becomes natural, and it’s already becoming natural to me.”
Parsons had a head start.
At Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, Illinois, Parsons founded a Stand Up To Cancer chapter, in which he oversaw volunteer events and coordinated fundraising.
Upon his arrival in Baltimore, Parsons (pictured above) sought volunteer opportunities and leadership roles; he found both at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where he volunteers in the adult emergency department.
Founding a non-profit
As a freshman, Parsons partnered with a former teammate, Tommy Mee, to co-found a non-profit called the WeGo Foundation. Sponsored by Strong City Baltimore, WeGo uses self-presence robots to allow in-patient children to virtually visit sites throughout Baltimore.
“Each child is given complete control over the robot,” Parsons said. “Our team pairs each child with a tour guide to help personalize each tour. As the head volunteer coordinator, I kind of lead the volunteer recruiting and training as well as helping to coordinate programming with the hospital.”
A lot of collegiate sports teams have concerted efforts to support their communities. But Hopkins Baseball, under Babb, seems to take it to the next level.
Whether it’s running an annual toy drive or cleaning Wyman Park twice each year, community service is a team effort that each player embraces.
“The entire team gets behind it,” Parsons said. “Volunteering is something that we’ve always done, and we always have a really great time doing it.”
Casseroles and sandwiches
Babb and his wife Gilly lay the foundation for the Blue Jays’ charitable ways at their Sunday dinners in the fall.
“Every Sunday night my wife and I have six players come over for dinner,” Babb said. “A few of them work with her and make casseroles and the rest work with me to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which my wife takes down to Our Daily Bread the next morning.”
Community involvement isn’t lost on the Babbs. With over 1,000 career wins, Babb remains grateful to the community that’s supported him for more than 30 years.
“My wife and I are huge believers in our players giving back,” Babb said. “Most of them come from pretty well-to-do families and have been pretty fortunate in life. In our first meeting, I make it plain as day that if they’re going to be a part of our program, they’re going to give back, and they’re going to do it through a variety of community service projects that we conduct every year.”
Johns Hopkins’ charitable efforts extend beyond U.S. borders. Over the summer, freshman second basemen Matthew Ritchie traveled to the Dominican Republic as a part of the Lindos Sueños program. Lindos Sueños – which translates to “Beautiful Dreams” – is a Boston Red Sox program that sends 20 teens to a community in-need. The teens spend their mornings doing volunteer work and their afternoons playing baseball at the organization’s Dominican Academy.
Collecting baseball gear
Along with building houses in the village of El Mamón, Ritchie combined his love for community service and baseball to create his own charity endeavor, Bat2Basics.
“I collected over 500 pieces of baseball gear – bats, gloves, jerseys, cleats, pants, everything,” Ritchie said. “While we were in El Mamón, we had a whole giveaway where we gave all the equipment to the children and the local teens and the families in the town.”
Although being at school makes it harder for Ritchie to organize Bat2Basics, he remains committed to collecting gear to donate.
“It doesn’t have to be in the same place,” Ritchie said. “It could be somewhere locally in Baltimore or Virginia – where I’m from – but I’m always looking for another opportunity to do it again.”
Not only does the Blue Jays’ volunteer work benefit the community, it also plays a big role in the reigning Centennial Conference champions on-field success. Parsons and Ritchie agree that serving others undoubtedly helps unify the team.
“(Coach Babb) always gives us a goal, and we have to work together to achieve it – whatever it may be,” Parsons said. “We always try to find the fun in it, and I think that really brings us closer as a team.”
“We all put 100 percent effort into community service,” Ritchie said. “That helps build a type of character that isn’t found if you’re only practicing. Creating something and providing a service to someone else – together – is probably one of the best team-building experiences someone can do. That helps us get closer as a team and builds a camaraderie that is unlike what a lot of other teams are doing.”
BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Top Performers of the Week
Noah Song, RHP, U.S. Naval Academy
Song allowed only one hit in a 6-0, complete-game shutout over Lafayette College. He was selected as a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Patriot League Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season. Song recorded 15 strikeouts – one short of his career high. Song has three, double-digit strikeout performances to go along with his six wins this season. He finished the Lafayette game with a line of seven innings, one hit, no runs, one walk and 15 strikeouts in 101 pitches.
Michael Adams, RHP, Towson University
Adams spent his Easter Sunday baffling Hofstra University hitters. He allowed only three hits and tied his career high with 10 strikeouts in the 1-0 victory. Adams’ dominant performance marks his second-straight game with 10 strikeouts. Following what was the first complete-game shutout of his career, Adams was named the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Pitcher of the Week.
Hunter Parsons, RHP, University of Maryland
Junior/Fruitland, Md./Parkside High School
Following a complete game shutout against Stetson University, Parsons earned multiple weekly awards. The two-hit, nine-strikeout performance netted him Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week and Perfect Game/Rawlings National Pitcher of the Week honors. Parsons retired the first 11 batters he faced en route to his third win of the season. In his last four starts, Parsons has a 0.84 ERA over 32 innings pitched and has struck out 23 batters while walking three. Opponents are batting .188 against him over that stretch.
Navy (23-8) beat Delaware State University 7-4 on Wednesday to hand head coach Paul Kostacopoulos his 900th career victory. He becomes the 19th active Division 1 head coach to reach that milestone. He’s earned 396 of those wins at Navy, 220 at Providence College and 284 at the University of Maine in a career that spans 29 seasons. … Towson (6-19 overall, 3-3 conference) secured its first series win of the year against Hofstra University. The Tigers were aided in large part by the bat of junior captain Richie Palacios. Trailing by two in the ninth inning, Towson loaded the bases for Palacios. After falling behind in the count 0-2, the former CAA Rookie of the Year crushed a slider over the right-field fence for a walkoff grand slam. Palacios leads Towson with five home runs this season. … Navy capped off a 4-0 week that included a Patriot League series sweep of Lafayette. For his strong play at the plate, senior center fielder Logan Knowles was awarded Patriot League Player of the Week. Knowles finished the week batting .529 with 10 runs scored, nine hits, six RBIs, two doubles, three walks and four stolen bases. … Coppin State (8-14-1 overall, 7-2 conference) sits atop the standings in the MEAC North. Freshman shortstop Derek Lohr has been lighting up the stat sheet for the Eagles. Lohr started the week with a four-hit performance against Delaware State before going 7-for-14 (.500) in a series win at Norfolk State University. In the Sunday doubleheader against the Spartans, Lohr had a pair of three-hit games and drove in three runs in the opener. Midway through the season, Lohr currently leads the MEAC with a .400 batting average while ranking fifth in on-base percentage (.446) and ninth in slugging percentage (.440). Lohr also leads Coppin in hits while sitting 26th nationally in batting average — which is second among first-year players.
Matchup to watch
After winning 18 of 19 games to start the year, Hood College (18-4 overall, 5-3 conference) has dropped three straight conference games. The Blazers will look to get back on track with a three-game series starting Friday against conference foe Albright College. With the regular season coming to a close at the end of April, every conference game matters. The Blazers are currently in third in the MAC Commonwealth as they look to make the postseason for the first time in school history.