The Gaithersburg Giants, one of the pioneers of the Maryland Collegiate Baseball League, moved to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League last month. It became the sixth team to join the prestigious summer college wood bat league since its inception in 2005.
“Obviously, this is a huge deal,” Giants and Gaithersburg High School coach Jeff Rabberman said. “It really is to get this opportunity to join this league. It’s something that has been a lot of hard work. To see that come to fruition is a great thing. We’re looking forward to competing every year and getting better and seeing what we can do to compete.”
Under Rabberman’s tenure with the Giants, a program that was started in 2006 through the behest of John Brady, who passed in 2009 from colon cancer, they have been one of the MCBL’s best squads, compiling an 87-43 record since 2009. Gaithersburg finished no lower than second place in the MCBL regular season standings during that time, including placing first at the conclusion of the 2011 regular season.
“As President of Gaithersburg Sports Association, I feel extremely proud of becoming a member of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League,” said Alfie Riley in a CRCBL press release. “Our acceptance into the league is the crowning achievement and the fruition of years of hard work and dedication started by the Giants founder, John Brady, in 2006.”
The Giants compiled a 21-10 regular season record last summer and reached the tournament final before falling, 4-3, to the Baltimore Chop.
“We are pleased with the direction our league has taken over the last seven years,” said interim CRCBL commissioner Alex Thompson in a press release on the league’s website. “[Former commissioner and the now deceased] Bob Douglas had a vision to grow this league and bring our unique brand of baseball to more communities across our region.
“The addition of the Giants certainly advances that vision. Gaithersburg is a baseball city and we are excited to begin play there in 2013.”
Rabberman, in preparation for the team’s inaugural Cal Ripken season, already has put together a squad he believes can compete with the powers that be in the league, including the Bethesda Big Train, the Rockville Express — the reigning regular season champions — the Baltimore Redbirds — the defending tournament champions — and Youse’s Orioles.
“We’ve brought kids from out of the area and we have host families,” Rabberman said. “We’re definitely upping the talent level because of the competition. The Big Train won the national championship two years ago. We’re looking at one of the best collegiate summer leagues and I don’t ever do anything to finish in second place.
“There will be some sort of adjustment for us. The roster we’ve recruited, I really, really like. I like our chances of being competitive right away. Its been a nice process to go through. It really came together nicely. I’m looking forward to getting on the field with them at the beginning of June and going out and playing 44 games.”
The Gaithersburg Giants still will field a team in the MCBL and it will be coached by Rabberman’s long-time assistant Gary Holzapfel. The Giants had two teams in the MCBL a year ago, the Giants Blue and the Giants Red, which was coached by Winston Churchill High coach Scott Blackwood and finished with a 16-15 record season record.
“The Giants have come a long way since 2006 when Mr. Brady started it,” Rabberman said. “To get to this point, in my opinion, is one of the biggest successes I’ve had in baseball rather it be playing or coaching. This is one of the best leagues in the country. To get the opportunity to represent Gaithersburg with local kids and kids from around the nation and to help them fulfill their dream of playing Major League Baseball, that’s what the Cal Ripken League’s all about.”
Since the inclusion of the Giants, the league has also added the Baltimore-based Presstman Cardinals to increase its total to 12 teams.