Red Devil baseball has a new coach
DISTRICT 56 ANNOUNCEMENT: Clinton High School Athletics is proud to announce that Tom Fortman will take over as head baseball coach for the Red Devils starting the 2017-2018 school year.
Coach Fortman has been in Baltimore, Maryland, coaching at Digital Harbor High School and teaching math. The announcement says, “He brings to CHS a wealth of baseball knowledge, proven success, and impeccable teaching credentials. Coach Fortman landed two Baltimore City Championships and most recently accumulated a 32-5 record as Varsity Head Coach at Digital Harbor High School.
“We look forward to having Coach Fortman on staff and he and his family in our community and school.”
Fortman takes over from Sean McCarthy, who is a CHS assistant principal. Red Devil baseball and softball this past spring played their first season at a new, on-campus sports complex. The Sponge baseball and the softball fields adjacent to Wilder Stadium remain in use for middle school and tournament play.
WBAL news radio 1090, May 11, 2015
Less than two weeks after the city burned, a different Baltimore was on display Saturday afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
“We had a couple of really bad days,” said Tom Fortman, “but the way the city’s come together has been great. I know it’s been said a lot in tweets and commercials but ‘this’ is the Baltimore I know.”
Tom Fortman is the varsity baseball coach at Digital Harbor High School in South Baltimore. On Saturday May 9th, the Rams beat the Academy of College and Career Exploration, 16-7, for the Baltimore City baseball championship.
It was Digital’s second championship in three years, though this one was a little different, maybe even a little more special, in wake of the riots two weeks ago that left almost everyone in the area numb with shock.
“I am a lifelong Baltimorean,” said Fortman, who grew up on Fort Ave. in South Baltimore, not far from the Digital campus on Key Highway near the Inner Harbor. “We have good kids here. So does ACCE. I teach math at the school and the day after the riots we put the books down and just talked about what happened. The kids were emotional, very concerned. As educators you have to help them work through it."
“We only missed one day of school. In fact, two days later we played a game against Douglas. And now to be able to come out here to the best ballpark in America, where the Orioles play, is really a big deal.”
“It’s really good for the kids and myself to take our minds off things and concentrate on baseball,” said ACCE head coach Todd Brenning. It’s the game we love to play, the game we love to coach. It’s been a great distraction for all of us.”
This was the second straight appearance in the championship game for ACCE and the fifth final overall played at Camden Yards, which also included a visit from Bob Wade, the legendary former Dunbar coach and now Director of Athletics in the city, who threw out the first ball.
“To see these kids playing on the best ballpark in America is awesome,” said Brandon Scott. “The Orioles are very gracious to do this for the fifth year in a row, working with us to make this happen. The kids will never forget this. They’ll tell their kids and grandkids that ‘I played at Oriole Park at Camden Yards’ and how many kids can say that.”
Brandon Scott once ran track for legendary coach Freddie Hendricks at Mervo, graduated from St. Mary’s College in southern Maryland in 2006 and is now, at age 31, the youngest member of the Baltimore City Council.
He was extremely active and vocal in restoring order to the city two weeks ago and when the day began on Saturday he was carrying the championship cup into Camden Yards that would be presented to the winner of the game a few hours later.
He wore a smile the size of the Inner Harbor.
“It’s great to be here,” Scott said. “This is part of the healing process.”
Like both Fortman and Henning Scott was stunned as to what happened in the city two weeks ago, yet gushing with pride as both Digital Harbor and ACCE took the field in the 5th city championship game.
“For everything that’s been happening in the city the last two weeks,” Scott said. “This is the Baltimore I know. There are great things going on here. People that care. They care about business. They care about the community. They care about the future of our city.”
Digital Harbor is the old Southern High School, home to the great Al Kaline, the Baltimore Hall of Famer who grew up in nearby Westport. Forty and fifty years ago the Southern baseball program was second to none in the city, producing conference championship teams and such tremendous players in the area like future Oriole Barry Shetrone, former Baltimore Sun Athlete-of-the-Year Donnie Russell, Weldon Swift, George Branham , Eddie Fisher, Joe Thomas, Bobby Jacobson and Bubba Fisher.
ACCE is housed in the former Robert Poole Middle School in Hamden and is coached by a former member of the St. Bonaventure collegiate baseball program. Todd Henning grew up outside Rochester and came to Baltimore to teach and coach five years ago.
“We were here last year,” said Henning, whose team lost to Poly in last year’s finals. “The guys who played in that game were used to it a little bit but the young guys on the team for the first time were star struck. Eyes wide open saying ‘oh my God, I can’t believe I’m here.’”
Digital won the game behind the outstanding pitching of junior Kevin Villanueva, who this time last year was not a student at Digital Harbor, but wasn’t even living in the United States.
“Ten months ago,” said Fortman, “he was living in Mexico. We didn’t even know he was in the building. He knew about six words of English and three of them were ‘I love baseball.’ My three words were ‘I love you.’
Villanueva struck out 11 batters to pitch Digital to the win, which avenged a loss to ACCE last Monday. Prior to the game Fortman led Villanueva to the pitcher’s mound so the 16 year-old junior would not be totally intimated when the game began.
“He looked at me and his jaw dropped,” said Fortman. “He said he had never set foot on a pitcher’s mound like that.”
Eric Exum and Chris Day paced the offensive attack for Digital, which won their 7th city championship in the last eight years, while Devin Biggers led ACCE’s 12-hit attack, though it was pretty obvious the big winners Saturday were everyone involved in Saturday’s championship game and a city that needs all the good news it can get,
“This was about young people out here doing great things,” said Brandon Scott. “The history of Digital Harbor doing great things and what the baseball team at ACCE has done the last couple of years is really impressive. It was a great day for the city.”