Local Athletes in the Pros
Jul 10, 2014 09:00AM ● Published by Jake Russell
Many of us take in sports on almost a daily basis. Major League Baseball is in the midst of another exciting summer and all 32 NFL teams are preparing for training camp, which begins in just a few weeks. Each of these sports, as well as others, boast local athletes who we watch and support. Take a look at some prominent athletes who proudly call Anne Arundel County and the Eastern Shore their home.
Most know Ben Tate as a running back for the Cleveland Browns. Those who have known him the longest remember him as a young child who moved from Woodbridge, Va. to grow up in Salisbury, Md.
On the field, Tate flourished as a running back at Stephen Decatur High School and at Snow Hill High School for his senior season, where he set state high school rushing records that were unfathomable. His 6,123 offensive yards set the Maryland state record for total yards in a career. This propelled him to play college ball at national powerhouse Auburn, where he racked up 3,321 yards on 678 carries for a 4.9 yard per carry average in his four years as a Tiger.
The Houston Texans were impressed enough with him to make him a second-round pick in 2010. He had high expectations, but a severe ankle injury in his first preseason game ended his rookie season. Tate bounced back in 2011, racking up 941 yards as Arian Foster’s backup in Houston’s first playoff season. In 40 games from 2011–13, Tate ran for 1,992 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Texans. Foster and Tate provided one of the most lethal running back tandems in the NFL before Tate signed with the Browns in March, where he now has a chance to start full time.
Born in Annapolis, Gavin Floyd spent his entire childhood in Severna Park idolizing Cal Ripken, Jr. and the Baltimore Orioles. As a young baseball player, he didn't think becoming a Major Leaguer was a realistic goal but pursued it anyways.
“I think the athletic organizations (Severna Park has) there, the Green Hornets, the Maryland Orioles, all the teams I was a part of, definitely helped me become a competitive baseball player,” Floyd says.
Floyd began to craft his talents on the mound while attending Mount St. Joseph High School. Having forgone college, he was selected fourth overall by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2001 Major League Baseball Draft.
He made his debut with the Phillies in 2004 and appeared in 24 games through 2006. After being traded to the Chicago White Sox (along with current Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez) in 2006, Floyd made a solid career for himself in the Windy City. As a member of the White Sox, Floyd played in 175 games and started 168 of them through the 2013 season.
This past December, Floyd signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the defending NL East Champion Atlanta Braves and is in the midst of his 11th MLB season.
Albert’s journey to Maryland began as an unmotivated teenager from Rochester, N.Y. Having failed his freshman year of high school twice, he moved to Glen Burnie to live with his brother, Ashley Sims, a former defensive lineman at the University of Maryland.
His brother helped him make up for lost time by working with him on his schoolwork and his work ethic. Both paid off, as he developed into a talented two-way athlete, starring in basketball and football at Glen Burnie High School and improved his grades enough to graduate on time.
The 6'7", 310-pound 16-year-old senior parlayed his talents into a scholarship to play left tackle for the University of Virginia, where he earned third-team freshman All-America honors and freshman All-ACC awards from The Sporting News, All-ACC honorable mention his sophomore season, and first-team All-ACC honors his senior season.
In 2008, the Kansas City Chiefs selected him 15th overall to become their bookend left tackle. Through his first six seasons as a member of the Chiefs, Albert played in 85 games and started 83. He has developed into one of the best left tackles in the game. In March, he signed a five-year, $46 million contract with the Miami Dolphins.
One of Teixeira’s fondest memories as a young athlete was playing baseball for the Severna Park Green Hornets at Kinder Park. Teixeira attended Benfield Elementary and Severna Park Middle School before heading to Mount St. Joseph High School in Baltimore.
Teixeira was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the ninth round of the 1998 MLB draft but decided to use his scholarship offer to attend Georgia Tech. After a successful collegiate career, he was selected fifth overall in the 2001 draft by the Texas Rangers, one spot after Floyd.
The Teixeira family lived across the street from the Floyds, so once Mark was selected, it was only natural that the families celebrated together at his house, embracing the enormity of the moment for them and the community.
Teixeira quickly became the Rangers’ top prospect and one of the hottest commodities in baseball after earning American League Rookie of the Year in 2003. After four great seasons in Texas, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves in the middle of the 2007 season. A year later, he was shipped to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
A free agent prior to the 2009 season, Teixeira mulled offers from a number of teams, including the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals. However, Teixeira inked an 8-year, $180 million contract with the New York Yankees and won the World Series in his first season in the Bronx.
Baines is undoubtedly the most popular native to come out of St. Michaels, having crafted an illustrious 22-year Major League Baseball playing career as a designated hitter and corner outfielder. Now in his 11th season on the bench, he is the Chicago White Sox assistant hitting coach.
As a youth baseball player, Baines caught the attention of then-White Sox owner and fellow St. Michaels resident Bill Veeck, who six years later selected Baines first overall in the 1977 MLB Draft.Baines was traded six times in his career, three of those moves involving the Baltimore Orioles, where he spent most of seven seasons spanning from 1993 to 2000.
Despite strong ties to Chicago, having played for the White Sox for 14 years and spending the last 11 coaching in the Windy City, he still resides in St. Michaels where he routinely puts forth his time and effort into charity appearances. Every year on January 9th, St. Michaels celebrates “Harold Baines Day.”
His alma mater, St. Michaels High School, named their baseball field “Harold Baines Field” in his honor. In 1989, Baines became the first White Sox player to have his number (3) retired. He became the seventh White Sox player to have a statue outside of U.S. Cellular Field in 2008 and was nominated into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 1999, at the age of 40, Baines was still producing. He smacked 25 home runs and 103 RBI that season. Baines finished his career with a .289 average, 384 home runs, and 1,628 RBI in 2,830 games and 11,092 plate appearances.