Spry’s records were the Shepherd standards . . . before Minnich
Mike Spry was the only Shepherd baseball player Coach Wayne Riser ever had from across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The recruiting effort was justified when Spry set on-field standards that became the records other players stood in awe of at times.
Spry came from Kent County and eventually became the hitter his coach talked about most. Mention Shepherd baseball to Riser and off he goes talking about Spry and how he could hit.
Riser appreciated Spry’s toughness, baseball aptitude and most of all, his hitting prowess.
Riser recruited far and wide at times, especially when accepting transfers, but he only rarely went over into the counties, cities or any Eastern Shore high schools.
Spry was a once-in-a-coaching lifetime player for Riser — in more ways than one.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Spry could play more than one position. But it certainly wasn’t as a defensive player that he became so well known at Shepherd.
Spry was a hitter with a quick-wristed swing that often sent baseballs into the shaded expanse of trees beyond the outfield fence at venerable Fairfax Field.
He was a starter in all four of his seasons with the Rams, who during his career that went from 2000 through 2003, batted third or fourth in Riser’s carefully prepared batting order. Shepherd was a member of the WVIAC during Spry’s free-swinging tenure.
In two of the seasons Spry played, Shepherd was the WVIAC’s Northern Division winner and in 2002 the Rams went to the North Atlantic Regional and finished runner-up to Kutztown.
That 2002 team had a final record of 37-12-1, the best mark in Spry’s four seasons. Shepherd’s overall record in Spry’s time was 106-71-2.
When he was finished at Shepherd, Spry held nine offensive category records.
He was a two-time All-WVIAC selection and a two-time All-North Atlantic Region player.
After batting .450 as a senior, Spry was selected as the North Atlantic Region player of the year. He was also honored with second-team All-America status that same season.
Before the avalanche years of Minnich, Spry was the school’s leader in home runs in one season (17), RBIs in a single season (57), total bases for a season (133) and had achieved career standards for home runs (40), RBIs (177), total bases (391), games played (164), doubles (43) and runs (148).
After his four-year career was completed at Shepherd, Spry played professionally in the Frontier League for the River City Rascals, Chillicothe Paints and Evansville Otters. His five seasons in the Frontier League saw Spry total 131 RBIs, hit 24 homers and have a five-season batting average of .272. He batted over .290 in three of those years.
Spry returned to Shepherd as Riser’s assistant coach for a time.
The trek across the Bay Bridge near Annapolis was worth it for both Spry and Riser. Spry set scads of records and Riser’s teams fared well in the WVIAC while the slugger from Kent County was with him.