By Shailey Klein
The Oak Hall baseball team welcomes a new head coach in alum Kevin Maris for the upcoming season. Maris returns after not coaching high school baseball for four years. He was the head coach at St. Francis Catholic High School most recently, but coached at Oak Hall from 1997-2008 leading the Eagles to its last district championship. The Oak Hall baseball field is named after his father, Major League Baseball great, Roger Maris.
Maris’ baseball career as a coach began at Oak Hall. In 1990, he was asked by head coach Mac Hall to join his staff. It was then, that he fell in love with coaching the game of baseball. “It was a real privilege to mentor all the young men that came through the OHS baseball program for the 18 previous years I coached at Oak Hall,” Maris said.
In his previous time with the Oak Hall baseball program, Maris helped produce a handful of successful baseball players, who went on to play at the collegiate level as well as professionally in Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball (MLB). Most notably, Brian Ellington was drafted in 2012 by the Miami Marlins and holds the franchise record for the “Fastest MLB Fastball Average” in a season with a velocity of 98.6 MPH.
Maris’ philosophy when it comes to coaching baseball revolves around the concept of building young men into “first class” individuals to help them succeed on and off the field. His priority is “to teach [the athletes] to play the game hard nosed and clean, [and] to create a winning environment which comes from learning that adversity is an opportunity to succeed, and realizing that you’re only as good as your next opportunity,” he said. “I want my players to understand that talent is God-given, but that talent can be polished,” Maris continued.
Maris brings a wealth of knowledge about the game to the program, which he attributes to his father. Maris also brings Bobby Hill into the program as an assistant coach. Hill was inducted into Alcorn University’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 for his baseball brilliance and was previously a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The two have worked together coaching for many years and Maris believes he will be a great addition to the team.
Looking ahead to this season, Maris has his sights set to win a district championship this year and ultimately reach the state championship. “As a coach, this makes me very excited to get back to working with and developing these young athletes in hopes that they will love and respect the game the way I do,” Maris said. “2020 is going to be a great season for the Eagles,” he exclaimed.