By Louis Berney
It might have been the biggest
football game in the little halfback’s
high school career. His team, Bishop Walsh of
Cumberland, Md., was undefeated, and he was the
school’s star running back and safety.
The opponent was perennial powerhouse DeMatha
Catholic of Hyattsville, Md., one of the top
high school football teams in the country. It
was a thrilling game. Bishop Walsh put up a good
fight, but DeMatha’s quarterback kicked
the deciding extra point to defeat Bishop Walsh,
the umpires Aug. 11, 2005, at Camden
Yards during a game against the Tampa
Bay Devil Rays.
Mark Goldman/Goldmine Photography
In two years, as fate would have it, the halfback
from Bishop Walsh and the quarterback from DeMatha
would become college roommates at The George
Washington University and teammates on the Colonials’ baseball
Now, more than three decades after their student
days at GW, their lives could intertwine again,
this time in the field of major league baseball.
That halfback is Sam Perlozzo, BS ’73,
the new manager of the Baltimore Orioles. The
DeMatha quarterback is Bill Collins, BA ’72,
a successful D.C. businessman who would like
to own a major league team.
The two products of GW’s baseball program
have waited a long time for their dreams to reach
fruition. Perlozzo had applied for a half dozen
major league managerial jobs during the past
decade without any luck. But on Aug. 4, when
the Orioles fired manager Lee Mazzilli, they
named Perlozzo, a coach with the team for a decade,
as interim manager. Then, last fall, they made
the move permanent, or at least as permanent
as any big league managing job can be.
For Collins, the dream is yet to be fulfilled.
For a dozen years, he lobbied Major League Baseball
to award a team to northern Virginia. When baseball
officials instead moved the Montreal Expos to
Washington, D.C., Collins became a leading player
in a group, American Baseball Capital, that vied
to become owner of the team. However, seven other
groups also made ownership bids, and Collins'
group was not selected. Collins, who has owned
minor league franchises in the past, thus continues
Perlozzo, on the other hand, has the job he
has wanted since his career as a professional
player came to an end 25 years ago.
“There are only 30 of these jobs out there,” he
says of managing in the big leagues. “It’s
catcher Javy Lopez talk before the team’s
final spring training game, played against
the Washington Nationals at Camden Yards.
Mark Goldman/Goldmine Photography
A career in the world of professional sports
can be fleeting, and Perlozzo knows that the
position of big league manager can be the most
ephemeral of all. Managers come and go like the
wind, and often their fate blows beyond their
Yet if anyone ever was ready for taking over
the helm of a major league club, it is Perlozzo.
He has been involved in virtually every level of amateur and professional baseball.
Growing up in Cumberland, he recalls, “There wasn’t a whole lot
else to do. Our spare time was spent going out and looking for other kids to
He first hung out watching his older brother
play and was invited by a coach to join in. He
then moved on to the Dapper Dan League, to Little
League, to the Hot Stove Recreational League.
Then to high school ball, college at GW, the
minor leagues, baseball in Japan, and very briefly,
as an infielder in the big leagues.
Yet it never was easy for Perlozzo. He used
grit, determination, and smarts to outplay other
“I knew from early on that to stick around, I would have to do all the
little things well,” he says. “If I didn’t pay attention and
learn the game, I wouldn’t be around very long. You have to do everything
right. I was never the best kid, even in Little League. There was always another
kid who was stronger or bigger than I was. But eventually, if they didn’t
have the skills, their strength didn’t matter. I paid attention to all
the details. I paid attention to the other players and saw what they did.”
In fact, he was a better football player in
high school than he was a baseball player. Perlozzo
led the city of Cumberland in scoring his junior
year and was named the city’s best back.
Initially, college teams expressed interest in
him. But when they found out how small he was,
their enthusiasm waned.
He wanted to go to college, but his parents did not have much money. He knew
that he needed financial aid if he was to continue his education. When he realized
he never would get a football scholarship, he turned to baseball. He contacted
scouts and coaches he had met through high school baseball and asked for help
and advice. One sent him a list of 10 colleges he should contact about a baseball
scholarship. GW was one of the schools on that list.
Within a week, Steve Korcheck, BS ’54,
MA ’66, EdD ’70, (the former Washington
Senator’s catcher, 1954-59) who was GW’s
baseball coach at the time, responded to Perlozzo’s
letter and said he wanted to watch him play.
But on the day Korcheck arrived in western Maryland,
snow was falling. The game he had come to see
Leo Mazzone joined
the Orioles as pitching coach this
year after serving as pitching coach
of the Atlanta Braves since 1990. Mazzone
and Perlozzo, shown here after the
Orioles defeated the Devil Rays 9-6
on opening day at Camden Yards, are
best friends who grew up together in
Cumberland, Md. Mazzone is one of the
most highly regarded pitching coaches
in the business, having cultivated
the skills of Braves’ pitching
stars such as Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux,
and John Smoltz.
Mark Goldman/Goldmine Photography
Still, the GW coach met with Perlozzo and his
parents and offered him a scholarship.
“I said, ‘Coach, you can’t
offer me a scholarship, you haven’t seen
me play,’” Perlozzo recalls. “He
said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve already
talked to enough people who know you.’”
To celebrate, Korcheck wanted to take the Perlozzos
out for dinner that night. Mrs. Perlozzo demurred,
inviting Korcheck to have a home-cooked spaghetti
dinner at their house. He agreed but said he
wanted to buy the sauce. “So we let him
buy the sauce,” Perlozzo says.
The next fall, in 1969, he began playing infield
for the GW baseball team.
He was excited, not only about playing for
a college team, but for one that took road trips. “It
was awesome,” Perlozzo recalls.
It also was a little strange playing baseball
at GW in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
First of all, like today, the team didn’t
really have a field of its own on campus. Games
were played on the Ellipse behind the White House.
Players were shuffled to the field in an old
Richard Nixon was in the White House at the
time, and his helicopter frequently would land
on the Ellipse, delaying games. “It was
a heckuva home field advantage,” Collins
remembers. “Talk about something that would
distract the opposing team. We didn’t lose
many games there.” At other times passersby
would simply walk across the Ellipse, holding
up the game, to both teams’ consternation.
Perlozzo also happened to be at GW during one
of its most volatile times. Anti-Vietnam War
fever was high on campus. Protests and demonstrations
were common and sometimes got out of hand. One
day the baseball team returned from a road trip
to find virtual martial law on campus. Cars were
turned over and teargas wafted through the streets.
With school officials concerned for students’ safety
near the end of the spring semester in 1971,
students were offered the opportunity to accept
their midterm grades and go home. Perlozzo took
up the offer.
“I had done really well with my grades,
so I took off,” he relates. “I pretty
much stayed out of the political stuff. I didn’t
want to get involved in that. It was a little
scary. I was one of those kids who stayed home
and studied and played sports. I was always nervous
about doing well in college. But I just worked
at it. I was there to play ball and study.”
His studying paid off, and in 1972 he was named
to the College Sports Information Directors Academic
All-America first team.
And just as he excelled academically through
hard work he became a baseball star as much through
hard work as through innate athletic talent.
“He was an outstanding player,” Collins
says. “He was incredibly dedicated. He
was fully committed. He worked hard. He always
worked on improving his skills.”
Perlozzo’s strengths as a ballplayer
were his speed and defense.
As a freshman, he led the nation in stolen
base percentage. He was constantly on base and
After his third year at GW, he was eligible
to be drafted by a major league team. But the
draft came and went, and no organization selected
Perlozzo. Again, he was ignored because of his
size. He lacked the commodities major league
scouts were looking for. But that summer, playing
ball in the Shenandoah Valley, a scout from the
Twins approached him. The scout asked if Perlozzo
was interested in playing professional ball.
But Perlozzo already had scheduled a tryout with
the Phillies and told the Twins’ scout
he couldn’t break that commitment. After
the tryout, though, Philadelphia declined to
offer him a contract. Perlozzo told his parents
he would return to GW for his senior year. But
the Twins’ scout called again and made
him an offer. He had landed a professional baseball
Perlozzo, though, also wanted to earn his degree
from GW. He didn’t have to report to the
Twins’ minor league training camp until
the following spring. So he returned to campus
for the first semester of his senior year. But
he still was several credits shy of graduation.
During his final semester, he was given permission
to write some papers, which he did at spring
training camp in Melbourne, Fla., when he couldn’t
be in class. “While the other guys were
worrying about their at-bats,” he says “I
was worried about finishing a couple of papers
in physiology so I could graduate.” Perlozzo
completed all his course requirements on time,
but he couldn’t attend graduation ceremonies.
He was on the road as a minor league baseball
player while his classmates received their diplomas
During the next five years, Perlozzo slowly
worked his way up the minor league ladder: from
Fort Lauderdale to Dubuque to Reno to Orlando
to Tampa. He certainly wasn’t a slugger—he
hit only three home runs in those five years.
But he batted a respectable .265, stole 115 bases,
played tight defense, and worked so hard and
with such dedication that the Twins promoted
him to the Minnesota roster at the end of the
1977 season. He played in 10 games and hit .291
but was sent back to the minors the next year.
By 1979 he had migrated to the San Diego organization.
Once again, after he put together a good season
at Triple-A in 1979, the Padres brought him up
to the major league club in September. In his
second game, however, Perlozzo pulled a groin
muscle and had to be carried off the field on
a stretcher. Little did he know then, at the
age of 28, that that would be his final game
as a major league player.
He worked himself back into shape over the
winter and thought he had a good chance to begin
the 1980 season with the Padres. But then a San
Diego official called him and said another team
was interested in purchasing his contract. “Who?” Perlozzo
asked. The Yakult Swallows in the Japanese Central
League, he was told. “I don’t even
know where Japan is,” he remembers thinking.
But he was told he had little chance to make
the Padres the next year, and the Swallows offered
him good money. So Perlozzo spent the next year
in Japan, the one place where he was able to
display a modicum of power. He hit 15 home runs.
The following year, he decided it was time
to return home. He still wanted to play in the
major leagues. But no team came calling. The
Mets, however, asked if he would be interested
in serving as a player-coach at their Triple-A
farm club in Tidewater, Va. He said yes.
He quickly was dismayed to discover that the Mets were more interested in him
as a coach than as a player.
“So at that point,” he says, “I
realized my career as a player was done. I decided
that if I wanted to stay in the game, I would
have to coach and manage in the minor leagues.
The least I could do was give it a try. I loved
baseball so much. I wanted to keep the uniform
It quickly became apparent that Perlozzo was
a very good coach, especially in his work with
“One of his greatest assets is his ability
to communicate with today’s players, both
young and old,” says Jim Duquette, the
Orioles’ vice president of baseball operations. “That’s
very important in today’s game and in how
you manage your team.”
During the next five years, Perlozzo managed
teams in the Mets’ farm system, from Class
A up to Triple-A. Three of his five teams finished
first in their leagues. None had a losing record.
He was a good teacher, a good strategist, a good communicator.
“The minor league managing jobs were very
satisfying,” he says. “You were more
than a coach and manager. You had 18-year-old
kids playing for you. Their parents entrusted
them to me. You took care of them and wanted
them to move up to the next level. And then,
as a Triple-A manager [for the Mets’ Tidewater
Tides in Norfolk, Va.] you got to tell them when
they were being promoted to the big leagues.
You liked to see the look on their faces. It
was very gratifying.”
Before the 1987 season, Mets manager Davey
Johnson asked Perlozzo to become his third base
coach in New York. He was there for three years,
and then was hired as third base coach by Lou
Piniella in Cincinnati, where he won a World
Series in 1990 as the Reds swept the Oakland
A’s. Piniella moved to Seattle to manage
the Mariners in 1993, and Perlozzo went along
Johnson and Piniella were two of the canniest
managers in baseball. Perlozzo learned a great
deal from each of them. He also learned that
he had the skills and the temperament to manage
himself one day. What he had yet to learn was
how to convince someone to hire him as manager.
Meanwhile, Perlozzo’s father had become
terminally ill back in Cumberland. The son wanted
to be near the father, so when Johnson was named
Baltimore’s manager after the 1995 season,
Perlozzo asked to rejoin his former mentor rather
than remain a continent apart from his father
in Seattle. Johnson gave him the Orioles’ third
base coaching job, and Perlozzo shuttled much
of the year between Baltimore and Cumberland. “It
was an extremely tough year for me,” he
remembers. His father died on Sept. 11, 1996,
just weeks before the Orioles were to go into
the American League playoffs.
He remained as a coach in Baltimore, as one
manager after another came and went. Each time
he was hopeful of being promoted to manager.
Each time he was passed over, just as he was
by other teams searching for new field leaders.
But last year, after a surprisingly strong
start, the Orioles began unraveling. With eight
weeks to go in the season, Mazzilli was fired
as manager and Perlozzo was asked to take over.
He finally had the job he had coveted. But it
couldn’t have come at a more strenuous
time. Not only were the Orioles losing games
on the field, but the clubhouse was in disarray.
The hot-button issue of steroids infested itself
in the Baltimore dugout when star Rafael Palmeiro
failed a drug test. The Orioles had to suspend
their former best pitcher, Sidney Ponson, after
a series of arrests for drunken driving. The
once great Sammy Sosa was faltering, and rumors
existed of a feud between him and the team’s
best player, Miguel Tejada. Through none of his
own doing, all these episodes and others fell
right into the new manager’s lap.
But baseball is a game that offers renewal
each spring, and this year Perlozzo begins as
permanent manager with a clean slate. The players
like him and respect him. Yet he knows he has
a difficult task ahead of him. The Orioles have
fallen on the hardest of times over the past
decade. Their loyal fan base is becoming disenchanted.
They keep waiting for a renaissance. It now will
be GW graduate Perlozzo’s turn to see if
he can perform the magic. And that is a challenge
he relishes, just as he always has sought to
overcome the odds, as far back as that football
game against DeMatha more than a generation ago.
“People are taking shots at us all the
time,” he says. “We now have the
chance to turn things around and put ourselves
on the board in Baltimore. That’s a pretty
tough thing to do. But who could ask for a better
Louis Berney, BA ’72, is a Baltimore-based
free-lance writer. He is the author of Tales
from the Orioles Dugout (Sports Publishing,
A Winning Career
John Flaherty also turned Colonials
baseball experience into MLB success.
John Flaherty warms up in batting practice May 15, 2005, before
a Yankees game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland.
Michael Pimentel/Icon SMI
After John Flaherty’s junior year
at The George Washington University in
1988, he was offered a professional baseball
contract by the Boston Red Sox as a 25th-round
His father told him that he only could
sign with the Red Sox if he agreed to
complete his course requirements so he
could graduate from GW.
So, over the next two years, after
summers playing minor league ball in
Elmira, N.Y., and Winter Haven, Fla.,
Flaherty returned to the GW campus during
the fall semesters, when other ball players
were enjoying the leisure of their offseasons.
He earned his degree in 1990 with a major
in speech communications and a minor
in psychology. And he soon after would
earn the distinction of becoming only
the third student in GW history to play
in the major leagues (along with Orioles
manager Sam Perlozzo and Washington Senators
catcher Steve Korcheck).
Having announced his retirement in
this year’s preseason with the
Boston Red Sox, Flaherty played 14 years
in the major leagues. He says both baseball
and his other fields of study at GW helped
him “every day” in his career
as a catcher. That’s because the
articulate Flaherty, who is 38, is a
player who uses his head as much as his
physical talents to survive in the majors.
He continues to use those skills as a
broadcaster for the Yankees Entertainment
and Sports Network.
Flaherty played for six teams—the
Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers, the Toronto
Blue Jays, the San Diego Padres, the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the New York
Yankees. And, in one of those serendipitous
twists that is not uncommon in big league
baseball, Flaherty last winter returned
to the Red Sox, the team that first signed
him and that he then left 13 years ago.
The Red Sox sought Flaherty because
of his brains, maturity, and ability
to adapt to any situation a big league
team puts him in. “He’s always
been a true professional,” says
Red Sox manager Terry Francona, using
a word to describe Flaherty that is hallowed
in major league clubhouses. “He
understands his role, and he responds
Flaherty knew early this year when GW
Magazine interviewed him that
his days as a player were numbered.
He hadn’t been an every-day catcher
since 2000, when he played in Tampa
Bay. But he liked the fact that he
had come full circle and returned to
his original team in Boston. “There’s
always a soft spot for your first team,” he
says. What’s interesting is that
for the previous three seasons, Flaherty
played in his native New York with
the Red Sox’ archrival, the Yankees.
Though he was never a Yankees fan growing
up in Nyack, N.Y., nor in awe of the
mighty Yankees aura, Flaherty enjoyed
playing for the Yankees and being able
to return home and play near family
and friends. He continues that local
connection through his pre-grame broadcasts
for the YES Network.
In New York, Flaherty had one primary
responsibility. Though he was second
string to regular backstop Jorge Posada,
Flaherty was assigned to catch every
game pitched by Yankees super star Randy
Johnson, one of the fiercest and most
intimidating pitchers in baseball history.
He initially fretted that being named
to catch Johnson might harm his relationship
with Posada. That didn’t happen,
though. And when he one day looks back
on his baseball career and shares stories
with his grandchildren, Flaherty says, “I
can say I was Randy’s personal
Entering the 2006 season, Flaherty had
a career batting average of .252 with
80 home runs spread over 14 seasons.
He put together a noteworthy streak of
hitting in 27 consecutive games with
San Diego in 1996 and was considered
an above average starting catcher with
Tampa Bay seven years ago.
Flaherty is happy to remain in the
game in his new capacity in the broadcast
world. Eventually, he says, he might
like to become a coach or manager but
not until his two sons and one daughter,
who range in age from 4 to 8, finish
school. “I already put my family
through the wringer,” he says,
referring to the constant travel required
of a major leaguer during the almost
nine months of spring training and regular
and post-season play. In the interim,
Flaherty says, he hopes to continue work
in broadcasting, a job in which he can
utilize his intelligence, experience
in the game, and eloquence as a speaker.
Flaherty has come a long way since
his playing days at GW, when he had no
expectations of being a major leaguer.
He and Perlozzo talk occasionally about
their time at GW. “Sammy and I
are both very proud of the fact that
we came from GW,” he says. Flaherty
also is proud of lasting in the major
leagues for so many years. “I know
I wasn’t the best player or the
most talented,” he says, “but
I worked as hard as any player, and I
was always a good teammate.”
Colonials Depth Chart:
Other GW Alumni in Baseball
Sam Perlozzo and John Flaherty aren’t
the only former GW athletes to play in
the major leagues.
Korcheck, BS ’54,
MA ’66, EdD ’70, spent four
years (1954-55 and 1958-59) playing for
the old Washington Senators after graduating
from GW. His playing time was limited
to 58 games. He then went on to earn
a master’s degree and PhD at GW
and serve as the Colonials’ baseball
coach. Now a businessman in the Tampa-St.
Petersburg area, he is a former president
of Manatee Community College in Florida.
Ellicott City, Md., native Mike
BBA ’02, was selected in the seventh
round of baseball’s amateur free
agent draft by the Montreal Expos after
graduating from GW. He is a left-handed
pitcher in the Washington Nationals’ system
and was named the organization’s
2005 minor league pitcher of the year.
Early this season, he was pitching for
the Nationals’ Triple-A team, the
New Orleans Zephyrs. On April 27 he was
called up for his major league debut
against the St. Louis Cardinals, making
him the fourth Colonials baseball player
to play in the majors. He is shown here
during his second major league game May
2 against the New York Mets, in which
he led the Nationals to a 6-2 victory.
Several other GW graduates have had
an association with professional
baseball. Among them are:
Theodore Lerner, AA ’48,
LLB ’50, GW trustee
emeritus, and his family are the new
lead owners of the Washington Nationals.
Lerner is a successful real estate
developer. Through his contributions,
GW’s Theodore N. Lerner Hall
and the Annette and Theodore Lerner
Family Health and Wellness Center are
named in the family’s honor.
Other Lerner alumni are son Mark Lerner,
BBA ’75, daughter Marla Lerner
Tanenbaum, JD ’83, and son-in-law
Robert K. Tanenbaum, JD ’82.
Reinsdorf, BA ’57, is the
longtime owner of the Chicago White Sox
and the Chicago Bulls. He has been one
of the most active owners in shaping
the direction of major league baseball
during the past two decades and was instrumental
in paving the way for the move of the
Montreal Expos to Washington.
BA ’77, is president
of the New York Yankees. A lifelong Yankees
fan, he first worked with owner
George Steinbrenner in 1990 while
serving as the team’s
outside counsel. In the 1990s,
he served as MLB’s chief
negotiator and director of the
Committee, helping to negotiate
five-year contract that expired
in 2002. To
read more about him, follow this
link to the fall 2002 GW Magazine:
Ritchie, BBA ’87, a former
Triple-A outfielder in the San Francisco
Giants’ system, is the hitting
coordinator for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He formerly was a batting instructor
for the Chicago White Sox minor league
teams in Birmingham (Double-A) and Charlotte
(Triple-A). His wife, Kelly, BA ’86,
is a GW crew alumna.
Collins, BA ’72, a roommate
of Perlozzo while at GW, was involved
for much of the past decade in bringing
a major league club back to Washington.
A prominent businessman in the district,
first in telecommunications and now in
golf course management, Collins was part
of a group that bid for Nationals ownership.
A former GW catcher, he was drafted by
the Milwaukee Brewers and played in the
minor leagues for a couple of years before
turning to business and politics.
Patton, BBA ’02, played baseball
for GW in the early 1990s and was drafted
by the Boston Red Sox in 1993. His career
was cut short by injuries. He returned
to GW to earn his bachelor’s degree
Fitzgerald, BA ’85, MA ’88,
JD ’91, was drafted by the San
Francisco Giants and played one season
in the minor leagues. He realized he
wouldn’t reach the major leagues,
so left baseball and returned to GW to
earn his master’s and law degrees.
He now is a partner in the D.C. office
of the international law firm of Troutman
Sanders and is a big supporter of the
Colonials’ baseball program.
Toomey, BS ’74, is a former
GW baseball player and coach (1975-79)
and has served as a major league and
international scout for a number of big
league organizations, including the Pittsburgh
Pirates, New York Mets, Texas Rangers,
and Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.
Anthony Raglani, a recent student and
GW outfielder, is a prospect with the
Los Angeles Dodgers, who selected him
in the fifth round of the 2005 amateur
player draft. He is currently an outfielder
with the Jacksonville Suns of the Double-A