Former Hawk McCabe Inducted to Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame
Ballplayer Spent a Year Playing for the Shore, Three Years Coaching
PRINCESS ANNE, Maryland – Former Hawks slugger and coach Brandon McCabe (Millsboro, Delaware) was named the Indian River Teacher of the Year in 2021 as an agricultural and engineering instructor at Sussex Central High School in Georgetown, Delaware but he lends much of his success in life to the baseball diamond. A team MVP in 2005 and coach for the next three, McCabe will earn another distinction in 2022 as he has been elected to the National Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Mid-Atlantic induction ceremony was held at Frostburg University on March 26.
“It led me to enjoy helping these guys and it led to an opportunity for me to teach, which I didn’t even go to school for,” McCabe said. “Here I am now twelve years later, district teacher of the year – coaching at UMES really helped me start that process.”
In his one year as a player for the Shore, McCabe led the Hawks in most major hitting categories, including batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, hits, doubles, and home runs.
After running out of playing eligibility, McCabe turned to the dugout, first being an undergrad coach for the outfield, then two years as a graduate student assistant.
“When I started coaching college and when I started youth coaching after that, it was to help these guys learn what I learned at an earlier age, try to expedite that learning process,” McCabe said.
Attending Delaware Valley as a freshman, McCabe converted from a pitcher to an outfielder/first baseman and was third-team All-American as a junior at first before transferring to the Shore.
“When I went to DelVal I wasn’t highly recruited, I actually went there as a pitcher,” McCabe said. “The coach said why don’t you go out to the left-field and come back in the spring. The assistant coach (asked) ‘do you want to play college baseball? Do you want to be a regular?’ and I said ‘yes, I eat, sleep and breathe baseball’. He broke me down and built me back up. He completely remade my swing.”
McCabe started playing semi-pro baseball in the Eastern Shore Baseball League after his sophomore year where he has played ever since minus a one-summer stint playing independent minor league ball in Texas as a member of the Corpus Christi Beach Dogs and McKinney Blue Thunder of the Continental Minor League.
That first season was when the ESBL switched from metal bats to wood bats only, which only improved his hitting.
“The sweet spot is smaller, if you hit the end of the bat you end up with a broken-bat, if you hit towards your hands, you get a broken bat,” McCabe said. “That first year was my first year using wood and it helped me speed up the process of learning the stuff I was taught as a freshman.”
After his All-American season, McCabe wanted to prove to himself that he could hang in Division One by transferring to Maryland Eastern Shore. During his one season playing for the Hawks, McCabe was named second-team All-MEAC for the damage he did at the plate as the only Hawk to play all 47 games that season.
His biggest memory as a player was his home run against Duke, where some of the best college baseball players have graced the field as part of the Atlantic Coastal Conference.
“I hit probably the farthest home run I had ever hit in my life,” McCabe said. The SID (at the time) said it was the farthest one ever hit at Duke which obviously is saying something with ACC ball down there. At that time Mark Teixeira had just played (in the conference) a few years earlier, a lot of big names came through ACC ball.”
Aside from having to learn to be a professional hitter with wood bats, McCabe attributed the intelligence of the league to improve his performance, on top of being one of the most enjoyable parts of still playing.
One of the smartest men in the league was current Hawks head coach Brian Hollamon, who is meticulous with his stats and planning for each game. On top of having Hollamon planning against his bat, McCabe would occasionally face current Salisbury University baseball coach Troy Brohawn – who held Barry Bonds to one walk and no hits over 11 plate appearances during his time in Major League Baseball.
“The level of competition was always high when I played Brian’s team, he made sure everybody on his team was prepared,” McCabe said. “They had stats against us, they knew how to pitch us, so it wasn’t just guys going up there throwing his pitches, they had a plan for each batter. They knew our pitchers, so it was almost next-level baseball playing against Brian’s team.”
McCabe also played against and with current Hawks pitching coach Shawn Phillips.
“We played together on the Drillers and went to the World Series together, that was one of the most fun years,” McCabe said. “You took your game to another level when you played him, you were facing someone that was legit and smart, you had to ramp up your thinking.”
Since leaving the Shore as a coach, McCabe continues to follow along with the current team, continuing his affinity for the baseball team. The addition of Hollamon as a coach has the semi-pro hall of Famer excited for the progress and prospects that await.
“I’m really excited for the future of the program,” McCabe said. “I think Brian is going to do a really good job of turning the program around and I think it’s going to be competitive year in and year out.”
For more information on Eastern Shore Athletics visit http://www.easternshorehawks.com/.