MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports

“The University of Maryland,” it read, “invites you to unlock a world of learning, discovery and exploration at Maryland Day (Saturday, April 30). Take part of hundreds of family-friendly events and interactive exhibits during a daylong celebration and inspiring journey across campus.”

My lifelong friend and classmate Bill Feeney and I decided we would return to our school anyway. What was it that invitation said about a daylong celebration? We know how to do that. We honed our skills as students at the University of Maryland in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and, in fact, took many, many inspiring journeys across campus in that time.

So we got the band back together. Think of it as Homecoming in the spring. And, in fact, there was an estimated 80,000-plus people on campus for a great many Maryland events on Saturday.

The place was jumping with many of the learning events taking place on or around picturesque McKeldin Mall at the foot of McKeldin Library and the Main Administration Building, both of which we had avoided like the plague as students, so why not stick with what we know and avoid them again on Saturday?

That’s what we did. But truthfully, we didn’t return to College Park for any particular event or reason, other than to return to a place we dearly love and see what the day might bring.

Call it a day about nothing; but a day about everything.

We started the morning at an outstanding tailgate event sponsored by the Old Line Tailgating Club, which strives to maximize youth participation and getting more kids involved at Maryland and in Maryland athletics, purchasing tickets and sponsoring scholarships. As at all of the Old Line Gameday tailgates located near Tawes Hall in Lot 1D, breakfast and lunch were catered, refreshments provided, new friends made and money raised for worthy causes.

Next, it was off to Maryland Stadium for the annual Red-White spring football game to wrap up the Terps’ 15-practice spring season.

The Red team, which featured the offensive starters and the No. 2 defense, took an early 14-0 lead and never looked back, defeating the White team, 14-3.

A lot of us were hoping to see the progress of the Terps’ star receiver Dontay Demus Jr., who suffered a season-ending knee injury last fall in the Iowa game, but Demus, as well as other top players coming back from injury, including Jeshaun Jones, Rakim Jarrett and Mason Lunsford did not participate.

However, we did have the chance to see Florida transfer wide receiver Jacob Copeland catch five passes from quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa for 70 yards to earn Spring Game MVP honors.

Next, it was over to Shipley Field, now Shipley Field at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium, to see the No. 23-ranked Maryland Terps, fresh off the second perfect game pitched in school history, pitched Friday by Ryan Ramsey, to take on Northwestern.

There was no perfect game on Saturday, at least not for the Terps, although starter Jason Savacool pitched six scoreless innings. The bullpen, though, could not protect the 1-0 lead as the Wildcats won, 7-4, in front of a near-capacity crowd at Maryland’s beautiful baseball facility.

The entire experience of Maryland baseball is a new and exciting one. For years, baseball was merely an afterthought to everybody other than the players. Hell, they let built Jerry Claiborne’s football building in deep left field.

The last time I had been at Shipley there were no seats on the steps of the seating bowl, it was well before the present-day all-FieldTurf surface (dirt on only the mound) and I was likely under the influence of a product that now can be purchased over the counter in edible form (it was the ‘70s, alright?) and Maryland usually finished something like 16-21. And that was a good season.

It’s nothing like that now, and it’s a great thing to see and to experience. What caught my eye the most on Saturday was all of the kids from the area youth and travel teams who were in attendance rooting on the Terps.

Maryland baseball now has a much larger following and has become one of the fastest-rising programs in the country, and it’s just a wonderful thing to see because it was far too long in coming.

Finally, no visit to Maryland is complete without stopping by The Adele H. Stamp Student Union, commonly referred to as “Stamp,” and the heart of all that is life on campus, to check out the book store and to spend some money on Maryland swag that you had not planned on spending.

All for a good cause, of course, and all for making it a perfectly magical day.

Thanks for a great Maryland Day, Maryland, as well as for everything else. See you in the fall, for more days about absolutely everything.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT