As the Maryland baseball team rolls forth, 10 games over .500 and hunting for the program’s first NCAA tournament bid since 1971, the Terrapins will do so with some freshly shaved scalps.
After securing a series win over visiting Georgia Tech on Saturday, the players and staff members gathered to buzz their heads, raising money for the Vs. Cancer Foundation. According to the team’s website, Maryland had raised more than $18,000 as of Saturday, in a similar venture as last season, when everyone also went bald in support of raising awareness.
The event arose thanks to director of baseball operations Matthew Swope, whose sister Janie Means died from cancer six years ago. The Diamondback wrote deeper about Swope’s intimate connection to the disease late last week:
Matt Swope finally broke down, and tears streamed down his face as he sat next to his sister Janie Means’ hospital bed in 2008. The emotions of the past three years while his sister was battling myeloma cancer, a rare and deadly blood disease, had taken a toll on Swope.
But while Swope bawled in front of his sister for the first time in years, something unexpected happened. Means, who had grown less responsive over the past few weeks, reached out and grabbed her younger brother’s hand. Though no words were exchanged, Swope was encouraged, and he went home that night prepared to return to the hospital the next morning.
That was the last time Swope saw his sister alive. He received a phone call from his mother in the morning informing him his sister had died.
Some more photos from the event are below, also courtesy of Maryland athletics. In the first, ace pitcher Jake Stinnett (4-5, 2.68 ERA, 84 strikeouts, 0.89 WHIP) takes his first buzzing straight down the center of his head. In the second, pitchers Brady Kirkpatrick (left) and Jamie Pashuck take their turn.
And here’s Swope:
“We’ve got a lot of guys affected by that disease in our program,” Coach Jon Szefc said. “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been one way or another. It’s a little thing, but it’s a big thing. You talk about doing the little things in baseball on the field, this is a little thing off the field, but I think it ends up being a big thing.”
The Terps are currently 24-14 overall and 9-11 in the ACC with three more league series left. The latest NCAA tournament projections over at Chasing Omaha have Maryland firmly in the field, largely thanks to the team’s superb RPI of 19.