From the sports editor: Lewes’ Short the best on the mound

Bob Langrell used to have the toughest job on the Lewes High baseball team.

He used to have to catch Chris Short.

The left-hander threw so hard that Langrell had to put his hand in ice water between innings just to keep down the swelling.

Chris Short

“He just amazed me,” Langrell once said about Short. “He had the speed to dominate anybody. You were lucky just to get a few foul balls off him. When he pitched, it was almost an automatic win.”

There have been a lot of great downstate baseball pitchers since Short was dominating opposing batters in the mid-1950s.

But there may have been nobody better.

When we posed the question of who was downstate’s all-time best pitcher, our readers came up with plenty of worthy candidates.

Has anybody had a better senior season than Lake Forest’s John Kirby in 1985? The left-hander holds the state record with 20 strikeouts in a seven-inning game.

Striking out 124 batters in 71 innings, Kirby had 57 strikeouts in one remarkable three-game stretch. He gave up just two earned runs all season.

Laurel’s Shawn Phillips wasn’t bad, either. He overcame a potentially career-ending shoulder injury as a youngster to go 15-2 with 114 strikeouts in his last two seasons as a Bulldog.

Phillips led Laurel to the state semifinals in 2000, posting an ERA of 0.99 as a senior.

In the pitch-count era, current Dover senior Dom Velazquez went 18-2 with 203 strikeouts in 134.2 innings and an 1.50 ERA.

And that list doesn’t even include future Major Leaguers Ian Snell and Dave Williams of Caesar Rodney or Renie Martin from Dover.

Smyrna’s Matt Sartin (1990) and Seaford’s Matt Phillips (1994) were also primarily pitchers who were named Gatorade Player of the Year for Delaware.

Chris Short was pretty special, though.

While his high school stats aren’t available, he reportedly would strike out 17 to 19 batters a game. After transferring to Bordentown (N.J.) Military Academy for his senior year in 1956, Short struck out 147 batters and walked just 12 in 83 innings.

While he was still at Lewes High, at least 12 Major League teams were interested in Short. Langrell remembered one particularly determined Cleveland scout.

“He tried to hand Chris a $25,000 check through the backstop,” said Langrell, the late Wesley College assistant football coach. “He (Short) turned it down. I hadn’t ever seen anything like that before.”

Of course, it’s difficult not to judge Short’s high school career in light of what he did with the Phillies in the 1960s.

Short, who died in 1991 at the age of only 53, may have been Delaware’s best Major League player of all-time.

He ranks fourth in Phils’ history in wins (132), strikeouts (1,585), innings pitched (2,253) and shutouts (24). Short was a two-time Major League all-star who, because of injuries, started 10 of the last 15 games in the Phillies’ 1964 season.

“He never had a sore arm,” said Art Mahaffey, Short’s roommate with the Phillies. “He’d pitch nine innings one day and the next day he’d come out and somebody would tell him to throw one over the outfield fence. Without even warming up, he’d throw it over the scoreboard. Nobody had an arm like that.”

Lake honors pair

Lake Forest High has named Elle Wood and Kristopher Thompson the winners of its Mike Adams Award for this school year.

The honor goes to a female and male senior multi-sport athlete.

Wood played field hockey, basketball and soccer for the Spartans with Thompson playing football, wrestling and lacrosse.

A 1969 Harrington High grad, Adams, too, was a three-sport athlete. He died shortly after graduation of kidney failure after taking a hit on the field as a senior football player.

Odds & ends

• Sussex Academy’s Isabella Kwan was the downstate winner of the Dr. Michael J. Axe/First State Orthopedics College Scholarship as awarded by the Delaware Women’s Alliance for Sports and Fitness.

Kwan played lacrosse, field hockey and basketball for the Seahawks. A straight-A student, the Lewes resident is continuing her lacrosse career at Occidental College.

• On Friday night, Dover High turned on its stadium lights and read off the names of senior spring-sports athletes who aren’t getting to play their final seasons.

• It’s been a couple weeks now since high school spring-sports athletes found out their seasons wouldn’t be played. The Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association put out a press release at the time, which concluded with this statement:

“We ask the community to continue being a support to our students and student-athletes as they manage emotions with the loss of sports, proms, and other special events. We empathize with all students, student-athletes, schools and communities during this time. The Class of 2020 will not be forgotten.”