Providence's Program Dead, but Reed Keeps Memory Alive
Siegel, Jon, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
FREDERICK, Md. - It was a day that will live in infamy in Keith Reed's mind.
"October 6," said Reed, a first-round draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles last season. "Two days before my birthday."
That was the date in 1998 when Reed, then a junior on the Providence College baseball team, learned his sport was being eliminated by the school. It didn't matter that it was the oldest sport at the private school or that the Friars had a successful program. All the administration saw was cutting costs and complying with Title IX, the federal law that requires gender equity in college athletics.
"I didn't even know what to do," said Reed, who had heard rumors before but paid little attention. "Then it happened. That was a pretty emotional moment right there. All the guys in the room just wanted to go out there and cuss [the administrators] out. But we tried to act like men."
Although Reed recalls that day vividly, there were other memorable moments. The college let the team play one final season, and the Friars turned it into a special one. They used the death sentence to spark one of the greatest seasons in the storied program's history.
Reed, an outfielder, was named Big East Conference MVP as the Friars won the league title and advanced to the NCAA tournament. It was one of the team's most celebrated seasons, as well as its last.
"We could have just laid down and said, `This is going to be it, so who cares?' said Reed, who now plays for the Class A Frederick Keys. "Instead, we decided to throw it right back in their face by having the best season ever. And that's what we did."
Providence no longer plays baseball, but Reed has never stopped. The 21-year-old is a rising star in the Orioles' organization and recently was promoted from Delmarva to the chain's top Class A club in Frederick. The Massachusetts native struggled in his first few weeks after joining the Keys on June 22 but now is starting to hit his stride.
The rangy outfielder showed his potential last Thursday when he went 4-for-5 with a home run and four RBI in a win over Wilmington. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound right-hander appears to have adjusted to the higher league after devouring South Atlantic League pitchers and playing in the league's All-Star Game.
Reed hit .290 with the Shorebirds to go with his 11 home runs, 59 RBI and 30 stolen bases. Through Saturday he had four home runs and 18 RBI SINCE joining the Keys.
"It's his first full year in pro baseball," said Frederick manager Dave Machemer, who sees Reed bulking up some 20 pounds. …