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Kenwood's Hall of Fame To Honor Former Orioles Pitcher

Dave Leonhard will be honored as part of the homecoming celebration.

Dave Leonhard will be the first to tell you: He was just another team player at Kenwood High School.

"I couldn't put anybody out in baseball my senior year. I was an OK cross country runner, just middle of the pack, but I got better at all that stuff as I got older," he said. "I had a decent arm, I could run and jump, I just couldn't play the games very well."

Of course, he played well enough to be part of a county baseball championship, play baseball at Johns Hopkins University and, eventually, pitch for the Baltimore Orioles.

Before Friday night's homecoming football game against Franklin, Kenwood will induct the 71-year-old Leonhard and nine others into its athletic hall of fame. The ceremony takes place at Kenwood at 5 p.m.

Someone planning on pitching in the majors doesn't typically make their way through at Washington College and Johns Hopkins University. But Leonhard wasn't exactly planning on it.

Scouts for the Chicago Cubs saw him pitch in a game at Washington. He signed a deal, but ultimately went to Hopkins to finish his degree. That's where legendary scout Walter Youse entered the picture. One summer, Leonhard pitched against Youse's amateur team in Linthicum, a team that included Reggie Jackson.

"He had a team of potential big leaguers ... and I pitched a decent game against them one time that summer," he said.

He ran into Youse that winter at a sporting goods store while buying some cleats, and Youse asked him to play in his summer instructional league. Leonhard figured it beat any other summer job.

"I would be glad to do that and almost immediately, I was pretty successful in the minor league," he said.

Leonhard ultimately found his way into the majors.

"It was like a dream, the whole thing," he said. I never really expected to play in the big league and all of a sudden I was in the big leagues. It was weird. I don't know how to describe it."

Leonhard spent parts of six seasons with the Birds, and pitched in the World Series in 1969 and 1971. He played alongside the likes of Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Boog Powell, Mike Cuellar and Terry Crowley and under the incomparable Earl Weaver.

The 1971 team boasted four 20-game winners, which you would think would energize the bullpen behind them.

"The more I pitched the better I got and I never had that opportunity in the big leagues," he said. "It was frustrating to have such good pitchers on the team. It'd be like a third baseman playing behind Brooks Robinson."

Between the starting rotation and bullpen, Leonhard notched a 16-14 career record and 3.15 ERA in 117 appearances for the Orioles, the only major league organization he ever played for. His most action was seen in 1968, when he made 18 starts of 28 appearances and pitched to a 7-7 record and a 3.13 ERA.

Now Leonhard is watching a new flock of Birds harness some old Orioles Magic with their first playoff appearance since 1997 and a roster that includes few recognizable stars like Brooks, Frank or Palmer.

Leonhard now lives in Beverly, MA, where he owns a garden shop with his wife. He confesses to being a Boston Red Sox fan, but he can't help but root for this year's O's.

"It's the same old story. It's all about pitching, They're pitching pretty good," he said. "People try to make baseball pretty complicated, but it's all about pitching. Plus I think Showalter does a good job."

Find a full list of inductees here, Kenwood High Inducting 11 Into Hall of Fame. 

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