Beau Hall played in his first travel baseball game for the hamburgers and hot dogs.
He came away with a full stomach and a passion for the game.
Hall, now an Ocean City High School senior, pitches and plays center field for the Red Raiders, who are in the midst of a stellar season. The Red Raiders (21-3) have won 18 straight games and are the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference champions. They host Hammonton in a South Jersey Group III quarterfinal at 2 p.m. today. Hall is 5-1 as a pitcher and batting .411.
Hall's friend Vince Terry catches for the Red Raiders. Terry invited Hall to play in a game for the South Jersey Sand Sharks, a travel team based in Galloway Township, when they were 7 years old. Hall had just played in some recreation leagues before that and wasn't that serious about baseball.
"They just needed an extra player," Hall said, "and there was a huge barbecue."
Hall played left field. He got two hits and made an acrobatic catch. He has been a full-time baseball player ever since.
"I played really well," he said. "I just loved playing with my teammates and being part of the team. I still hang with those kids to this day."
Hall, 18, is an only child who lives in the Seaville section of Upper Township with his mother, Mary Ann Ginn. He will attend Georgetown University on a partial scholarship.
In a telephone interview Wednesday night, Hall spoke about a number of topics, including Ocean City's winning streak and his fondness for surfing.
Are you a pitcher who plays center field or a center fielder who pitches?: I definitely see myself as a center fielder and hitter. I just throw it pretty hard when I pitch. I can get guys out with my fastball. In college, I talked to the Georgetown coaches and as of right now I'm going to do both until I fail at one of them. I'll play center field during the week and pitch during the weekend games.
On whether hitting or pitching is more fun: I'd say pitching is more fun. In center field, you get two to three balls a game. You get three at-bats. In pitching, you're in on every pitch. The focus it takes to pitch a full game and get the win is a lot more challenging than going out and getting a couple of base hits.
On Ocean City's winning streak: We're having a great season, but we kind of look at every game as (an individual contest). We don't worry about our record. We play just game-by-game, which has been working so far. If we lose (today), we're out of the tournament. We're (21-3) and have had a great year, but none of that really matters if we don't get a South Jersey title. We're going for it all this year.
On playing baseball in Ocean City, where the spring weather can be chilly: It's pretty tough. It's good from a pitching standpoint because the win always blows in. You get a couple of miles an hour on your fastball and fly balls stay up in the air. There's not many home runs. But from a hitting standpoint, our team would have six to eight more home runs if we didn't play on our field. Off the bat, you think it's in the gap or a home run, and with the wind blowing in it's a fly ball out. You have to change your approach to hit one hard and low. It's good because you're not swinging for the fences.
On being an only child: I can't complain (laughs). I get a lot of the things I want - a new glove, a new bat. My mom has always been there for me. I'd like to have an older brother to look up to, but I have plenty of cousins to look up to and they've definitely helped me along the way.
On his decision to attend Georgetown: I got a 75 percent scholarship to Georgetown. The competition level is great, but I didn't want to go to a college and ride the bench until my junior year. I think I can get a shot at playing at Georgetown. Going pro is a dream of mine, but being realistic, Georgetown is one of the best schools to get a degree from.
On what he does to relax: I surf a lot. A lot of my buddies surf. It's very peaceful. You go out there and hang out with friends and catch some waves. If I'm in a bad mood, I'll go out there and surf. I do it mostly in the summer, but I go out in the winter with a wet suit, hood, boots, gloves, everything.
On his first name: I believe it's in a country song (Tim McGraw's "Don't Take That Girl"). It's my mom's favorite song.
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