SPORTS | June 30, 2021
Three years ago, the Morgan Park High School baseball team came up just short of winning a city championship. For the 11 seniors on the team, the bittersweet feeling of being so close to the title as freshmen provided the extra motivation they needed to close out their high school careers as champions, defeating Simeon Career Academy 14-11.
The team credits their unselfish playing style as one of the keys to their success this season, as well as the support of their coach, Ernest Radcliffe, and principal, Dr. Femi Skanes. While they are headed their separate ways in the fall—with several of them planning to continue playing baseball at the college level—they came together for a group conversation about their takeaways from their time on the team and what future Morgan Park students can learn from their dedication both on and off the baseball field.
How does it feel to close out your time on the Morgan Park baseball team as city champions?
Michael Eaton: It feels really good to be given the opportunity to get to say that we are the best in the city. We worked hard to prove it and went out there and performed well and fought hard. Even though I don’t even think we’ve played our best baseball yet, we still won the championship.
Darryl Loyd III: Knowing that we did this in our last year felt great because all the seniors and juniors ahead of us didn’t have the chance to take it all the way, but we did it which is a great accomplishment.
What qualities did this team have that helped you achieve a goal that previous teams weren’t able to achieve?
Omar Albert Jr.: We were motivated and always stayed humble. We were scrappy and never took anything for granted.
Jeremiah Hibbler: I feel like this team had a lot of chemistry and we all worked together unselfishly which helped us bring home the championship.
Over the past four years, how have you grown as baseball players?
Darryl Loyd III: I feel like I’ve grown a lot. Obviously, I’ve gotten bigger and stronger and my body has developed, but I also think I’ve taken on more leadership and have contributed more by making plays and getting more involved.
Jatonne Sterling Jr.: I think that not only my athletic ability has grown, but also my character. During my freshman year, I wasn’t as skilled as I am now. That growth is due to all of the work we put in with Coach Radcliffe, and I also have to give credit to my teammates for helping me get extra hits in and extra ground balls and fly balls.
What role did the adults at Morgan Park play in your success?
Jaylen Buchanan: They played a big role with their sacrifices for us every day. Coach Radcliffe does a lot for the team and the community, and we’re very grateful for him.
Michael Eaton: Radcliffe was like the glue to everything, and he always put the team first. He’s never selfish, and I think that every coach needs to be like a Radcliffe.
Omar Albert Jr.: When we were in school playing baseball, Dr. Skanes always supported us by letting the whole school know about our team. Now, during the pandemic, she threw a big celebration that let everyone know that we had won.
What has baseball meant to you as part of your CPS experience?
Darryl Loyd III: Baseball built character for me. At a young age with tough coaches, it taught us how to carry ourselves as young men outside of school and in the real world.
Michael Eaton: It’s been a safe place. Whenever I’m on the field with the guys and the team, I’m only thinking about baseball and forget about any other problems I’m having at home or at school. When you’re out there for those seven innings, it’s like a second home.
Knowing how quickly the past four years have gone by, the team also encourages future players to slow down and take everything in. Make sure to follow Chicago Public Schools on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to meet more incredible members of the Class of 2021.