FORT MYERS, Fla. - Hall of fame Sarasota (Fla.) High School baseball coach Clyde Metcalf heard the distant rumblings of thunder and studied the ominous storm clouds building just to the east of City of Palms Park early Monday afternoon, and put on his meteorologist cap.
"Often times what happens here this early in the day, the sea breeze and the interstate (I-75) kind of meet and it will hold it," said Metcalf, a life-long resident of Sarasota, about 100 miles north of here on the Gulf Coast, just south of Tampa-St. Pete. He knows a little bit about Florida Gulf Coast weather patterns.
"Now, as the days goes on and when they collide, we're going to get crushed," he continued. "Hopefully we can get this one in; that's all I care about."
Metcalf had made the trip down I-75 that morning to lead his ManaSota Baseball Club team into action against Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico in each team's third pool-play game at the Perfect Game 18u BCS Finals. The rain held off long enough for Team Mizuno-PR to pull out an 8-4 victory, and both teams then got ready for another round of three pool-play games set to begin Tuesday.
Weather prognostications aside, Metcalf is as close to a high school baseball coaching legend as you can get in the high school baseball-crazy state of Florida.
He owns a 31-year head coaching record of 761-205 at Sarasota High and has won six state championships - all in Florida's big-school classification - with three more runner-up finishes. Sarasota HS was awarded mythical national championships in 1989 and 1994 under Metcalf and has produced eight first round MLB draft picks.
Metcalf, who has also been Sarasota High's athletic director for the past 20 years, has been named national high school coach of the year three times and was inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2010.
"We have a lot of tremendous support in the community," he said modestly. "A lot of our former players give us a lot of support and I think it helps that I've been there a long time and you get that consistency, but it's really a good community program."
He now has another jewel to secure in his crown. Metcalf will be the head coach for the East Team at the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings, scheduled for Aug. 12 at PETCO Park in San Diego. This year's 10th annual event features the top 46 prospects in the class of 2013 from high schools coast-to-coast.
"When I got the phone call initially from (PG's) Ben Ford, it was a big surprise to me, but a very pleasant surprise. I'm really looking forward to it," Metcalf said Monday. "I think it's going to be a tremendous experience for me and I know it's going to be an unbelievable experience for those young men that are participating.
"It's always nice to go out and put on a uniform with guys that you can look at and say that's the future of our game, and it gives you a kind of tie-in to follow them."
Another hall of fame high school coach, Cherry Creek (Colo.) head coach Marc Johnson, will guide the West Team.
Both Metcalf and Johnson were selected as head coaches for the PG All-American Classic based on what they've accomplished at the high school level. Metcalf considers himself blessed.
"We've been very fortunate to have had some great players come through our program and I've been fortunate to have worked with some great coaches," he said. "What we've tried to do is build a program that's consistent in what we do, and we've tried to progress with the times and make changes that we've felt are necessary. But out biggest thing is to put out a quality product every year."
Metcalf brought teams to the PG BCS Finals for the last five or six years under the banner of the Sarasota Baseball Club. This year he worked with Manatee High School head coach Dwayne Strong - his former assistant at Sarasota - to form a team comprised of top level prospects from both schools. The new incarnation is called the ManaSota Baseball Club.
The three most high-profile guys on the team are Cord Sandburg (2013, Bradenton, Fla.) from Manatee High, and Jason Sierra (2013, Sarasota) and Dylan White (2013, Sarasota) from Sarasota High. Sandburg is a top Mississippi State football recruit who has expressed publicly his desire to play baseball if the 2013 draft treats him well. He will also be on Metcalf's East Team roster at the PG All-American Classic presented by Rawlings.
Sierra has committed to Vanderbilt and White to the University of Miami.
Metcalf took time to take in the scene at City of Palms early Monday afternoon and offered that the players' increased participation in summer and fall baseball over the past decade has been among the biggest changes he's seen during his long tenure at Sarasota High. And, he was quick to add, that's a good thing.
"It's really one of the biggest changes I've seen, and I give Perfect Game a lot of credit for that," he said. "It gives our kids a chance to come out and play people from different areas - people that they maybe have never seen before - that are talented. To go out and compete against them really and truly just gives our kids an opportunity to elevate their game."
Metcalf sees a lot of advantages and very few disadvantages to having his players participate at events such as the 18u BCS Finals. He especially likes the exposure they provide for the many players on his ManaSota roster who hope to one day play either collegiately or professionally.
"There are a lot of college and pro guys at one venue where they come in and take a look at our kids," he said. "Over the years, it's really helped a lot of our kids in their quest for a college scholarship."
He noted that his more high-profile prospects at Sarasota High have been playing travel ball for years and he encourages them to do so. He also encourages them to be at the Sarasota High workouts Monday through Thursday and said when those players are in town, they are always in attendance.
And there is another aspect to this whole thing Metcalf thinks is beneficial.
"I really do like my guys playing for different coaches, seeing different coaching styles and meeting kids from different schools. I think it's a very positive thing," he said. "As a high school coach, I've got my guys, really, the year around; I'm with my guys enough. If they have the opportunity to go play for what I would consider to be a quality travel team, I would certainly support that I want them to do that."
On Aug. 12, after the first pitch is thrown at the Perfect Game All-American Classic presented by Rawlings at the San Diego Padres' beautiful PETCO Park, Metcalf plans to sit back and enjoy the experience, just like everyone else. He certainly doesn't plan being accused of "over-managing" like some big-league managers have been accused of during the MLB All-Star Game.
"There is no approach," he said when asked how he'd try to manage the game. "It's a showcase for the kids, and my approach will be whatever (Perfect Game tells) me it should be. But having been fortunate enough to have coached in some other all-star games, what I usually tell the kid is, 'This is your showcase and you need to just go out there, and if you can steal, steal; if you feel you can bunt, bunt.
"Show every aspect of your game to let the scouts know every positive aspect of your game. That to me is what that's all about."
Perfect Game All-American Classic