By TOM WILLIAMS
The last nine months have been tough emotionally for the Andrews family and the Ocean City sports community.
In November, Sue Andrews, who supported sports at all levels for most of her 90 years and was like a team mother for many teams, died. Three days later, her son, Joe, died. It was a very difficult time for Dave Andrews, one of Ocean City’s star athletes of the 1970s, and his son, Kyle, a talented athlete himself.
A little over a month ago, Dave died as a passenger in an automobile accident at the foot of the Ninth Street Bridge. Then, last week, Kyle, who – like his father and brother – had challenges and struggles throughout his life, died.
Kyle, was a key pitcher for two Ocean City teams that both reached the South Jersey Group 3 final. Kyle was 5-2 with 36 strikeouts and 12 walks in 47 innings as a junior. He was 6-1 with a 1.04 earned run average as a senior. He teamed with Beau Hall to form one of the CAL’s best pitching combinations.
Here, three of Kyle’s teammates and two of his coaches remember him.
“Reflecting on the big heart Kyle had as a person, he took that to his life as an athlete,” said Vince Terry. “He was the textbook teammate. Always giving you 110 percent – always having your back – always putting it out there. Because, win or lose, he did it all for the people around him. As his catcher, he trusted everything I asked of him and never second guessed me. Whatever we called, he did that as well as he could. And that speaks to all of his success.”
“Kyle was extremely proud to be a part of the Ocean City baseball team,” said Justin Healey. “He wore his OC baseball cap 12 months a year. It didn’t matter if it was a social or formal event, you would likely see him with his game hat on representing our program.”
“Kyle’s passion and energy in life showed in every second of every game,” said Beau Hall. “He was one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever played alongside. No matter how much we were winning or losing by he would always be up in the dugout cheering us all on. I think Kyle was able to use baseball as an outlet and really free himself on that mound.”
“Kyle was a caring individual who happened to be an outstanding athlete,” said Craig Mensinger, his OCHS coach. “What we all liked about Kyle was his great attitude and desire to win. Kyle was not only one of my favorite players but all the coaches felt the same way about him.”
One of those coaches was Andrew Bristol, now the Raiders’ head coach.
“I talked to him almost every couple of weeks and then every day after his dad died,” Bristol said. “I was at the hospital near the end. I tried very hard with Kyle but he just was hurting too much. It was really tough.”
“Kyle’s passion to play the game with Ocean City on his chest – for all of his teammates, coaches and community – was what drove him,” Terry said. “He wanted to give everyone his best, and nothing made him happier than coming off that mound knowing he did just that.”
“When reflecting with some teammates and coaches at his services,” Healey said, “we all agreed that some of Kyle’s best days were while he was on the mound pitching. He was an ultimate competitor – he was fearless and had a quick memory that worked to his advantage in big games and key moments.”
“Every day he would have a smile on his face and put everyone around him in a good mood,” Mensinger said. “He was always making us laugh or smile with his actions and words. He was an unbelievable athlete who excelled in any sport he played. He worked extremely hard to be the best he could be and was a leader that way. He had all the tools on the baseball field. He could beat you with his legs, arm or bat. On the mound he was 11-3, pitching well in two state playoff games. Another big game was his win on the mound over Buena, clinching the conference championship for us. He also frustrated Middle Township, shutting them out three times over his junior and senior seasons. He really came into his own his senior year. He was rewarded with a Cape-Atlantic League first team selection and was a Carpenter Cup all star.”
“Kyle was not just an incredible teammate,” Hall said, “but an incredible friend. He was able to leave a positive impact on not only teammates, but everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him. I’ll never forget our trip to the Carpenter Cup where we were both able to play at Citizens Bank Park. Seeing the joy that brought him was amazing. Kyle never took anything for granted and gave both baseball and life every ounce of passion he had in him. Our team would agree that it was truly a blessing having the pleasure of knowing and playing alongside Kyle.”
“I loved the interactions we had together when he played,” Mensinger said, “and also when I saw him after he graduated. I will miss him immensely.”
“Sometimes I think I believed in Kyle more than he did,” Bristol said. “Life won’t be the same without him.”
Things have been emotionally difficult in Ocean City the last nine months – especially for the Andrews family and their close friends. There were too many losses. But, somehow, this loss seems to be the toughest.
Kyle Andrews was 27.