Spring Grove grad Hoiles following in his father’s footsteps

ABERDEEN, Md. – Like father, like son.

Dalton Hoiles was just a little guy, around two or three years old, when his dad Chris Hoiles was playing for the Baltimore Orioles.  Dalton doesn’t remember much about those days, but he’s heard the tales.

"Dad would always tell me stories how I was running in the locker room after a game and would steal a bunch of seeds and ice cream," said the younger Hoiles.  "I see pictures all the time when I was younger on the field with him, in an Orioles jersey, and ever since I was a little kid, I always just wanted to play for the Orioles like my dad did."

Considered one of the all-time best Baltimore catchers, Chris Hoiles played for the Birds from 1989 to 1998, and was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2006.

Following in his father's footsteps, Dalton signed a free agent contract with the Orioles in June of this year.  A few days later, the 22-year-old outfielder made his professional debut with Baltimore's short-season single-A club, the Aberdeen IronBirds.

But the road to Aberdeen started at Spring Grove, where Hoiles played for Rockets head coach Eric Zeigler.

"I was the new kid, I moved there in 8th grade," said Hoiles.  "Coach Zeigler really had faith in me as a new guy and everyone else took me in pretty good.  I loved playing for the team, they're still my best friends."

After an outstanding collegiate career at Shippensburg University, Hoiles thought he might be picked in this year's Major League Baseball draft.  But the call never came.

"It kind of hurt Dad and I a little bit," Hoiles said.  "But you just put that extra chip on your shoulder and work a little harder."

A few weeks later, Orioles vice-president Brady Anderson invited Hoiles and his father to Camden Yards for a workout.  Apparently Hoiles impressed the team, because they offered him a contract that day.

"We went underneath to the locker room, and Dad knew it before I did, but he wanted Brady to tell me himself," said Hoiles.  "As soon as we started talking to him and he said they were going to sign me, I honestly didn't know what to do.  Still to this day, words can't really describe the feeling, especially coming from Brady Anderson who was my dad's teammate."

At the plate, Hoiles definitely has some pop in his bat.  When Aberdeen visited Brooklyn a few weeks ago, Hoiles broke the Cyclones scoreboard.  Then the following day at Tri-City, the ValleyCats had a message for Hoiles on their scoreboard -- Please Don't Hit Me.

In the field, Hoiles has been all over the map.  He rotated through almost every position in high school and college.

With the IronBirds, Hoiles has been playing mostly right field, even though the Aberdeen roster has him listed as a catcher, just like his dad.

"Obviously it's in my bloodline to be a catcher," Hoiles said.  "Unfortunately I guess my body size isn't big enough.  Catchers require a little more width, but I don't really have that, I'm a little skinny guy.  But we're going to use my speed to my advantage so they just put me in the outfield to run down balls."

Hoiles wears #23 for the IronBirds, the same number his dad wore for the Orioles twenty years ago.

"He got to see me on Opening Day with my new jersey #23," said Hoiles.  "He was just grinning from ear to ear, it was awesome.  To wear #23, it even makes it ten times more awesome."

Hoiles joins two other York County players, both from West York, who are also making their professional baseball debuts this summer -- Cash Gladfelter and Brett Kinneman.

Gladfelter plays for the  Everett (Washington) AquaSox, the Seattle Mariners short-season single-A team, while Kinneman plays for the West Virginia Black Bears, the Pittsburgh Pirates short-season single-A team.