Saints hurler chooses University of Maine

An East Passyunk Crossing student will toss fastballs
for a New England institution.

By Joseph Myers

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted Nov. 29, 2012

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Joe Kinee hopes to clutch more championship plaques this season. 

Photo by Greg Bezanis

Just as he has needed to ponder which pitches will baffle batters while manning the mound for Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St., Joe Kinee found himself contemplating which postsecondary site would best benefit his brain. The All-Catholic hurler shook off interest from three suitors to select the University of Maine, signing with the America East Conference member Nov. 14. Before heading to New England, though, the senior standout hopes to add a third consecutive Catholic League championship plaque to his East Passyunk Crossing school’s walls.

“Each school left me with a good taste in my mouth,” the resident of the 2400 block of South 16th Street said last week. “I began to become nervous about which I would choose.”

The 18-year-old learned of Maine’s interest during the summer through participation in the All Star Baseball Academy. He made his official visit Sept. 28, with his observations leaving Holy Cross, Saint Joseph’s and Villanova universities as disappointed pursuers. 

“The feelings were intense when I got there, and the whole atmosphere drew me in,” Kinee said. “I really saw it as a place where I could flourish as a student athlete.”

While his diamond duties will center on making the Black Bears contenders, he will focus on physical therapy as his major, advancing his scientific sympathies. Though he also calls on math to build his analytic skills, Kinee enjoys civics, too, with three years as class president helping him to augment his outgoing nature. The teenager has devoted much care to developing a diverse definition of a leader, using classrooms and fields as work spaces. He has excelled in both, with ranking 11th in his class, gaining entrance into the National Honor Society and receiving distinction as a Millay Scholar proving the former and earning First-Team nods as a pitcher and an infielder cementing the latter.

“I would say my proudest individual accomplishments are my All-Catholic honors,” Kinee, whose pitching ledger included a 6-0 Blue Division record, said. “As for the team, it’s been great knowing so many people committed to winning.”

The dedicated competitor began his courtship of victories during a six-year stint at the Delaware Valley Youth Athletic Association, 2840 S. 18th St. He discovered an interest in pitching at age 11 and began working with former Major League pitcher and 1983 St. John Neumann High School alumnus Frank DiMichele in eighth grade.

“Frank has changed me from a thrower into a pitcher,” Kinee said of the southpaw, who appeared in four games for the California Angels, now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in ’88. “I’ve responded to his message about remaining composed no matter the circumstances.”

A year into his tutelage, the confident athlete began his secondary career, earning a varsity roster spot as a freshman. Joining a loaded squad, he saw his opportunities increased in his sophomore campaign, which saw the Saints down Monsignor Bonner 3-1 to capture the parochial prize and conquer Franklin Towne 6-1 to win the Class AAA City Title. In the latter at McNichol Field, 26th and Moore streets, Kinee tossed two shutout innings, punching out five outclassed hitters.

“That year gave me confidence to have a great junior season, making me believe I could be someone to lean on,” he said. 

With new coach Mike “Big Zoom” Zolk guiding the action, Kinee and a senior-laden unit again scaled the Catholic League mountain, overcoming favored La Salle College High School 5-4 for their second straight extra-inning title.

“What a wild way to win it, too!” Kinee said of his bunt that drew an errant throw allowing Joe Lolio to cross home plate.

Following a 13-0 humiliation of Philadelphia Electrical and Technology in the City title game at Ashburn Field, 20th Street and Pattison Avenue, Kinee opened the state playoffs with a 2-0 win over Twin Valley, though he needed to work out of three bases-loaded jams.

“I approached that game like all others, concentrating on minimizing distractions and getting outs any way I can,” he said.

Kinee also drove in the game-winning run with a single, ingratiating himself even more to Zolk.

“He’s a great kid who loves to compete, who is relentlessly hardworking and who will do anything I ask him to do for our school and program,” the coach said. “Kids feed off Joe’s competitive fire, as do I.”

Because of his pedigree, Zolk believes Kinee will be a most valuable player candidate and a chief mentor for their young group.

“I can’t think of a better role model on and off the field to help our young kids learn not only about our program but also about hard work, commitment and being just a good person,” Zolk said.

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1. Anonymous said... on Nov 29, 2012 at 02:40PM

“The Black bears are lucky to have You !”

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