Not Your Average Joe: Aberdeen’s Official Scorer and Professional Multi-Tasker
By Catherine Winchester
Aberdeen IronBirds’ official scorer, former MLB bat boy, Orioles scout, high school baseball coach, Hickory Fountain Green baseball Chairman, district sales manager for the Maryland State Lottery; Joe Stetka’s resume continues to grow as his free time dwindles.
With Stetka’s father being a part of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and his brother, Bill, being a part of the Baltimore Orioles organization, baseball has always been a part of Stetka’s life. It makes sense that he considers Ripken Stadium his “summer home” and enjoys being able to spend all summer working at Ripken Stadium.
In addition to being the official scorer for the IronBirds’ games every night, Stetka throws batting practice for the team before games. During the summer, Stetka sometimes finds himself arriving at the stadium for work at 8 a.m. and leaving work well after 10 p.m. at night (or however long the game decides to last).
Stetka works three Ripken baseball camps a year and uses his experience as a former Major League bat boy to help with orientation for the bat boys for the Cal RipkenWorld Series, held at Cal Sr’s Big Yard in August.
It is clear to see that his appreciation for the game is on a whole other level, as an Orioles scout for five years, Stetka enjoys seeing players start out and progress to make it to the big leagues. Stetka says, “Being a scout and seeing guys come up, I’ve seen guys make it to the majors, not just IronBird guys but other players like Melky Cabrera…now he made the Al-Star game and won MVP.”
Stetka’s favorite part of being able to work in Aberdeen “is just being involved in the game, I just love everything about baseball and am happy to be a part of it, I love being around this ballpark. Harford County has the greatest name of baseball in its backyard”. Commenting on the atmosphere Stetka says, “It’s a fun place to be, there is not a bad seat in the house.”
Bill Ripken has often joked with Stetka saying that he will never hire Stetka because he already does everything around the stadium that he wants Stetka to.
As if Stetka doesn’t already lead a busy life at Ripken Stadium, he leads an even busier life outside of the stadium.
Stetka is also involved with the Maryland Oriolelanders high school show-case team, a fall showcase squad sponsored by the Orioles. Maryland’s premier high school players travel every weekend, from late summer to early fall, to numerous locations on the east coast where they compete. Oriolelander alumni include Mark Teixeira and Gavin Floyd.
Stetka says, “Baseball is a great game and teaches so many life lessons,” lessons he makes sure to implement throughout the Hickory-Fountain Green Baseball Program. Stetka is approaching his twentieth year with Hickory-Fountain Green Baseball in Harford County, where he holds the position of Chairman. The organization is comprised of over 600 kids in age groups from beginner players (5-6) to advanced players (13-15). In 2011, the program managed 50 successful in-house teams and travel teams.
Along with being the Chairman of the Hickory-Fountain Green baseball program, Stetka is entering his tenth year coaching high school baseball in Harford County. Stetka spent eight years coaching at C. Milton Wright and two years coaching at John Carroll.
Stetka also works full time for Maryland State Lottery as a district sales manager.
Despite Stetka’s hectic and demanding schedule he takes pride in all of his work and would not have it any other way and says, “what the Ripken family has done for baseball is pretty fascinating and just to be a small part of it, I’m very blessed.“