In baseball, the word “teammate” holds a much deeper meaning than just someone who plays on the same team. From preparing for all 120+ games, to six-hour bus trips, and the long nights in hotels, you spend almost every day for six months with your teammates. For high school friends Craig Stem and Alex Boshers, to be able to call each other teammates again after 10 years brings feeling of nostalgia.
The pair, separated by just one year, grew up playing ball just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Despite playing at the same Little League park growing up, the one-year age gap kept them from ever playing on the same team. That would change in 2003 when the two teamed up on a middle school team at Donelson Christian Academy.
“I knew who Craig was from playing at the same Little League, but that year at Donelson was the first time we had ever gotten to play together,” said Boshers.
The players separated for a year as Stem joined the high school team, but were back together in 2005. The younger Boshers would spend his first year of high school on Junior Varsity, while Stem spent the year between the JV team and the Varsity squad. The following season the two both earned a spot on varsity, finally spending a full season as teammates.
“My junior season was the year that I really got to know Alex because that was the first time we had spent an entire season together,” said Stem. “We had a similar group of friends that we would run around with, so once we became teammates we naturally became pretty close as well.”
For the next two years the pair pitched together at the varsity level, with Stem working primarily as a starter and Boshers being used in a variety of roles on the mound. After graduating from Donelson in 2008, Stem headed to the next level, committing to pitch at the collegiate level at Western Kentucky University.
“I knew I wanted to continue to play after high school, so seeing someone from the school able to do it showed me the opportunity was out there,” said Boshers. “Western Kentucky was somewhere I was interested in potentially going to pitch, so I followed Craig’s first year there very closely.”
Although WKU didn’t work out for Boshers, the right-hander got a Division-1 offer from the University of Tennessee-Martin. Both stayed in contact throughout their college careers, with Stem eventually being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011 after his junior season. Boshers finished his collegiate career in 2014, signing his first professional contract in 2015 with the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association.
“We were the only two guys from our high school that pursued baseball at the next level,” said Stem. “It was nice to have somebody to talk to from my past that was going through the same grind of professional baseball that I was.”
Stem worked his way through affiliated ball with the Dodgers and the Miami Marlins, before coming to the Atlantic League for the first time in 2016. After three good seasons in the American Association, Boshers believed he was ready to make the jump up and join his high school buddy at this level.
“After a really good season in 2016, I had begun thinking about coming to the Atlantic League,” said Boshers. “Ultimately, I decided to wait one more season, but after last year I immediately went to the GM in Wichita and let him know that I wanted to make the jump.”
Although he didn’t specify a team in the league, Boshers was thrilled when he found out that Southern Maryland was going to be his destination. He immediately had to call his old friend and let him know the good news.
“We had spoken a little bit during the offseason, mostly about Winter Ball and him potentially visiting Tennessee,” said Stem. “He called me out of the blue one day and just said ‘Hey man, I’m coming to join you in Southern Maryland’ which was exciting news for me.”
The trade was made official in January, and for the first time in 10 years, Alex Boshers and Craig Stem could say they were teammates once more.
“I’m excited for the move, especially to be able to play with someone I know again. It’s going to be pretty nostalgic for me to lace ‘em up with Craig again and go out and compete for a championship,” finished Boshers.