by Lisa Tome
Brandon Barr and Zachary Strong have been playing baseball together for for nearly a dozen years.
The pair, both 15, finishing up their freshman year at Perryville High, are advancing toward the big leagues this summer.
They were both selected to make the Baseball Factory National Team.
They will train in the Baseball Factory's Cape Cod Select Training and Competition in July. Later in that month, they will attend the Factory Development Institute and Baseball Factory Field in Baltimore. That camp and institute are a step closer to the field of dreams for Barr and Strong.
They will be exposed to big league players and college scouts and coaches as well as play with top players from all over the nation.
Zachary's father, Brian Strong, said this is the path to the culmination of a dream for his son. "For the longest time he waited to play high school baseball. He started every JV game and was pitching for the varsity in the playoffs," said Brian Strong.
The pair also play on a travel ball team, the Conowingo Crush, where Brian Strong and Brandon's father, John, are the coach and manager. Zachary is also a little league all star.
"Brandon loves baseball," said John Barr. "He eats and sleeps baseball." Brandon was also tapped to play in the Ripken Tournaments as a 12-year-old.
"Baseball Factory builds on everything. They've got recruiters and scouts. That helps them make a name for themselves for those who live in small towns," said Brian Strong.
Both boys are also active in the community. Strong has helped with the Challenger Little League. He has been a Boy Scout and served as a base umpire with Perryville Little League.
Barr is also a former scout, helps out at Perryville Fire Company events, and serves at Sons of the American Legion functions at Post 135.
"This means everything," said Zachary Strong. "Here's my opportunity to go to the next level."
"We're hoping to bring back a championship," said Brandon Barr. "And I want to pass on what I learn."
The pair are also delighted to be taking the journey together. "It means everything that we're doing this together. I don't know anyone else I'd do it with. We help each other be better players," said Barr.
In order to attend the camps, each of the boys needs to raise $6,000 in less than 60 days. To donate: Send to Angela Strong 409 Sumpter Drive, Perryville, Md. 21903. Make check payable to the Strongs or Baseball Factory. For Brandon Barr, make check payable to Rachel Barr or Baseball Factory and send to 494 Rock Run Road, Port Deposit, Md. 21904.