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B. J. Surhoff
The former No. 1 pick and Orioles standout has found a second sporting passion as a swimming dad
The No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft, B.J. Surhoff excelled at every fielding position. Eventually, during a 19-year career in which he also hit 188 home runs, he made his mark at third base for the Orioles as part of what baseball historian Bill James called "the best infield" of the 1990s.
In recent years a new generation of Surhoffs has maintained that link to athletic excellence in Baltimore—albeit not on the dirt of the diamond but rather in the chlorinated water of the pool. B.J. and his wife, Polly, a former breaststroker on the U.S. national team, have four children, all swimmers who came up through the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, the same program that produced Michael Phelps. Says Surhoff, "My kids did a bunch of different sports and decided that's the one they wanted to do."
They have certainly made a splash. As a freshman at Texas in 2010, elder son Austin, 19, won the 200 IM at the NCAAs. As for daughters Kendall, 16, and Jordan, 15, Surhoff says that both aspire to swim at the national level. Son Mason, 18, swims in the Special Olympics and has formed a close bond with Phelps. Ten years ago B.J. and Polly joined with other families in the Baltimore area to form Pathfinders for Autism, a foundation designed to be a resource for families with autistic children, like Mason. "We're trying to help people navigate to get whatever information they need," says Surhoff, who serves as the foundation's president.
As for baseball, Surhoff spent a few weeks in 2008 and '09 as an Orioles spring training instructor, but says that it's no longer his athletic ambition that drives him, but that of the next wave of Surhoffs. "Life heads in the direction of your kids," he says, "and you move on."