by John Vittas
It’s been over 22 years since John Rayne no-hit Virginia to cap the 1992 Maryland baseball season. With that performance, Rayne set the Maryland all-time wins record at an even 20 games, ending his storied Terps’ career on the highest of notes.
But after two decades on the top of that wins list, Rayne finally has company.
Enter Mike Shawaryn, a talented and excitable right-hander from South Jersey. Armed with a reliable three-pitch mix and a noticeable pair of glasses, Shawaryn has begun his career 20-4. A week after tying the record, Shawaryn has a chance to break Rayne’s mark tonight in West Lafayette against Purdue – as just a sophomore.
“The ability to do it in a year and a half, that’s amazing,” Rayne said Friday morning. “I’m thoroughly impressed with his ability and the fact that he’s been able to do it so quickly.”
Now settled just a half-hour drive north of College Park in Ellicott City, Rayne makes a point to come down and see a couple of Terps’ games every year, sometimes bringing his young children along. It was in 2014 that Rayne got to see Shawaryn pitch in person for the first time.
“What I was really amazed with was his control,” Rayne said. “He seems like he has the ability to put his pitches anywhere he wants them at any time. If you can do that and throw relatively hard like he does, then you’re going to be successful.”
Rayne watched Shawaryn tie his record on television last Friday. While Shawaryn didn’t throw a no-hitter to accomplish win No. 20, as Rayne did, Shawaryn did toss eight shutout innings while striking out a career-high 13 batters against a powerhouse program in Cal State Fullerton.
“I think he’s fantastic,” Rayne added. “There’s no question about it. To lose [the record] to a guy that I think is going to one-day pitch in the Major Leagues, there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not ashamed of that at all. I’m actually very happy for him.”
“It means a lot,” Shawaryn said about Rayne’s support. “I know the hard work that got him to those 20 games, and to be in the same sentence as him is an honor. Records are really hard to break, so to be in this position is humbling.”
While Rayne and Shawaryn will always be linked in the record books, the similarities between the two pitchers end there.
“I didn’t throw 90 miles an hour like Mike does,” Rayne said. “I was more in the low-80s. I was a guy who relied on control and movement of my fastball and getting people out with my breaking pitches.”
Before Shawaryn came barreling up the school’s wins list, Rayne (20 wins) was situated at the top of the list with his long-time teammate, Charles Devereux (18 wins). Rayne and Devereux came to College Park together and pitched alongside one another for four seasons.
“It was nice to have two guys that played in the same era sitting right there on the top of the list,” Rayne said. “We felt like it was a pretty nice accomplishment.”
Devereaux still holds the school record in appearances with 89, while Rayne is second in program history with 294 innings pitched.
“Charles was an upper-80s, low-90s kind of guy,” Rayne said. “Back in the day, 90 miles an hour was about as good as you were going to see.”
While Shawaryn has been the catalyst of the Terps’ turnaround the last two years, Rayne and Devereux were part of a turnaround of their own. After six straight losing seasons, the 1991 team set the school record in wins, winning 29 games under first year head coach Tom Bradley, thanks in large part to the efforts of Rayne and Devereux.
“A win [for a pitcher] is really important,” Rayne said. “There are some people with modern statistics that are downplaying the win. But I think it shows the ability to stay in games late. [Mike] seems to pitch seven, eight, nine innings and doesn’t have to rely on his bullpen. He’s been able to shut down the opponent and give his team a chance every time he pitches.”
Rayne, now a Maryland football season ticket holder, was honest about his record, saying that he never expected it to last this long.
“I’m absolutely surprised it lasted this long,” Rayne said. “I honestly never thought that it would be 22, 23 years later for it to go down.”
When asked what kind of advice he would offer to Shawaryn, Rayne said:
“I would say just keep doing what you’re doing. He’s obviously a very hard worker. But it’s not going to be as easy as it has been. He’s going to face some tough times and some adversity. But he’s got this great base of success that he can always lean back on. He can get though any adversity that comes his way if he just keeps working hard.”
While some former athletes sometimes get bitter when seeing their career accomplishments out-done, Rayne’s feelings could not be more the contrary.
“I’m happy for Mike. I think it’s a great accomplishment,” said Rayne. ” I think he’s a great guy. I think you’re going to see Mike pitching in the Major Leagues one day. I would almost guarantee it.”
Mike Shawaryn after tying the record in wins against Cal State Fullerton: