Spring Valley High School
Class of 1975
Tommy “Skid” Rowe was a baseball player, more specifically, a pitcher – first at Spring Valley High School, then at Rockland Community College. After one year at RCC, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and went on to have an 11-year career in professional baseball. Tommy played two years of varsity baseball at Spring Valley and in his senior year was 5-1 with a 2.57 ERA. For his efforts on the mound, Tommy was selected honorable mention All-County in 1975. After graduation from Spring Valley, Tommy enrolled at Rockland Community College and pitched one year for the Rockets, after which he was drafted by the Orioles. An interesting note: While at Rockland, Tommy once pitched and won both ends of a doubleheader.
In the spring of 1977 Tommy was drafted in the second round by the Baltimore Orioles organization and embarked on a professional baseball career that enabled him to travel all over the country and compete against many future major leaguers. Tommy made the All-Star teams at every minor league level: Classes A, AA, and AAA. In 1977 Tommy’s Class A team, the Miami Orioles, won the Florida State League championship. Tommy pitched and won the final championship game beating Jim Leland’s Lakeland Tigers. During that season, Tommy (only 20 years old) pitched 200 innings on a four-man rotation, posting a career low 2.31 ERA. He also had the honor of being asked by famed Orioles manager Earl Weaver to pitch in the annual Big League-Triple A preseason game in Rochester, N.Y.
In 1980 through 1982 Tommy was on the Baltimore Orioles major league 40-man roster where he competed with and against many future major leaguers. In 1980 while a member of the Charlotte Orioles he and the team won the Southern League championship against the Memphis Chicks. Cal Ripken Jr. was his teammate that season, having made his shortstop debut with Tommy on the mound in a game at Syracuse. “Ironically, Cal made two errors that night, costing me the game on two unearned runs,” Tommy says. “I always tell people – he got better!” In 1981 Tommy pitched an exhibition game in the New Orleans Superdome against the New York Yankees and faced Reggie Jackson, Willie Randolph and Bobby Murcer. The opposing pitcher that day was Ron Guidry.
As exciting as those experiences were, they cannot top the time Tommy picked off the Yankees’ Chris Chambliss at first base in a spring training game, only to have the umpire call a balk on him. That prompted a vintage outburst from Orioles manager Earl Weaver. “Earl came out and did his thing,” Tommy says. “It was a beautiful sight. He got kicked out of the game – for me! That was the moment I knew I was one of the guys.”
Interestingly, Tommy is a part of baseball history and honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown with the fact that he pitched in the longest game in professional baseball history. It was 1981 with the Rochester Red Wings versus the Pawtucket Red Sox, both Triple A teams, and it lasted 33 innings. Also participating in that historic game were future major leaguers Cal Ripken Jr., Mike Boddicker, Wade Boggs, Marty Barrett, Rich Gedman and Bobby Ojeda. In 1982 Tommy tied a Southern League (AA) record at that time with the Charlotte Orioles with 15 complete games in 29 starts and tied another league record for most pickoffs for a right-handed pitcher.
Tommy played for four different major league organizations: the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians and New York Mets. He was fortunate enough to play with and against such stars as Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Darryl Strawberry, Ken Singleton, Mookie Wilson and Chris Chambliss during his career. After his professional playing career was over, Tommy spent one year, 1987, as a pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles organization in Miami, and had the privilege of working with such great baseball coaches as Earl Weaver, Frank Robinson, Johnny Sain and Cal Ripken Sr.
Although no longer at the professional level, Tommy still enjoys mixing it up with players many years younger. He pitches for the Pelham Mets of the Westchester Baseball Association, a team he helped capture the Stan Musial Baseball national championship in 1995 when he pitched a two-hit shutout again the top-seeded team. His career pitching record for the Mets, since starting with them in 1989, is an impressive 111-32 with a 2.35 ERA.
His fond memories of baseball hark all the way back to the Spring Valley Little League. “Of all the years I played baseball, I always felt one of my most cherished baseball and ‘Rockland’ moments was at the age of 12 with the Spring Valley Twins,” Tommy says proudly. “We won the Jawonio Tournament of Champions under the lights in West Haverstraw in 1970.” Tommy fanned an incredible 18 batters in six innings and hit two home runs in a 13-1 quarterfinal victory over the Nanuet Cubs, and struck out 13 in a 7-1 championship game triumph over the New City Braves.
“To this day I will never forget what the reporter [Sam Basson] wrote in the paper about me: ‘There’s a budding pitching star in Spring Valley who should be grabbing headlines in high school circles in a few years…tab this one and color him with a rainbow.’ Sam never knew how much those words meant to me. It inspired me and gave me confidence.”
Tommy added: “It’s funny how a moment at 12 years old can be one of my most cherished ones after playing literally thousands of games from high school through 11 years of professional baseball. It made such an impression on me that I always think about it when I’ve worked with all my kids (teaching) over the past 30-plus years. How one moment at 10, 11 12 years old can stay with them for a lifetime.” Tommy provides group and private baseball lessons to children ages 8-12.
Tommy, who is 61, lives with his wife, Nicole, daughter Jordan, 16, and son Alex, 12, in Monroe, N.Y. Another son, Nicky, died five years ago at age 22. Tommy works as an outside sales rep for Graybar Electric, a commercial and industrial lighting supplier, serving the Hudson Valley region.
Tommy was inducted into the Spring Valley High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.