By STEVE KRAH
Mark Yoder thought he was done with umpiring for 2022.
His college slate wrapped up last week with an Atlantic-10 series and he was gearing up for rotator cuff and knee surgeries.
Then he gets a call to work one more game as a substitute in the Class-A Carolina League.
Yoder was the base umpire Tuesday, May 24 as the Fredericksburg (Va.) Nationals hosted the Salem (Va.) Red Sox.
In the pregame plate meeting he saw a familiar face from days gone by in Virginia baseball circles in Jake Lowery, who is now the FredNats manager.
This game was also rehab start for right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg (the 2019 World Series MVP).
But as Yoder, who worked in the 2021 NCAA Division III World Series in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, took his spot on the field he began chatting with the Salem first baseman.
“His face looks really familiar to me but I just can’t place it,” says Yoder. “I ask him his name and he says, ‘Niko.’ There’s not that many guys named Niko.”
Yoder’s next question: “Where’d you play college ball?”
Niko Kavadas tells him: “Notre Dame.”
Come to find out Yoder (55) and Kavadas (23) both played at Penn High School — decades apart — for Greg Dikos. The latter was in his first season as Kingsmen junior varsity coach when Yoder met him.
So there they are in a professional game in Virginia.
Kavadas, who was selected in the 11th round of the 2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Boston Red Sox, smacked a two-run double off Strasburg in the top of the third inning.
Strasburg wound up throwing 2 2/3 innings and giving up three runs (all earned) and throwing 61 pitches.
The lefty-swinging Kavadas is hitting .264 (29-of-110) with three home runs, one triple, 12 doubles, 19 runs batted and 16 runs scored in 34 games.
Shortly before the game was over, Yoder came to the slugger and fellow Penn alum.
Said Yoder, “I told Niko in the ninth inning: I can’t root for you tonight but I’m rooting for you the rest of the year and the rest of your career.”