AACC Athletic Director looks back on baseball days


Dan Elson

Athletic Director Duane Herr played outfield and pitched for the AACC Pioneers from 2005-2007. He hit .352 with one home run and 41 RBI’s in 73 career games. Herr finished 6-3 with a 3.22 ERA and 74 strikeouts. Herr also hit two playoff homers.

Dan Elson, Sports Editor

Second-year transfer studies student Duane Herr slid safely into home plate and scored the go-ahead run late in the playoffs against West Virginia University Potomac State College in May 2007, even though the AACC Pioneers would go on to lose 7-6.

“We all kind of cheered at home plate after scoring that run,” Herr, a former outfielder and pitcher who is AACC’s athletic director, said. “We ended up losing that game in the late innings, but I had a picture of that. I just kind of look back at that picture, and you can feel the feelings again. So just looking back at [the] playoffs — what a fun time it was [to have the] opportunity to play [and] compete at that level.”

AACC changed its sport name from the Pioneers to the Riverhawks in 2015. In 2006, head baseball coach Mark Palmerino Jr., who recruited Herr from Glen Burnie High School, led the Pioneers to a 25-20 record. The next season, the Pioneers began with head coach Lance Mauck, before switching to Gary Gubbings. The 2007 team finished 26-19.

Herr, a left-handed batter, finished his two-year career in 2007 with a .352 batting average, 68 hits, one home run and 41 runs-batted-in in 73 games. He also stole 20 bases in 27 attempts. Herr, also a right-handed pitcher, won six of his nine decisions, finishing with a 3.22 earned-run-average and 74 strikeouts. Herr also hit two career postseason home runs.

Palmerino Jr., a head assistant at Jemicy Upper School, said the Pioneers were always in the good part of the lineup when Herr stepped up to the plate.

“He could hit for power and he could hit for average,” Palmerino Jr. said. “He could do a little bit of everything because he was such a good athlete. So I was just super excited to have him in anytime he was at the plate. You knew you were going to get a good at bat.”

Three years later, Herr, who played two more years of college ball at Towson University and held an internship with AACC Athletics, became an assistant baseball coach for the Pioneers–the former name of the Riverhawks. 

He said one of his favorite moments in his first year as a Pioneer was playing with “a lot of really talented players. We had … an all-star team [in] the county. … One [player] in particular got drafted in the MLB draft and played Division I. [Before that, we had] a couple of guys who could have played Division I. It was just a really great learning experience for me to play with some guys who were that talented. We got knocked out of the playoffs pretty early. So that was unfortunate, but it was still a really great group.”

Herr said he remembered “pitching and we faked the errant throw with a runner on second and the kid took off running to third and we picked him off at third and I kept the ball. And I just remember practicing that play and our shortstop hated the play. [He said,] ‘This will never work’ and we did it in a 2-1 game and it worked one game. I just remember that being kind of funny, but ironic.”

Herr, who is from Glen Burnie, said his second year with the team was a “leadership opportunity.”

“I felt like I took a leadership role,” Herr said. “With that [2007 spring] team, we actually performed better. [We went] a little bit further in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we still came up a little bit short, but [we] won a couple of games in the playoffs and made some noise. I really learned a lot … during that year.”

One of Herr’s Pioneers teammates, former relief and closing pitcher Freddie Peters, said Herr was “always hard working.”

“His heart was always in the games,” Peters, a former business student, said. “He was absolutely a positive asset to the team and was consistent. He was definitely a power player.”

Peters pitched 32.1 career innings and finished with a 4-0 record, a 3.08 ERA, 24 strikeouts and six saves.

Peters said he remembers Herr’s “great arm.”

“I [always] looked forward to him throwing the ball as hard as he could because he really could throw hard.” 

Peters noted playing with Herr was a honor and “some of the best times of my life.”

Out of the two positions he played–outfield and pitcher, Herr said he preferred outfield. 

“I like playing every day,” Herr, who majored in sports management at Towson, noted.

Herr started playing baseball at 4 years old.

“My dad was really big into baseball,” Herr said. … “I just remember getting out of school. [I remember how] he would have the gloves, and we’d go play catch in the front yard. He was my coach all through Little League. It’s just what we enjoyed doing together.”

Herr, who has served as athletic director since 2014, said the relationships in the Athletic Department and with student athletes are what keep him coming back to the job.

“I love what I do,” Herr said. “The experience I had as a student athlete [and] the opportunity I was given — [is] what I want to provide to our student athletes. … [I] want Anne Arundel to be a place that welcomes students and provides a great experience.”

Still, Herr said, “One of the challenges we all face across the county is through recruitment and getting student athletes who want to continue their athletic career.”

One of Herr’s former professors called him “a good student.” 

“He was a pretty serious guy [and] he always had a smile on his face,” English professor Steve Canaday, who taught Herr in fall 2005, said.

Canaday also said it’s important to have a former athlete as the athletic director.

“I just feel [he’s] been great for the college, and I hope that Duane would say it’s been great for him to stay where he started out and growing the program,” Canaday said. “And knowing that culture, knowing the tradition, knowing the history only makes it better for all of us.”

Assistant Athletic Director of Communications Hillary Fisher said she’s fortunate to have Herr in the role.

“I can look up to him and I feel like I can ask him any question whether I think it’s a stupid question or not a stupid question,” Fisher said. “He knows all the answers and if he for some reason he doesn’t, he finds the answers and knows who to ask about things.”

Fisher added she wants athletes to know Herr “cares so much about every student athlete, about every team [and he cares about] the signs on the walls, he cares about everything. He wants it to be the best that we can provide for our student athletes.”

Outside of the job, Herr is a husband, a father of three and plays co-ed basketball one night a week. In earlier years, he bowled in the Junior Olympics.