To view Max Dineen’s success this baseball season, all one has to look at is his tuna fish consumption and penny collection.
Dineen is Pennsville’s senior centerfielder/pitcher who is on the radar of virtually every Major League Baseball team.
He is also the most superstitious of sorts. One of his rituals is eating tuna fish before every game. Another is having a lucky penny in his pocket.
“I don’t know how it came about, but I have always been superstitious since Little League,” he said.
It’s interesting that he always needs a good luck coin with him because Dineen could make himself a few pennies this spring.
He has earned a scholarship to Virginia Tech, but he may have a difficult decision when the MLB draft takes place from June 4 to 6.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Dineen, who throws and bats righthanded, entered the season with a high profile and has somehow lifted it higher.
That’s difficult to do after batting .580 with 11 doubles, a school-record eight triples, seven home runs, and 51 RBIs as a junior. This year he is batting .574 with nine doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 37 RBIs, 46 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases for the 13-8 Eagles.
The 13 home runs broke the school single-season record of 11 set by Mark Karr in 1988. Dineen also has become the all-time hit leader at tradition-rich Pennsville, with 150, breaking the mark of 145 set by Ed Rieger.
Pennsville senior CF-P Max Dineen, one of the top prospects in the state, talks about his team heading into the SJ Group 1 tournament. pic.twitter.com/Fdxsy6gSjT
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) May 11, 2018
Several MLB scouts have come to see him, but Dineen hasn’t felt the pressure. It’s just the opposite: The more attention he has received, the better his production has been.
“Scouts come here to watch him take batting practice and the way he stretches and every little thing he does is under the microscope, and to put up the numbers he has shows what kind of kid he is,” said Pennsville head coach Matt Karr, the nephew of the former single-season home run record holder.
Dineen was a shortstop his first three years but is now a centerfielder, and one with excellent speed. He has been timed at 6.7 seconds in the 60-yard dash and he can get up and get balls that are seemingly out of his reach.
On Wednesday he pitched for the first time this year, throwing two innings against Pennsauken. Pennsville is looking to have another arm for the state tournament.
Dineen hasn’t pitched since last high school season, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be effective. He earned the save when Pennsville beat Waldwick, 3-2, in the 2016 state Group 1 title game.
“That was the greatest feeling,” he said about winning the state title.
It has also felt good that so many MLB scouts have kept in constant contact.
“I get a couple of texts a day from different scouts,” he said.
Dineen said the Yankees, Reds, Cardinal, and Phillies are among the teams he has heard from the most. The Phillies were there to see him play in the 11-3 win over Pennsauken on Wednesday. According to Dineen, from informal conversations with scouts, he could be drafted in the first eight rounds.
Pennsville is one of the best baseball towns in South Jersey, and rarely a day goes by when Dineen isn’t asked about the draft. His way of dealing with the pressure is simply to ignore it, as much as he can.
“It’s exciting and it’s been my dream, but I don’t want it to get to my head,” he said.
So he concentrates on hitting the next pitch, which isn’t always easy since so few cross the strike zone. He has 19 walks, nine intentional.
Still, with all the scouts, the fans, the distractions, Dineen has kept his focus, hoping to get another shot at a state championship.
That means he hopes there are several more tuna fish sandwiches to eat and pennies to collect before he ends his stellar career.