By Carol Gralia, email@example.com
11:36 PM EDT, September 25, 2012
Skip McAfee is a man who cares.
He cares that the rules are followed and the dates are right.
In 1991, he cared enough to take over the task of breathing life back into the Columbia Inter-Village Co-Rec Softball League.
The league, founded by Pat Ordovensky in 1980, was originally sponsored by the Long Reach Village Association. Games were played Sunday afternoons on the fields now occupied by Long Reach High School.
The league fit in perfectly with the Columbia concept.
"It was community. Like the whole deal of meeting your neighbors at the community mail boxes. Having to venture out in the street and say 'hi' to your neighbors," said Michael Ordovensky, Pat's son.
In 1981, McAfee and his wife, Laurice, joined one of the Long Reach teams.
From its beginning, the league's premise was that it was a non-competitive activity and playing ability was secondary.
"The whole idea was that it was a social event rather than an athletic event, but we were out to play our best and do our best," McAfee said.
Everybody bats and rule No. 1 is that you don't argue with the umpire.
By the early 1990s, the league was dying. McAfee became commissioner by default in 1991, he said.
The 1992 season ended with four teams and one of them soon disbanded.
Primarily through announcements in the Columbia village newsletters, McAfee put together eight teams for 1993. The next year there were 12 teams and by the mid-1990s there were 16 teams, including some from outside Columbia.
"Sixteen was the maximum number of teams because of the number of the fields we had available," McAfee said.
Through the years, the league moved from the fields at Long Reach to those at Harper's Choice and then to its current home at Wilde Lake Middle School.
"The league was very family oriented," remembers former player Gayle Soriano. "People would bring their kids to the game, and players reffed for other teams if they were not playing at that time."
In addition to recruiting players, organizing the schedule, raking the fields, putting down lines and umpiring when needed, after each Sunday's games were over, McAfee collected all the trash and made sure the fields were left in pristine condition.
"The school system did not charge groups to use their fields," McAfee said. "I testified once before the Howard County council to charge because I thought if they charged then people would take better care of the fields."
During his 15-year tenure as commissioner, the league incorporated, got insurance, published a weekly newsletter profiling one team each issue and paid the school system for use of bathroom facilities. It also started a website.
McAfee played a big part in renaming the league the Cindy La Rue Co-Rec Softball League.
La Rue, a league member for just one year, was tragically murdered at her workplace in 1993.
"Cindy represented what our league was all about. She was an exuberant personality who enjoyed participating each week and who came to play hard, make friends and have fun," McAfee said.
During the games, La Rue would babysit the kids of the opposing team when it was on the field.
Each year, the league honors one player on each team who best exemplifies La Rue's spirit.
In 2005, McAfee relinquished his commissioner's position.
"I thought it was time to step aside and give it to someone else. Someone who had new thoughts and new ideas," he said.
"Skip was a good commissioner. He did the behind-the-scenes stuff that you'd never see and he was good at it," said Ron Beck, the league's unofficial poet laureate.
Turning over the commissioner's duties gave McAfee his Sundays back. He suddenly had time to read the Sunday newspapers and work on his hobbies, which include indexing baseball books for authors.
It also freed him up to devote more time to editing the third edition of the Dickson Baseball Dictionary (all 10,000 terms and 18,000 definitions). "A staggering piece of scholarship," the Wall Street Journal said.
McAfee didn't stay on the sidelines long. He joined the Baltimore Beltway Senior Softball League as a player and quickly became its commissioner, a post he held for five years.