Lawrence Frank Strong, 73, has been a fixture with Havre de Grace Little League for the past 34 years.
Go to Stancill Park this spring, and there’s a good chance that you’ll see him either coaching the senior boys team, working the concession stands, or mowing the six fields on a John Deere zero-turn riding mower (he volunteers as the official groundskeeper for the league).
Strong, a retired Chrysler plant employee who worked on the assembly line for 35 years, said he loves working outside and helping transform youth into responsible adults.
“I love working with kids,” said Strong, who goes by Larry, and has also served on the league’s board of directors for the past 33 years.
Strong said he most looks forward to opening day, April 7, which attracts 3,000 people.
“It’s the most exciting day of the year for Little League because there are so many people there,” he said, adding that in addition to the opening pitch, there is an annual ceremony, which announces the teams and their managers and the inductees to the Hall of Fame. “The ceremony is really nice.”
The league celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.
“Good people running it,” Strong said when asked about the key to the league’s longevity. “We’ve had a good president. Some of the old guys are still there. And that helps.”
We talked to Strong about his love of baseball — his favorite player is Brooks Robinson — and why he shows no signs of stopping his volunteer efforts with the league.
What attracted you to baseball? I just liked the sport. It always was my favorite sport. I like coaching. I just like working with kids. Making them better in life. It’s more than about baseball. It’s about being nice young men and having respect for everybody. A lot of kids don’t have respect for grownups. I like to watch them develop into respectable young men.
How did you get involved with Little League? I signed my youngest son, Roy Henry, up. My friend, John Walker, got me to start coaching. He managed a team then, and then he got bad health and I took the team over after the first year.
How long have you been the groundskeeper for Havre de Grace Little League? I’ve been the full-time groundskeeper for the past 33 years. I take care of the fields. I do just about everything: Mow all the grass, work the snack bar and everything. The main thing is to take care of everything. It’s all volunteer. There ain’t no money involved. It keeps me busy. I just like to see the kids get to play on a good field. I didn’t get to do that when I was young. We played on cow fields.
What’s the key to keeping the grounds organized? It’s just like mowing the lawn at home. You have to stay with it. You have to do it twice a week.
How did it feel to have the biggest field at Stancill Park named after you?
It was emotional. I had no idea. It was really nice. We had the ceremony with all the kids lining up on the field. They brought the sign out with my name on it. I was really surprised. It brought tears to my eyes, especially with all my grandchildren and family there.