Bits & Pieces: HCYP baseball a tradition dating back over 60 years

Over the weekend I went to watch some baseball played by the Howard County Youth Program at Kiwanis-Wallas Park. And I can say that I actually enjoyed the games now even more than in the past since receiving a history and overview of the program from Bernie Dennison.

I had requested historical summaries from every sports and recreational program in the past and Bernie sent me a wonderful five-page history that goes back all the way to when the program started in 1950. To make a long story short, HCYP began at the Ellicott City Times newspaper on Main Street during a discussion with editor Charles Gerwig and two employees, Keith Fisher and Harry Walker, along with Earl Maisel.

After a trip to Willamsport, Pennsylvania in February 1952 for a meeting with Little League Founder Carl Stotz, the three returned to Howard County and a league was formed called the Howard County Little League. That same year, 60 boys had tryouts at a ball field at Ellicott City Junior High, now known as Ellicott Mills Middle School, and four teams were developed. It took off from there, switching to the current location in 1953.

Of course, there's so much more to the history. There's the importance of those volunteers who built the program and the drive over the years to make the Kiwanis-Wallas Park even better and larger. There's also the commissioners, the presidents, Norbert O'Donell who maintained the fields by himself, the introduction of electronic scoreboards, and so much more.

I believe that it is really important to know how we got where we are today with regard to programs such as HCYP. I hope that other organizations will follow suit and get those histories written and made available to the public so that those responsible for all these great sports and recreational programs can be identified while they are still alive.

Steroids in scholastic sports

I read a chilling article in a national magazine that stated, in short, that six percent of high school students are currently on some sort of steroids. That percentage seems small until you realize that upwards of 15 million students are enrolled in 9th-12th grade in this country. It makes you think, how much of that percentage is here in Howard County?

I would like to think that it doesn't happen here, but I'm sure that's what all the communities around the country say before an athlete or group of athletes is exposed.

There is only one thing I can say for certain, and that is that our administrators, coaches, teachers and counselors would immediately challenge the use of steroids by any student here.

One of the main causes of steroid use by high school athletes is the drive to earn a college scholarship by being bigger, faster and stronger than the next person. The end results, though, aren't worth it.

A scholarship isn't worth fooling around with your body's chemistry for the rest of your life.

Artie Donovan passes

One of the great thrills that I've experienced over the years was meeting Artie Donovan, the Baltimore Colts' defensive tackle during the team's greatest seasons in 1958 and 1959. Donovan, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 89, was a popular figure at sports events and was here in Howard County for an autograph session in October of 2009.

I knew then that I couldn't pass the chance up to talk with him while he signed items for his fans. I was struck by how great of a guy he was and the wonderful stories he shared. Thanks for the memories Artie, you brought wins and laughter to many.

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