BERNARD KING SENDS A MESSAGE, PLUS

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Before we get rolling with this week's dose of "Q's and A's," let mefirst remind everyone once again that the application deadline for the ninth-annual Anne Arundel County Sun All-County Academic-Athletic Team is Friday, March 29.

All entries must be received in our office by 5 p.m. that day or postmarked by that evening. To date, we havereceived an overflow of outstanding applications.

As for extending the deadline two weeks to March 29, I got an interesting opinion on the 24-hour Sportsline, 647-2499, from Northeast High counselor Len Sokoloff.

"By extending the deadline, I think you are giving kids the wrong message, because many of these kids areapplying for college and scholarships and have to apply on time, anddon't get extra time," Sokoloff said.

"They have to realize they're big boys and girls now and need to do what has to be done when it needs to be done."

The counselor's point is certainly well-taken, but there is something else to consider. We would like to think that everyone in Anne Arundel County reads our newspaper, but that's not necessarily so.

Several years ago, we had an outstanding student-athlete who played three sports and had a 4.0 grade point average but didn't learn about our team until the two-week extension period. It seems the family did not subscribe to The Sun, and he learned about theteam from a classmate.

Also, many times over the last nine years,I have received requests for more time because certain students had additional information not yet in their hands that they wanted to include and some faculty members needed the extra time to get off a recommendation letter.

So as not to give special preference because ofone legitimate request, we give everyone the extension. That's only fair, but to reinforce Sokoloff's point, we will adhere strictly to the March 29 date.

Now let's get into those questions without answers that you guys are so kind to help me with by calling the 24-hour Sportsline. Keep those "Q's" and comments coming on 647-2499.

* Howbig of a thrill do you think it was for the Anne Arundel County Sun Boys Basketball Player of the Year Rob Wooster of Annapolis to receive a personal letter from Washington Bullets star Bernard King?

That's right, the Bullets' scoring machine wrote to the Panther junior to congratulate him on his great season and for being recruited by coaches from the nation's top three conferences: the Big Ten, the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big East.

King wrote, "Prepare yourself both on and off the court to be the best player and student that you can be.

"Setting goals and focusing in on them is a must if you are to be successful. Take it from a guy who was told by everyone that his career was over in 1985 following a career-threatening knee injury. I wouldn't buy that.

"Rob, don't just take the talent that you possess right now and sit back and be satisfied. Work daily on yourweaknesses. Don't be denied in reaching your potential because the only thing in your way is you if you don't push yourself."

Isn't itgood to know that there are some highly paid pros out there, such asKing, who would take the time to write to a budding college player even though he never had anything to do with Annapolis High but answered the request of Wooster coach John Brady to drop him a line on the importance of focusing on his goals?

* How about that Brian Toronto, the Broadneck High and Anne Arundel Community College left-handed pitcher who is on a baseball scholarship at the University of Texas, saving another game last week for the Longhorns with his incomparablepickoff move to first base?

With Texas leading, 5-2, over Kansas in the top of the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded, Toronto was summoned from the bullpen and promptly notched a save without throwing a pitch. The stylish lefty picked the runner off first to end the game, something he has done several times already this spring.

Also, in an outing against Notre Dame, Toronto struck out four battersand picked one man off in three innings.

Aren't you going to markTuesday, April 2, on your calendar for the Longhorn's game against the major-league Texas Rangers on ESPN? Nolan Ryan faces his son Reed,who is on the Texas staff, and we can hope that Toronto gets into the game and shows the nation his major-league pickoff move.

* Has the Anne Arundel Community College baseball team got the quintessential leadoff man in Frank Billings, the All-County outfielder from Chesapeake High?

Can you believe in a 24-6 romp over Cecil last week that Billings, whose job as first batter is to get on, reached base allseven times and scored five runs?

* With only two years in professional baseball even though last year was a 20-win season for him, wasn't it no surprise that the Minnesota Twins reassigned former Arundel High and University of Minnesota left-hander Denny Neagle to theirminor-league camp Monday?

Won't we see Neagle in the big show sometime this season or next?

* Have you heard that ex-major-league catcher John Stefero of Glen Burnie is going to play for the Arnold team in the Baltimore-Annapolis Over 30 Baseball League and that WMAR-TV sportscaster Keith Mills of Linthicum is playing the infield for Gary Bishop's team in Baltimore? The team went to the World Series for that age class in Arizona last summer.

Mills was a standout infielder at Brooklyn Park High, Anne Arundel and Towson State University before landing one of those gravy television jobs. The guy is an excellent athlete whom Bishop said "can still pick it around second base."

* Guess who's playing the first college baseball game at the new Joe Cannon Baseball Stadium in Harmans at noon Saturday? Would you believe University of Maryland Baltimore County?

"We had a home lacrosse game that conflicted with baseball and had to get an alternate field, so we're playing Hofstra in a doubleheader at Cannon Stadium," said UMBC assistant coach Dave "Pop" Warner, who resides in Lake Shore.

* Since we talked about football and how there were no DivisionI college prospects in this county, where are all those soccer scholarships that those who profess the practice of playing soccer 365 days a year say it garners?

* Shouldn't you mark noon Sunday, April 21, as a can't-miss sports event: the Annapolis Jaycees-sponsored Special Olympics at the U.S. Naval Academy track?

* This big "Q," and a good one at that, from Old Mill High assistant track coach Leon Walters: "Did any county athlete accomplish more this winter and get less publicity than Old Mill's Nickie Matters?"

Matters, who won the 800-meter run in the regional, was the only Class 4A sophomore, boy or girl, to win a state championship. The Patriot 10th-grader copped the 800 run at the state meet.

"Other tracksters who didn't even win county championships got their pictures in local papers or were subjects of complete articles," Walters wrote. "Nickie's total recognition for her accomplishment was one-half of a sentence in one of the county newspapers and the mere listing of only her last name in the other."

In all seriousness, I sure hope all you county track athletesappreciate the way Walters and a few others constantly fight for youby bringing to our attention all the good things you boys and girls do.

* Have you heard that the nationally known Tangerine Machine 18-and-under softball team of the county is co-hosting the Amateur Softball Association Junior Olympic national championships in Columbia (Howard County) Aug. 7-11?

Did you know in order to help defray costs for such an undertaking that Tangerine Machine is planning a baseball card show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at St. Rose of Lima Church in Brooklyn?

For more information call finance chairman Bill Bostak at 969-2986.

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