Softball has been a big part of Larry Stambaugh's life ever since his days as a 16-year-old outfielder with his church team.
But this year, it's taking a smaller slice of his time than in the past.
After last season, the 45-year-old Stambaugh stepped down as commissioner of the Carroll County Men's Softball League, a position he'dheld off-and-on since 1981.
Westminster-area resident Ray Owings is now commissioner.
Stambaugh remains co-manager, along with Bob Eyler, of the Stambaugh-Lehigh team that competes in the league's A division.
The Taneytown-area resident says he more or less talked his way into the Men's League executive chair, although unintentionally.
"I went to too many league meetings as a team rep. I opened up my mouth a couple of times, and some guys thought I should get more involved," Stambaugh recalls.
He joined the league's Board of Directors in 1977 and became president two years later.
The Men's League president runs its meetings while the commissioner handles scheduling and other day-to-day affairs.
Stambaugh occupied the commissioner's slot from 1981 to 1986.
After Rick Will, a community activistand former candidate for County Commissioner, served as softball commissioner during the 1987 season, Stambaugh again took over the post from 1988 to 1990.
Stambaugh says that the job is a demanding one.
"During the season the phone can start at 6 a.m. and go until midnight," said Stambaugh, who had to deal with the myriad of questions and complaints concerning schedules, postponements and other matters.
"You're glad for November and December," he said. "But it starts again after Christmas when teams begin thinking about the season. It's a 10-month job."
During his tenure as commissioner, he also managed his Dougherty's team, traditionally one of the stronger squads inthe league.
The workload increased last spring when Stambaugh opened his baseball card business, Seventh Inning Stretch in Taneytown.
"At that point, there weren't enough hours in a day," he said.
By midseason, Stambaugh had decided to step down.
But the commissioner's job had its rewards, he says, the most fulfilling being his role in bringing the Carroll County Sports Complex into being.
He, Will, and others lobbied public and county officials during the early 1980s.
Their most dramatic effort was a 1985 petition campaign that netted 2,000 signatures and showed the county leadership that therewas extensive support for building the complex.
Stambaugh also takes pride in the Men's League's dramatic expansion since his first year on its executive board.
It has jumped from 12 teams in 1977 to 32 now.
While he rules out running softball leagues for a while, he intends to stay in the game in a big way.
Stambaugh, whose team played in the Amateur Softball Association's national championships in 1989, wants to go there again.
He says he wants to put together a national championship-caliber team and thinks he can do it with players from Carroll County.
"I think the talent's there," Stambaugh said.
One would think Masonry Contractors manager Bill Fosterwas thrilled when his then-winless team erupted for 24 runs against Sunset Lounge in a Hampstead Lions Club girls rec softball game two Saturdays ago.
The problem is, the other team got 37.
That 37-24monster, hatched at the Lions Club fields in Hampstead, is probably the highest-scoring league game in recent memory.
It saw a total of 61 runs, 68 hits, 21 walks and high adventure almost every time theball was hit.
"I said to somebody after the game that we scored 24 runs and still lost by two touchdowns," laughed Foster.
The gamewas actually close after five innings when Masonry trailed by only a"field goal" at 27-24.
But Sunset, which scored in each inning, salted it away with eight runs in the seventh.
"The way they were scoring, we were hoping just to outscore them. It wasn't a defensive game," said Sunset manager Ted Stump.
He added that the 10- to 12-year-old girls in the league's Ponytail Division often learn to hit before they can catch, and that high-scoring games are common.
Stump's daughter Christina was one of Sunset's big hitters, with four hits, two home runs, six RBI, and five runs scored.