HIS WORK ETHIC PROVES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Some of us get bored and throw a Kevin Costner tape in the VCR, something like "The Untouchables." Tut O'Hara might get bored once in a while, but the only way he puts in a Costner tape is if it's "Field ofDreams."

But it's more likely that on any given day in the winter, Tut is entertaining himself with a George Brett or Tony Gwynn tape on hitting or watching an Orioles rerun.

Meet a real baseball nut of his own choosing and a guy much more serious and disciplined than the old-time radio character for whom hewas named.

His father, Charles "Tut" O'Hara Sr., handed down the nickname that had been bestowed upon him by an admiring aunt who was fond of his mischievous nature.

It was back in the days when therewas no TV, let alone VCRs, and families gathered in the parlor to listen to the radio. A show had a bad little boy on it named Tut, and that kid reminded the aunt of O'Hara Sr. He kept the name only until his son took it over with his antics and earned it for a lifetime.

Most people don't know him by anything but Tut, and of course, coach.

Coaching the sport he loves and satisfying his appetite to learn more about it, Tut has made baseball a year-round thing.

The 31-year-old O'Hara is an assistant baseball coach at Arun

del High and with the defending national American Legion champion Mayo Post No. 226. He also runs Gambrills community teams in the fall and summer.

"Tut has made it a 12-month-a-year thing, and I've never seen anybodywork as hard at teaching baseball as he has," said Arundel and Mayo head coach Bernie Walter.

"He got into it for the love of it and wants to learn everything he can about the game. He has become an excellent teacher of baseball through hard work."

It was five years ago that O'Hara decided he wanted to take coaching baseball seriously and applied for the junior varsity basketball and baseball positions at Arundel High. Walter, the school's athletic director, knew O'Hara from his playing days at Mount St. Joseph High in Baltimore, Anne Arundel Community College, the University of Baltimore and with the Gambrills Athletic Club.

"I knew Tut, and he had been coaching for a short time at Spalding when he came in one day to talk about the JV baseball and basketball jobs at Arundel," Walter said. "I always liked the way he played hard and sensed that he would be a hard worker."

Walter read Tut well.

O'Hara got a taste of coaching in 1982 running the fall program at Anne Arundel Community College and made up hismind then he wanted to pursue being a teacher of baseball. It didn'ttake the 1977 grad of Maryland Scholastic Association champion St. Joe to realize that the best way to get into coaching as a non-schoolteacher is to have your own business.

"I started my own landscapingbusiness in 1983, and Old Mill's third-base coach Mike Rose is my partner," said O'Hara. "It gets a little tough when we play Old Mill, but we get through it.

"I knew in order to coach full-time that youhave to have a flexible job and possibly run your own business. I love what I'm doing."

And what he is doing is like holding down morefull-time jobs, although he doesn't think so, because he loves everysecond.

He runs the junior varsity program at Arundel, but this year spent equal time with the varsity, turning the JV reins over to his assistant, Gary Carpenter, in his absence. Carpenter, a longtime coach in the Crofton youth program, teamed with O'Hara to lead the Wildcats to the county JV championship and a 16-2 record.

Winning theJV title was especially gratifying to O'Hara, who reaped the benefits of his hard work. It was the first year Arundel had a ninth-grade class and it was a group of kids O'Hara had worked hard with for the previous two years.

While in junior high, those athletes played summer and fall baseball under the guidance of O'Hara, and by the time they got to high school, everybody knew what to expect. They sort of grew together as a family and now have those varsity days to look forward to.

The nucleus of that county JV champion played on the Mayo Juniors 15-and-under team coached by O'Hara in the summer. Many of them are back with the current Mayo Juniors while some others like pitcher Brian Sands (8-0 on JV) and catcher Kurt Odar are playing with the Bill Nevin-coached Glen Burnie Patriots.

Playing in the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association 16 and Under Joe E. Brown League and the 15 and Under Babe Ruth League in Prince George's County, the Mayo Juniors (20-6 overall) are mostly 13- to 15-year-olds.

Most of the Mayo Juniors are in Arundel High or headed there with O'Hara schooling them on "winning the Wildcats way" on a daily basis. They play every day, and Tut says that's only because of the "parents' commitment, raising money and organizing transportation to the games."

It also was possible last year because the guy took money out of his ownpocket to keep it going.

"Someone had to coach our 16-and-under kids, and that was me," said Tut.

Two of O'Hara's top players are 16-year-olds Mike Fairbanks and Tre Overstreet.

Overstreet, a middle infielder who will be a senior this fall, and Fairbanks, who will be a junior pitcher/outfielder, play for the Mayo Legion 18-and-under squad coached by Walter when not playing with Tut's team.

Those are two of the team's outstanding players, along with 6-foot-2, 200-pound freshman catcher J. P. Noon, who hit a grand slam and solo homer in one game at Brooklyn Park's 10th Avenue Field this summer and whacked one onto the Arundel parking lot, destroying a windshield during the JV season.

A few more O'Hara proteges you can expect to hear from in the years to come are first baseman/pitcher Tim Giles, third baseman Mike Cozzone, right-handed pitcher Brandon Aggamone (7-1 on JV), shortstop Tony Canstanzo and lead-off hitter/outfielder Kevin Dodson.

Giles, who is 6-2 and 200 pounds, is only 15 years old and already throws the ball about 80 mph, O'Hara said.

"Tim is the best first baseman I've seen at this level," said Tut, who has a lot to do with the future of these kids in high school baseball because he places them where they belong.

Just because a boy was an outstanding shortstop or pitcher in Little League doesn't guarantee him that position when he gets to Arundel. With a lot of input from Tut, Walter positions the players according to their ability -- arm strength, speed, hitting, etc.

"We put them where they are best-suited for high school baseball for their personal abilities, and it's not just something we guess at," said Tut. "A lot of time, study and experience has gone into this."

Walter says that's where O'Hara excels.

"Tut really understands this game and knows the kids," said Walter. "I can't say enough that he is an excellent teacher."

Canstanzo is a good example of learning a new position. He is learning to play shortstop under O'Hara and making great progress while hitting .400.

"He's a very intelligent kid, which is what you need at shortstop and he can hit," said O'Hara.

O'Hara, who will be working more with the olderLegion team come tournament time in late July, is pointing his team toward an Amateur Athletic Union 16-and-under Junior Olympic Tournament in Tallahassee, Fla., July 27 to Aug. 3.

The coach is concernedabout playing enough in the early weeks of July to be ready for the AAU tourney. To make sure they do, O'Hara has to lead his Mayo Juniors to the Babe Ruth Division playoffs July 10-11.

If they win the divisional, Tut would coach the Babe Ruth All-Star Team with many of his players on it, in the Districts (July 13-17) and the States (July 20-25).

"We need to keep playing, that's why it's important to winin the Babe Ruth," said O'Hara.

It's also important that Coach Tut has something to do. Even those hitting and pitching tapes get boring once in a while.

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