ECKMAN TURNS DOWN COMMISSIONER POST, CALLS IT 'A JOKE'

THE BALTIMORE SUN

How about a Sunday brunch, sports fans?

Well, that's what we've got today, and as usual I'm looking for input from you on the 24-hour Sportsline, 647-2499.

Please call with your remarks, positive or negative, as I unload a bunch of notes and a sampling of questions without answers.

* Ifyou heard that Glen Burnie's most famous personality, Charley Eckman, had taken one of those commissioner jobs with the Maryland State Athletic Commission, disregard that.

It seems Charley, never one to be impressed by titles that don't pay a dime, told the commission to in his words, "call a cab; make that two cabs."

The feisty 70-year-old, who is a member of the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame,turned down an invitation to become a commission member.

"It was like throwing a dog a bone, and they thought I would bite. They can forget that. I sent their application back," said Eckman.

"What do I want to be one of those commissioners running all over the place watching boxing and wrestling matches for? It's a joke. They wanted to give me an appointment, make me feel important but not pay a penny. Ain't no way!"

Vintage Charley Eckman, right?

Think about it. A lot of guys his age might have jumped at such a position just to feelimportant while running all over the place for nothing.

Since he was a kid coming up from the school of hard knocks in East Baltimore,he never was one to be suckered into being used by people. And Charley is sure not going to start now.

The guy is not about to retire and is still all over the place voicing his opinion.

Really, when you think about it, how can the very commission that won't admit him into its Hall of Fame have the nerve to ask him to work for them for a title and name badge?

Eckman is not eligible for the State Athletic Hall of Fame because of its archaic regulations that don't allow inductions of coaches and officials, only players.

I'm still searching for a game without coaches and officials. If you find one, please, give me a buzz on the 24-Hour Sportsline.

* Recently I receiveda wonderful letter from former major-league catcher Gordon "Babe" Phelps of Odenton, who played for the Senators, Cubs, Dodgers and Pirates.

Phelps, 83, wrote how thrilled he was to be inducted into the County Sports Hall of Fame along with Eckman, Daffy Russell, Betty Hallmark and Lloyd Keaser in October.

The Babe wanted me to tell everyone who was there that night he wishes "to extend my personal thanks to all participated" in making him one of the inaugural inductees.

Phelps also wanted to get in a shot at Eckman. A while back I wrote about Charley receiving a thank-you letter from the owner of the Frederick Keys for Eckman getting the ball rolling with the governor tohave Grove Stadium built for the minor-league club.

Charley told us how the Keys' owner had invited him to Opening Day 1992. Well, Babe is keeping pace.

"Tell Eckman he is not the only one that has been invited to opening day," wrote the Babe.

"The Hagerstown Suns have invited me."

Do you get the feeling that once you've got that competitive fire, it never abandons you?

* Have you baseball coaches signed up or are you making plans to attend what should be a superb baseball coaches clinic put on by the Maryland State Baseball Coaches at BWI Marriott on Friday and Saturday?

If you want informationon the clinic, which will feature one of the most renowned hitting instructors in the country in Illinois coach Itchy Jones, call Jim Miller at 838-2145.

* Are you baseball card collectors aware of a couple of good shows coming up in February -- at Arundel High Show on Feb. 8 and the Sunshine Foundation Show on Feb. 15 at the Columbian Center in Severna Park?

All the proceeds from the Arundel show benefit the Wildcats' baseball program.

Isn't it great that Minnesota Twins left-hander Denny Neagle, who currently is pitching in a winter league in the Dominican Republic, is returning to his alma mater for the card show to help out his old coach, Bernie Walter?

For more information, call Walter at 674-6500.

The Sunshine Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises money to grant the wishes of terminally ill children, and the Anne Arundel County chapter is graciouslyrun by the county police.

For information on the Sunshine Card show, give Ron Bledsoe a call at 987-5919.

* Can you believe founderFrenchy Letan and county Rec and Parks came up with six teams to play 50-and-over basketball with the league starting today at Marley Middle School?

Several sponsors from the county 50-and-over men's softball league are participating in hoops for seniors, too.

The first game starts at 1 p.m. with Clauss Liquors taking on O'Brady's followed by Betty and Jakes against Penn-Dower at 2:15 p.m., and the finalgame at 3:30 pits the Travelers against John Boring's Wooden Nickel.

"We've got some real strong teams, and it looks like we will makea go of it," said the league's public relations man, Lee Hood.

* Have you hoop fans been wondering whatever happened to 1989-1990 All-County center Teddy Cottrell of the state champion Annapolis Panthers?

The 6-foot-9 Cottrell spent a year in prep school and has been red-shirted this year at 25th-ranked University of Massachusetts (11-3) to get his academics in tip-top order.

Cottrell participates in the Minutemen practices and takes a seat on the pines during the games, making some of the road trips. Cottrell, who was a dead-eye from the foul line while at Annapolis, will have four years of eligibility beginning next season.

* How about a round of applause for Old Mill girls soccer coach Bruce Sponsler, the Anne Arundel County Sun Coach of the Year, for being named the recipient of the prestigious Sportsmanship Award presented by the Chesapeake Soccer Federation?

* I've talked to quite a few county high school coaches who feel that thecounty's "tracking" system of placing problem students in classes together while separating them from the more conscientious is not conducive to good education and can thwart the progress of some student-athletes. How many of you feel that way?

"I really think if you put some of the kids with problems, discipline, learning or otherwise, inwith the more diligent students, that it might motivate those with problems to do better," said Annapolis football coach Roy Brown.

* With the Severna Park boys hoop team 7-0 going into Friday against North County, can you imagine how good the Falcons would be had not 6-foot-7 blue-chipper Norman Nolan moved from the Park to Pioneer City to Baltimore County, finally transferring to Milford Mill High last year?

Nolan, still another outstanding protege of Ed Wilson's 10-and-under Severna Park Green Hornets program, is considered to be one ofthe top sophomores in the nation and is averaging 22 points a game for the Millers.

'No one would believe it, but Norman beat (Bulletsstar) Michael Adams, 11-10, in a one-on-one pickup game last summer," said Wilson, who used to drive Nolan from Pioneer City to Severna Park and back to play for his youth team before he moved to Baltimore County.

Rumor has it that Nolan, who attended Cardinal Gibbons High in eighth grade, is going to transfer to top-ranked Dunbar next year.

Have you heard of the latest Wilson protege, 12-year-old DenardMelton of Jones Elementary in Severna Park?

Melton might be the best young player in the state, and all of the private schools are after him.

There is no question that Melton will not be going to Severna Park to play hoops.

Remember former North Carolina State and Harlem Globetrotters star Quentin Jackson, who also played for Wilson,lived in Severna Park but led DeMatha in Hyattsville to a national title?

Why don't athletes like that play at Severna Park High?

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