There's parity in the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) 18-and-Under Connie Mack League. Unfortunately, it's a parity of discouragement.
No matter which league coach you talk to, they all say the same thing.
Ask who's on the team, who might be playing first base, second and so on, and the reply comes back with a name, followed by "when he shows up."
"It's pretty discouraging that we can't get any commitment from these kids," says Broadneck coach Larry Krzyzaniak, who is coaching his third and final season in 18-and-under baseball.
"They pay a $70 fee to play, and then they don't show up," he said. "It makes no sense to me. I'm tired of chasing down these kids every night, wondering who's going to show up and who's not. I've had enough. This is my last year doing this."
The discouraged Broadneck coach is trying to deal with the same problems even top league teams, such as the Pasadena Saints, experience at this age level. Saints coach Steve Herzberger, whose ballclub is one of the Connie Mack contenders, pointed to all the distractions high school seniors have.
There are such things as graduation, proms, June Week in Ocean City, early vacations -- everything but baseball. Contenders like the Saints are trying to struggle through the same problems as the 5-11 Broadneck team.
"There is just no commitment from the seniors to play summer baseball," said Krzyzaniak. "There has got to be a better way to get these guys to play, because it's happening all over the league in this age group."
Krzyzaniak, whose son Larry Jr. pitches and catches for him, started the season with great expectations for the six-team Connie Mack League, which includes the Pasadena Saints, Harundale, Glen Burnie, Linthicum-Ferndale and South River.
A strong senior nucleus from the Broadneck high school varsity team -- which made the Class 4A Region IV playoffs and upset top-seeded Severna Park in the first round -- was good reason for optimism.
The Broadneck summer team didn't land the high school Bruins' top two players, Jeff Vincent and Matt Weimer, but nearly everyone else was to play.
Vincent and Weimer are playing for the league-leading Severna Park Post 175 club in county American Legion 18-and-under.
"We had the potential to win in this league when we started out. Some pretty good players from the high school were going to play, but they let me down," said a dejected Krzyzaniak.
"It was a big disappointment."
When asked, 'Who plays where?' Krzyzaniak prefaced each answer with "when he shows up," or "it's hard to say because we don't know who's going to be there."
The Broadneck coach apparently has lost pitcher-outfielder Tim Collins, Kevin Barry, Cliff McClain and a handful of other players.
According to the Broadneck coach, Barry, who runs well, is playing in a mens' softball league. McClain, the high school Bruins' starting third baseman, is in Texas.
Erin Hickman, a Bruins' second baseman, is playing shortstop and pitching for the summer team. Another Broadneck high school infielder, Scott Seyfferth, plays short when Hickman pitches.
Todd Bramble, who like Seyfferth will be a Bruin senior this fall, shares the catching duties with the coach's son.
Around the horn, Broadneck has Jason Welborn or Chip Boswell at first base, Dave Foertch at second and Ryan Parr at third, while McClain is on sabbatical.
The outfield is headed up by the reliable and constantly improving Troy Pourmoghadam.
"Troy is in college [Anne Arundel] and makes more games than the other guys," says Krzyzaniak. "He has done a really good job for us in the outfield, and, most of all, we can depend on him."
Pourmoghadam is joined in the garden by Jake Waddell, 16-year-old Sean Ryan and John Hollander of Annapolis. Ryan's dad, Dean, is expected to take over the club next year.
"We're pretty fortunate that Sean plays for us once in a while when he's not playing for his dad's 16-and-under team," Krzyzaniak said.
"We got hurt somewhat when Broadneck started a 15-16 travel team this year, because we only had 13 players sign up for the 18-and-under team.
"Dean [Ryan] is taking over my team next year because I've had it," he said. "They've [ Connie Mack-age teams] got to find a way to get these kids committed to playing. I'm going to try and get a few more players from Annapolis to play, so we can have a team that shows up."
Unfortunately, there is really nothing more that coaches like Krzyzaniak can do except hope the kids want to play. A league has been set up for the high school seniors with national affiliations such as the National Amateur Baseball Federation, Continental Amateur Baseball Association and Dizzy Dean.
In addition, interleague play with the five American Legion teams -- Mayo Post No. 226, Severn Post 276, Severna Park Post 175, Annapolis Post 7 and Ferndale Post 289 -- is part of the Connie Mack schedule.
So, the clubs play good, competitive schedules with opportunity for further exposure. That is, "when the teams show up."
The only hope is that the kids themselves will want to play, because the league and its coaches and administrators have done everything they can to make it a high-quality league.
Think about it. What else could they do? Pay the players a million bucks a season to show up?
Mayo Post 226 coach Bernie Walter, who has a full roster committed to playing summer baseball, once told me the bottom line for this age group. It's very simple.
"Some people go to Ocean City for fun," said Walter. "We play baseball for our fun."
No truer words have been said.
* In other county amateur baseball news, let me tell you that there a big doubleheader scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight at Michael's Eighth Avenue.
The Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame is meeting along with the Friends of Joe Cannon Stadium Committee. The Hall of Fame group will be there to discuss upcoming events and the criteria for Hall of Fame candidates, which will be released to the public this week.
Big Lew Holmes, president of the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association, will meet with the Cannon Committee to discuss the July 27-Aug. 5 CABA 18-and-under World Series coming to Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
The committee, a group formed to promote amateur baseball in the county, has accepted the responsibility of sponsoring the CABA World Series.
Holmes estimates that the 16-team tournament, with clubs from all over the country coming to Anne Arundel, will cost about $8,000. Details on fund-raising for the CABA World Series will be discussed at this meeting and with the Hall of Fame committee in the same hall. Any "sugar daddy" who shows up for the CABA meeting could gain immediate entry into the county's hallowed halls.
Just kidding, of course.
But, in all seriousness, Holmes and the committee are looking for all the support they can get from baseball people and the business community. It's an important meeting.
For more information on it, or if you can't make the powwow but want to get involved, just give Lew a call at 760-4138.