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'What's with postponements?' umpire asks

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Let's lead off this session of "Q's without A's" with an unhappy camper and remind you to call the 24-Hour Sportsline, 647-2499, with your responses, questions or answers of your own.

"What is going on?"

That's the "Q" from a disgusted Jack Kramp, the Anne Arundel Baseball Umpires chief. Kramp is upset over the postponing and rescheduling fiasco in Anne Arundel's 18-and-under Connie Mack and American Legion leagues.

"It's really bad, gotten totally out of hand," said Kramp, who has changed at least 30 games in that age bracket already this season.

"[Coaches] call up and say their best players are down the ocean, so they can't play so and so today; and then, I have to track down the assigned umpires and tell them 'no game' that night.

"Then, they call back the night before they want to make up the game and expect me to assign umpires. It's really ridiculous, and I'm fed up. I never had high blood pressure until I had to start dealing with this garbage the last couple years."

Kramp was livid Monday afternoon after receiving more postponements from Connie Mack coaches unable to field teams for one reason or another.

"Either they want to play baseball or they don't," said Kramp. "Somebody has got to do something about this because I'm tired of changing games. . . . Either they play or forfeit, or we might start boycotting games."

Talk to any coach in either league and they express their concerns over the constant game changes and all the various reasons for players not showing up.

"It could be a really good league if we could stop all of this and get the teams to play their scheduled games," said Mayo Post No. 226 coach Bernie Walter.

Veteran umpire Frank "Jocko" Svoboda is concerned that Kramp will throw in the towel.

"Let me tell you something, if this county lost Jack, our baseball program would be in big trouble," said Jocko. "There is no one else who could handle all these problems the way he does.

"He must spend 24 hours a day on the phone. . . . These coaches better be careful, because they could ruin a good thing."

Will someone tell me why guys sign up to play and then don't show up? Should the county disband the 18-and-under age group or start charging forfeits and making them pay the fine before they can play again?

* As for the man who called the Sportsline late Sunday and asked how I could criticize those not fulfilling scheduled games and "in the next breath criticize the Severna Park Legion players for leaving an exhibition game [High School Seniors All Star Classic at Joe Cannon Stadium] to meet their commitment at Arundel High to play Mayo Post, a scheduled game," let me explain.

Those who left early were going to meet their commitment to a regularly scheduled game, set for 8:30 p.m. at Arundel High, about 15 minutes from the stadium in Harmans.

The point was, they could have stayed until the end of the all-star game, rather than leave early for batting practice two hours before the start of the league game. Mayo coach Walter and his players stayed for the conclusion of the all-star game, then went to Arundel to play their Legion game.

What I was trying to say was that a lot of people on the Friends of Joe Cannon Committee were trying to do something nice for the high school seniors and certain people didn't seem to appreciate it.

* How about the tournament Davidsonville's Kevin Gibbs had playing for Team Maryland in the Sun Belt Classic at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater?

Named to the All-Tournament Team as on outfielder, Gibbs, who attended St. John's High in the Washington area, hit a robust .412 (7-for-16) and set a tournament record, successfully stealing all 11 of his attempts.

Gibbs led Team Maryland to a 4-2 record, including a 5-2 loss in the final to Florida. Gibbs had three hits with four stolen bases and a run scored in the finale.

Selected on the 44th round of the June free agent draft by the Boston Red Sox, Gibbs has accepted a full baseball scholarship to Old Dominion University. Gibbs said before the Sun Belt Classic that the Bosox planned to watch him closely in the tournament and then again at the U.S. Junior Olympic trials in Iowa before making him a serious offer.

The smooth outfielder could turn pro this summer.

Did you know that Gibbs' dad, Ed Gibbs, coaches the Annapolis 15-and-under Babe Ruth summer team that also plays in the Anne Arundel County 16-and-under Joe E. Brown League?

"I'm amazed at the lack of fundamentals the kids from the South County high schools have," said Coach Gibbs. "These kids are obviously not getting much instruction at the JV level at any of the South County high schools."

* If you get around the county to see the local baseball diamonds, do you agree that the out-going Joe McCann rec and parks regime made a colossal mistake by putting in so many deplorable dirt infields rather than grass?

It probably was more economical initially, but just visit North County High, Harundale, Severn or Saw Mill and you will see the concrete rock piles the kids are supposed to play on. First, the fields are dangerous. Second, it's tough to expect infielders to catch the ball consistently.

The McCann regime did order grass, though, for Joe Cannon Stadium, the best baseball facility in the area.

While we're on the subject, have you ever seen the grass infield and base paths at Arundel High in Gambrills and wondered why the paths are grass?

"Labor reasons, it's less work when it rains," said Arundel coach Walter. "You've seen dirt paths and how they get muddy after it rains. With grass, you don't have that worry. It's done in various parts of the country and in Australia, and I think it's a great idea."

The auxiliary baseball field at Arundel is all grass.

There are dirt circles at home plate and at each base (similar to an AstroTurf field setup, only it's real grass) on the Arundel auxiliary field used by the Wildcats JV and the Babe Ruth team.

Is it any wonder there are few rainouts at Arundel?

Didn't the guys at Linthicum-Ferndale do a great job with the grass infield they put in on their 12-and-under field this season? Shouldn't baseball be played on grass and not rocks?

Don't the Linthicum-Ferndale people hope they can put down grass on their 80-foot, 13-14 year-old diamond and possibly get a later curfew for the lights at Linthicum-Ferndale Park?

Really, what's the big deal for those living near the fields if the curfew (now 10:30 p.m.) were moved to 11, when already they have to contend with planes from nearby Baltimore-Washington International Airport buzzing over their rooftops at midnight?

"That 10 to 10:30 p.m. curfew has been around forever, and I don't understand why we can't get a later one, at least 11 o'clock," said Linthicum-Ferndale Athletics 13-14 coach Wayne Feuerherd.

* What's the big deal over 4-20 St. Mary's boys basketball coach Jim Sheehan quitting? Wouldn't longtime South River high assistant Jack Jordan, who runs a summer team in the Annapolis Recreation Outdoor League at Truxtun Park, be an excellent choice as the next Saints coach?

Jordan has a Catholic school background having graduated from St. John's in D.C. and is a guy who has paid his dues as an assistant. His efforts with the Seahawks paid off this season, as South River won 19 games and qualified for the Class 3A playoffs.

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