Holmes may drop AAABA job Big Lew sets sights on Cannon presidency

THE BALTIMORE SUN

With the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) 18-and-Under World Series winding down, and the final of the championship bracket set for 5 tonight at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harman's, Big Lew (nothing irreverent, it's what everyone calls him) Holmes is beaming with pride.

And while the championships have Holmes, who serves as president of the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) and CABA East Regional director, tickled, it has not prevented him from looking to the future.

"It's the best tournament we've ever had around here. I've had five major league scouts call me about players in this tournament," he said.

Then, Holmes added these stunning words: "I'm going to give up running the AAABA. I'm thinking about stepping down as president and commissioner."

Now before you baseball nuts go ballistic over that announcement, let me tell you that Big Lew is not abandoning amateur baseball and its kids.

Holmes, who has built the best teen-age youth baseball program in the state and given over 20 years of volunteer service to kids, wants to be president of the Friends of Joe Cannon Committee.

"I want to run Cannon Stadium for the amateur teams and set things up the right way," said Holmes. "I'm going to run for president of the Cannon Committee, and if I'm elected, I will step down as AAABA president."

Dave Conrad, a local disc jockey and player in the Chesapeake Seniors League, has served as the Cannon Committee's first president over the last year. He was not elected, but appointed by a small group to get the committee started.

Holmes has made it known that he has not been happy with Conrad and the Cannon Committee in general and feels he can do much more for amateur baseball.

I agree.

No one has given more time and done more for amateur baseball over the last 20 years than Big Lew. The guy eats, sleeps and breathes youth baseball 365 days a year. And if the truth be known, he spreads himself too thin sometimes.

That's not a knock, but constructive criticism. Big Lew may be involved with too many committees and organizations, and I think, could better serve the baseball community he so dearly loves by concentrating on one project.

His motives are sincere, realistic and imaginative when it comes to amateur baseball. And he has the inordinate ability of getting people fighting mad at him, only to have them throw kisses at him in the next breath.

Few people stay mad at Big Lew. You have to love the guy's dedication and sincerity to this county and its youth baseball.

Here's a guy who is always looking for ways to help kids, whether it be giving his free time or his own money. I know of at least three amateur baseball teams who got $100 donations from him this summer.

When one team expressed its appreciation but turned down the offer, Big Lew merely said, "Too bad, you're getting it whether you like it or not."

Big Lew doesn't need to do those kinds of things because he already has an impeccable reputation and the utmost respect of the county's baseball people. He does them because, simply put, he just can't do enough.

That's why I think he would be great as president of the Cannon Committee and, through a volunteer program that he would like to implement, could help the county make money on the fine Cannon facility.

"The out-of-town teams that have come in here to play in the CABA World Series have told me that this the finest facility they have ever played in or seen," says Big Lew.

"I get nothing but raves about Cannon Stadium, and I would really like to see if I can make things better for our local teams."

That's fine, but here's hoping that Big Lew also continues running the AAABA and gives up everything else. Maybe he could wear two hats -- AAABA and Cannon Stadium Committee -- and relinquish all other activities and committees.

Holmes started the AAABA about 16 years ago and has played the key role in its growth and quality of play. The 16 and under, and 18-and-under leagues have produced so many outstanding high school players that our county is recognized as the "hotbed of amateur baseball" in Maryland by its peers, scouts and coaches.

I can't imagine anyone but Big Lew so effectively running the AAABA. His loss would not be good for baseball. It takes extraordinarily dedicated people to run such programs, and there aren't too many of them around.

Some CABA World Series notes and "Q"s:

After a volunteer dropped out at the last minute to coordinate CABA World Series games at Arundel High in Gambrills, Holmes was scrambling for help.

"I don't know what I would have done had it not been for Perry Sauers, Charlie Wroten and Jake Diehl," said Holmes.

"Those three guys stepped right in and took over Arundel for me."

Sauers, a former Brooklyn Park High player, is an Anne Arundel County policeman who plays and manages the Lawmen/Rangers in the Chesapeake Seniors League, while Wroten and Diehl have been involved in youth sports in the Gambrills-Odenton area for the last 20 years.

Two other key, unsung heroes have been Butch Truitt and John Gahan at Saw Mill Creek Park on Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie. Truitt and Gahan are there practically full time taking care of the fields and the Glen Burnie boys baseball program at Saw Mill during the spring and summer.

And if that's not enough, the duo has been working the CABA World Series games at Saw Mill practically full time and are rapping up the consolation bracket today.

Of course, Gahan doubles as public address announcer at the Saw Mill games, which means overtime for Truitt on the tractor. But Butch doesn't mind that his partner has the gravy job. In fact, he is so proud of his title that he wears it on his cap.

Can you believe Truitt walks around in a red cap that says, "Director of Dirt?"

One sour note on the CABA has been the roster moves of co-host Severn Post 276 and its coach Willie Dominguez. Dominguez forfeited certain games in the local American Legion League during regular season but played certain games and had a negative impact on the final standings.

Then come CABA time, Dominguez added -- get this -- seven players to his roster, causing two of his loyal pitchers, Wayne Hudson and Jeff Hagan, to quit the team. Unhappy that they were not going to get much pitching time, Hudson and Hagan said adios.

Unfortunately for Hudson and Hagan, they were not eligible to be picked up for other nationally affiliated tournaments because Dominguez didn't bother to register his rosters. The only rosters registered by Severn for post-season play were in American Legion and CABA.

Mayo coach Bernie Walter considered adding a Severn Post player for the Dizzy Dean Eastern Regional but discovered Severn players had never been registered by Dominguez. No paper work, no play.

What's really amazing about assembling practically a whole new team at tournament time as Severn did, was that they took an excellent player from the co-host Pasadena Saints in Chesapeake High's John Young.

How can the CABA allow that to happen?

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