The slim, white-haired man is one of the most familiar figures in our state, yet he moves unobtrusively around the athletic scene at the University of Maryland. Maybe he creates more of a stir when he's smoking his familiar pipe.
He is Marvin Mandel, who was governor of Maryland from 1969 to 1977 and is now president of the university's Terrapin Club.
The Terrapin Club raises most of the scholarship money for Terp athletes. Last year, its 3,500 members raised $1.5 million.
All presidents of the club have helped raise revenue. Mandel, however, goes far beyond that. His hand is conspicuous in the $19.3 million modernization of the Byrd Stadium complex -- including the brand-new $6.1 million football building.
When the Terps first went to Annapolis seeking financial support four years ago, it was Mandel who showed then-athletic director Lew Perkins the ropes. Perkins could not have had a more knowledgeable guide.
"We're raising $13 million in a capital campaign now that will be matched one-for-one by the state," says Mandel.
"With that money, we're going to double-deck the north stands of Byrd Stadium. That will raise the capacity to 50,000. We're also going to improve Cole Field House with air conditioning, luxury boxes and new locker rooms for Gary Williams' basketball team."
Mandel is by no means a figurehead. "The governor is very supportive, very hands-on," said Terrapin Club director Gib Romaine.
One of Mandel's goals is to substantially increase the Terrapin Club membership.
"There are 88,000 graduates of the university living in Maryland, the largest number of resident graduates at any Atlantic Coast Conference school," says Mandel. "Unfortunately, that's not reflected in our membership. I think we can increase it to 5,000 members by the end of the fiscal year [June 30]."
Mandel is one of many who marvel at the inspirational ability of football coach Mark Duffner, whose team is still on a high from last week's last-play 27-25 win at Duke.
"Duffner has a great talent," says Mandel. "I learned my lesson last week.
"I was listening on the radio and we had the ball on our own 11-yard line with 24 seconds left and we were behind by four points. I turned the game off. I was angry because I thought we'd lost. Later I was watching a game on TV and at the bottom of the screen I saw the final score: Maryland 27, Duke 25. I couldn't believe it."
Said Duffner of last week's victory: "We want to make that the standard around here. Of course, we don't want to wait until the last play of the game every week."
Prediction: Maryland, which has only two wins, will upset North Carolina here Saturday. The four-point favorite Tar Heels have a 6-2 record but their wins have been over run-oriented teams. With quarterback John Kaleo and receiver Marcus Badgett, Maryland has an explosive passing attack. Look for the Terps to pass Carolina silly.
* Baltimore baseball fans are happy to see Don Baylor become the first manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies. Baylor played for the Orioles from 1970 to 1975.
Baylor came out of Texas as a naive kid but he learned fast. As an Orioles rookie, on his first visit to New York, he returned from Yankee Stadium after the series opener and found his hotel room cleaned out by burglars. For Donny, that was the end of innocence.
He should be a successful manager in part because he played for managers who won 12 pennants, including Earl Weaver, who won four. Points out one of the managers Baylor played for, American League Manager of the Year Tony La Russa: "Don paid attention."
* Question: Why does baseball call players free agents when it costs millions to sign them?
* Syracuse doesn't lose many lacrosse games but it lost one last weekend to Maryland, 6-5, in a five-team tournament played at Rutgers. Outstanding for the Terps was their goalie, 6-foot-4, 240-pound junior Matthew Back, from St. Mary's High. He was coach Dick Edell's backup last year.
To put the game in perspective: It was fall ball (the real lacrosse season is played in the spring), it was only a 35-minute game with running time, and in the same tournament Maryland lost to Towson State and Rutgers (and beat Georgetown and Lehigh).