SYKESVILLE FALL Baseball is in full swing again at Freedom Park on Raincliffe Road.
In its sixth year, the league has grown from 80 players on six teams to 340 players on 22 teams, and is a coed league.
Nick Stuhler is chairman of fall baseball and says the program is a training ground for more serious baseball players for ages 6 through 17.
Sykesville Fall Baseball draws elite players from Carroll, Baltimore and Howard counties.
"Everyone plays in Sykesville," Stuhler says. "All the elite teams, the best of their players, come and play our teams. We have great fields and are very organized."
According to Stuhler, fall baseball is a training experience for the kids, unlike spring baseball, where kids are placed in the positions they play best to win games.
Coaches train the kids to play every position so that they can excel in many areas of the game.
Sykesville baseball also trains umpires for six weeks every February.
About 60 percent to 70 percent of the umpires are players that participate in fall baseball.
Kids must be at least age 12 to start. Ages of training umpires run from 12 to17, and some adults. Umpire coordinator is Jim Robinson.
Occasionally minor league umpires are brought in to assist with training.
"It's a good group of instructors," says Stuhler. "Many of the older kids move on to become umpire instructors."
All umpires, once trained, are paid, even from 12 years.
Running the show
Stuhler, a resident of Eldersburg and father of two sons, oversees the league. He has assistance from Dick Smith, former chairman of the league, and Scott Newton.
"Coaches handle most problems with their own teams, " says Stuhler. "If it's something they need help with, they go to Dick, Scotty, or myself."
Practice is held Monday through Friday, so Stuhler might be at the fields every night of the week. Games are held Saturday.
Stuhler became involved in the league through his eldest son, Josh, now 12. When Josh was 4, and playing T-ball at the YMCA, Stuhler was the coach.
Later, when Josh moved to the Sykesville teams, Stuhler again coached, and later was team manager. Last year, Stuhler became chairman of fall baseball.
Josh and Stuhler's other son Jeremy, 10, accompany him most evenings and spend Saturday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the fields.
"The kids love it," says Stuhler. "All their friends are there. It's almost like a big family. We even have parties together."
Josh helps run the snack bar and umpires. Jeremy plays on a team and likes catching and pitching.
Proceeds from the snack bar, run by Newton and his wife, Maria, pay umpire wages. The Newtons put in long hours to make sure the snack bar is profitable.
Fall baseball runs from the first week in August to the first week in November. Spring baseball runs from April through July.
Piney Run Park Apple Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 14.
Names of volunteers for food booths, exhibits and events are being taken. Bakers are needed to make apple pies and other apple desserts. Volunteers: 410-795-6043.
Ceramics classes are being offered at Freedom Elementary in the art room from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays starting today through Oct. 24.
These are holiday "make it, take it" classes. Some pieces are ready to paint and decorate. Registration is $15 per person and supplies are furnished for $5 per session.
Information: Esther Matulonis, 410-781-4653.
Debra Taylor-Young's Southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.