Lawrence R. "Jumbo" Tuers Jr., a retired supermarket meat cutter and championship-winning softball pitcher known for his devious fast pitch and competitive streak, died Friday of emphysema at Anne Arundel Medical Center. He was 73.
Born in Baltimore and raised in the Eastport section of Annapolis, Mr. Tuers began a 40-year love affair with softball in 1948. He spent the first 20 years as a pitcher, and the last two decades as player and manager.
Mr. Tuers' pitching helped clinch four state Amateur Softball Association men's fast-pitch championships, including one with the National Boh team in 1972, and the others with National Premium in 1978, 1979 and 1981 -- the teams he played for the longest.
It was not uncommon for Mr. Tuers to pitch no-hit games during his tenure with the Annapolis City Fast-Pitch Recreation League. He was a power pitcher who would crank his right arm like a windmill and release a furiously fast pitch, some say clocking nearly 100 mph. One of his most impressive records was helping the City Market All-Stars win 54 straight games from 1954 to 1955.
His pitching was considered such an asset that when he and his wife, the former Shirley Dougherty, were married on a Saturday in September 1948 -- two days before a championship game -- the league postponed the game until Tuesday to give Mr. Tuers enough time to make it back from the honeymoon.
"He was very much the competitor in everything he did," said son Lawrence Tuers III of Centreville, who took up a more finessed style of pitching under his father's tutelage. "Everybody liked him, but when he walked onto that ball field nobody liked him, because he was there for one reason and that was to win."
"He loved the people he played with. He loved competition," said Arthur "Legs" Tuers, 72, of Eastport, one of Mr. Tuers' three brothers, each of whom had joined him on the field. "He reminded me a lot of Cal Ripken Jr. When he got up there he was playing 110 percent."
His brother's teams performed so well, Arthur Tuers said, that representatives from the Baltimore Orioles came to Annapolis in the 1950s to watch his team play.
"They came to see what we were doing because they were losing all their games," he said.
Eventually, Mr. Tuers went on to coach and manage softball teams, including a girls' team.
Mr. Tuers attended Annapolis High School, but left at age 16 to begin work. At 18, he joined the Army and served during the Korean War.
After his military discharge, he began work in Annapolis in 1958 with the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. He had a 28-year career with the supermarket chain as a meat cutter and department manager, retiring in 1986 from its Super Fresh store at the Bay Hills Shopping Center in Arnold.
A memorial service will be held at 9 a.m. today at St. John Neumann Church, 620 N. Bestgate Road, Annapolis.
In addition to his wife, son and brother, Mr. Tuers is survived by a daughter, Kathleen Armiger of Eastport; his other brothers, William Tuers of Eastport and Harry Tuers of Strasburg, Ohio; and three grandchildren.