John Moore works tough hours - 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. four days a week driving a delivery truck for Stroehmann Bakeries. The Glen Burnie resident often goes to bed no later than 8 p.m. so he can awaken by 1 a.m. and get to work in the middle of the night. He has done that for about 18 years.
Still, at 58, Moore makes room for baseball and softball - at least 20 hours a week. He's in his 25th year as president of the Glen Burnie Boys Baseball League Inc., which also operates the Glen Burnie Girls Softball League. He also coached for about 14 years and has been an umpire since 1969.
We asked Moore to talk about his love of sports and why he does all of this even though his three children are grown and long away from recreational baseball and softball.
Q: The baseball leagues in the Anne Arundel area have gotten smaller in recent years. Where does baseball rate nowadays in people's eyes, and how much are other sports affecting the game's popularity?
A: I think that now, as opposed to 25 years ago when baseball was No. 1 in the spring, it's No. 3 behind lacrosse and soccer. Every year, we lose a number of players.
In the boys programs we tend to lose baseball players because they tend to play soccer. In the girls softball program, they tend to go to lacrosse.
Whether it's the kids of today wanting to be more active, I don't know. But baseball is a sport where you're certainly not as active unless you're in a key position. But everyone can't be a pitcher or a catcher or a first baseman. It can be about counting airplanes at times.
What has changed over the years in terms of people? How much of a difference is there in the attitudes of then and now?
The parents' attitude now is definitely much different than it was back when I started. In conjunction with that, it's caused the kids to have different attitudes.
Parents of today think differently. They're single parents in a lot of cases, and what we see now is in a lot of cases grandparents, aunts and uncles or a family member bringing a child to the ball field and dropping them off because the parent works and can't get to the ball field until after the game starts.
Everyone also is more tense today. That carries on to the ball field. That's one of the major changes. Maybe that's just the attitude of the world we live in.
You've obviously dealt with a lot of young players over the years. Have you had any big names come through?
Tony Saunders [now an Orioles farmhand but also former pitcher with the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays remembered nationally for twice suffering a broken throwing arm] was in the Glen Burnie league. I coached his older brother, Billy, and coached Tony for about a half-season when he was about 9 years old. I filled in for another coach.
Tony was just awesome as a kid. For not having the everyday structure for a pitcher, he was a hustler ... and he was a good ballplayer. If somebody would show him how to do it better, he'd do it. He was a quick-learning kid who really liked the game, and I'm rooting for him now.
I was watching on TV the first time he [broke his arm]. You could hear it, and I felt the pain. But he's a fighter and never gives up.
What are some of the more memorable moments you've had?
I've just had so much fun over the years. One of the funniest moments that I remember is we were playing a ball game one day, and one of the parents from the opposing team kept getting after the umpire and riding the ump.
The umpire finally called time and walked over to the fence and said, "Sir, are you here alone?"
The guy said, "No, my wife's here."
And he said, "Good, she can tell you the results of the game, because you're going to the parking lot."
And he went without fussing much.
With your crazy schedule, why do you keep spending so much time doing this?
I love seeing the kids. And to me, it's all about the kids.
We need people to keep helping the kids. I think that there's a lot of people who, for whatever reason and maybe not consciously and I'm sure not intentionally, tend to forget other kids need help also.
I'd like to see more people involved who don't necessarily have kids in the program but at least give a couple of years.