Only someone like Lew Holmes would take on something as big as the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) World Series. And that's precisely what Big Lew is doing, all the while hoping that he willget some help from the community.
Holmes, who is regional director for the CABA, in addition to his other local volunteer baseball duties, has signed a contract for Anne Arundel County to play host to the 18-and-under CABA World Series July 21-31.
It's quite an undertaking, a $25,000 undertaking, with 16 teams participating. Two of those teams will be from the county, while the other 14 will come from all over, including Canada and Honolulu.
"We need to raise about $25,000 to do this thing right, and I'm going door-to-door to get help," said Holmes, who also is president of the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) and vice president/tournament director of the Linthicum-Ferndale Youth Athletic Association.
"We've got some fund-raisingactivities planned, but what we mainly need is for a local community organization, club, something likethat, to get involved. It would be great for a local organization tooffer its members as volunteers in helping to raise money, organize the tournament and supervise it."
Holmes is keeping his fingers crossed that some local group will step forward to possibly sell tickets and ads for a tournament program magazine.
"We're not in this tomake money, but to bring in money to host a first-class tournament in the new Joe Cannon Stadium," said Holmes.
"A national tournamentin our county will bring money into our economy. With 14 teams coming in with players, parents and fans, it can only be a positive thing for local business."
I can speak firsthand that the CABA tournaments do pump bucks into an economy because all the teams stay around for nearly 10 days. Having taken the Kazmarek Little Orioles baseball team out to Tarkio, Mo., last summer for the CABA 11-and-under World Series, I know we spent a lot of money in that little Midwest town.
The tournaments are round robin -- none of this "lose two games, pack your bags and hit the trail some 1,000 miles back home after just acouple days."
With 16 teams planned for the 18-and-under round robin, followed by a championship double-elimination of the top eight, and the same for the consolation eight, teams are guaranteed nine games.
So, quite obviously, when the out-of-towners hit Anne Arundel,they will set up camp for almost two weeks and bring money to spend.
Holmes will play most of the biggames in the newly constructed Cannon Stadium in Harmans. He also will use the fields at Arundel and North County high schools, as well as Saw Mill Creek Park.
The county will collect a fee for Cannon Stadium, while the other fields are free.
Some of the fund-raisers planned include a baseball card show, a beauty contest, a banquet, raffles and special ticket plans.
The baseball card show is set for Saturday, May 18, at North County High School. The special guest is former major-league Gold Glove firstbaseman Jim Spencer.
Spencer, who played at Andover High School before going onto a 15-year big-league career (1968-1982) with the California Angels, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees and Oakland A's, will sign autographs at the card show for -- get this -- free.
He will be signing his name for the benefit of the Ferndale American Legion Post No. 289 18-and-under team that will play hostto the tournament. Also, some of the proceeds will go to Coach Don
Usewick's North County High baseball team.
When is the last timea pro or former pro signed his name at such a show without getting apenny out of it? And believe me, this is no ordinary former major-leaguer.
Spencer holds the American League career record for highestfielding percentage by a first baseman at .995 in 1,221 games. A No.1 draft pick of the Angels in 1965, Spencer won two Gold Gloves, including one in 1973 when he tied the single-season fielding record of .999 set by John McGinnis of the 1921 Boston Red Sox.
In high school, he also excelled in basketball and soccer and in 1987 was inducted into the prestigious Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame.
His children are current members of the LFYAA program.
"He's just a class act, and to do this for us is great, although not a surprise to those who know him," said Holmes.
The beauty contest will be orchestrated by Lucy Decker to find three girls for each team to serve as princesses for the CABA tournament. The girls serve as bat girls and aids for the guys to find their way around.
Sen. Mike Wagner, who always is ready and willing to help amateur baseball, and his buddy, Big Lew, will enable the CABA tournament committee to sell tickets to the banquet for a profit. Wagner will only charge costs for the expenses of a banquet at his plush Michael's 8th Avenue Hall in Glen Burnie.