The winds of change are blowing through Carroll County recreation baseball.
A new unlimited league featuring three county teams is forming, the Taneytown American Legion team again has folded and a new 13-15 Babe Ruth program has started in Finksburg.
Also, two Westminster teams are moving their home field from Landon Burns Park to the recently renovated diamond at Westminster High.
The league was formed by John Smith, who has been involved in county recreation baseball for two decades and who will manage one of theteams, and John Hutchins. Smith decided to form the loop early last year after an attempt to enter a team in the established South Penn League was turned down by that loop.
"We've had a tremendous playerturnout," Smith said. "There are a lot more kids out there that could play."
Smith noted that, unlike Little League, Babe Ruth and American Legion teams, players on unlimited teams may stay with the squad for many years. Many of the South Penn League teams, for example, change just a small handful of players on their roster each year.
The league will include two Westminster-area teams, one from the NorthCarroll area and another from the Frederick County area. That's not as many as Smith had anticipated when he first discussed the league ayear ago, but said several potential teams are taking a "wait-and-see attitude" before committing to the new loop.
"I'm thrilled just to have four teams to experiment with," Smith said. "A couple of people are taking a wait-and-see attitude."
Smith said next year he'd like to see one or two teams in the South Carroll area, one in the Reisterstown section of Baltimore County, one or two in Howard County and perhaps another in Frederick County.
Smith said 63 players attended tryouts for the two Westminster teams earlier this spring and said another dozen or so college players had expressed interest. Fifty players eventually made the two teams' rosters.
"The guys who wantto play ball have been willing to pay for their own uniforms," he said. "But we are looking for sponsors, and we'll be passing the hat around (for donations) at games."
The league will start a 20-game regular-season schedule on May 19 and will play Sunday doubleheaders and single games on Thursday evenings.
The Taneytown American Legionteam, meanwhile, will not be returning to the Western District this year, leaving just two county teams remaining -- Mount Airy and Westminster.
Arnold "Junior" Weeks, who revived the team when he becamemanager two years ago, said he told the sponsoring Hesson Snyder Post 120 a month after the 1990 season ended that he was not returning, but said he urged the post to keep the team.
The team has struggled in recent years on the field, and the team was folded by then-coachTerry Riffle halfway through 1988 because of a lack of players. At the time, Riffle said work commitments and vacations had shrunk the roster to less than a dozen players, making it just about impossible tocompete.
The Taneytown team also has one of the smallest areas inthe district from which to draw players -- the Catoctin and Francis Scott Key high school districts, two relatively small schools. But Weeks said players from Catoctin in Thurmont, Frederick County, rarely joined; only one was on the team last year.
By contrast, Funkstowndraws from several large Washington County schools, Frederick draws from some large Frederick County schools, Westminster traditionally has drawn from three Carroll districts, and Mount Airy has two relatively large drawing areas in South Carroll and Linganore (Frederick County).
Still, Taneytown had a solid core of players while Weeks wascoach and, despite winning just a handful of games over the past twoyears, the squad never was in danger of folding due to lack of interest.
Westminster Legion coach Randy Biden, meanwhile, said he has gained the Francis Scott Key school district to go along with the Westminster and North Carroll districts but has had to give up the Liberty district, which goes to Mount Airy.
The Westminster Legion teamalso is moving to a new home field along with the Elks of the South Penn League. Both are switching from Landon Burns to the recently renovated diamond at Westminster High.
Finally, the Finksburg baseball program has expanded to Babe Ruth Baseball and will field three teams -- two in the 13-year-old division and one in the 14-15 division. The three teams will play in combined leagues with the already-established North Carroll program.