HAGERSTOWN — When first baseman Billy Ray stepped onto the field at Hagerstown Municipal Stadium on Saturday, it brought back plenty of great memoriesfor the former Baltimore Orioles farmhand.
Ray, 42, remembered the year 1969 when at Miami in the Class A Florida State League he hit .270, scored 70 runs, had the same number of RBIs and stole 42 bases.
After that season, Ray thought he was on the fast track to the major leagues.
But the next year, Ray sat on the bench and backed upfuture major-leaguer Don Baylor in AA ball. A collarbone injury and his desire for more family time led Ray to quit A ball in 1971.
But last weekend he and 13 other members of the Columbia Cardinals squad remembered their glory moments at a two-day annual 30-and-over Men's Senior Baseball League Regional Tournament.
Gary Bromery of Columbia pitched in minors for the California Angels organization during the late '70s. He now pitches for the Cardinals.
Player/coach Joe Lomascolo, 38, of Columbia pitches and plays first base and outfield.He pitched batting practices for the world champion New York Yankeesin 1977-1978. He threw batting practice daily before home games to ateam that boasted Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella and Graig Nettles.
Last weekend's regional tournament featured four teams: the Cardinals, all-star squads from Annapolis and Washington and a team from Baltimore.
The Cardinals, whose players range in age from 30 to the mid-40s, are members of the Plus 30 league of the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.
On Saturday, they lost, 14-10, to Annapolis, but defeated Washington, 9-8. On Sunday, the Cardinals were hampered by poor defense. They bowed to Baltimore, 6-2.
Although the team won only one of three tournament games last weekend, Lomascolosaid the trip was worthwhile.
"It was a good chance to play on a professional field. That was the main consideration," he said.
"Everyone really enjoyed playing on a professional field. We proved we could play against the best of three area leagues. If we had played error-free baseball, then we could have won all three games, instead ofone of three."
Shaky defense hurt the Cardinals against the Annapolis squad as the team committed five errors resulting in eight unearned runs.
Right fielder Henry Wong was the Cardinals' star of the game as he went 3-for-3, scoring three runs. Third baseman John Canterna had two hits and three RBI.
Excellent pitching contributed to the triumph over the Washington team. Lomascolo hurled 5 1/3 innings,allowing two earned runs while striking out four.
Center fielder Pete Hughes had the best performance for the Columbia team, going 2-for-3 with a triple, an RBI and two runs scored.
On Sunday, the team committed six errors. Bromery pitched six innings, allowing six hits and 2 earned runs. Wong went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a sacrifice fly.
The Cardinals played a 15-game schedule this summer at Cedar Lane and Rockburn parks. The squad finished the season third in its division with an 8-7 record. The season runs from April through Aug. 11.
Next season, the Cardinals hope to play in the more competitive MSBL, a national organization of 30-and-older players that features about 400 teams nationally.
"It (playing in the MSBL) would provide us with better fields to play on," Lomascolo said. "We havegot to get off of playing on these softball fields. It is a major concern of the players."
Most of the members of the Columbia team have previous baseball experience.
Of the 14 team members, 12 playedin high school and six in college. Two have professional experience.
"I think it's a great opportunity that we can continue to play baseball on a competitive level and not have to just play softball," Lomascolo said.
"In the past, the avenue for people above the 30s was just softball. Now they have an option to play softball or baseball."
"Lets face it," Lomascolo said.
"We all have to go to work on Monday, and playing baseball is something we all love to do. We areall not here because we have to be."