'The Visitor' Makes His Preferences Known To Board

Route 2 -- A weekly journey through Anne Arundel County

October 09, 1991|By Dianne Williams Hayes Kathy Frazier Paul Shread Robert Lee

This is the saga of The Visitor.

During a Board of Education meeting last week, President Jo Ann Tollenger asked if anyone wanted to talk about something not on the agenda.

That's when The Visitor, whose outbursts at board meetings have become his trademark, eased into action.

Slowly taking off his yellow baseball cap, he tugs at his blue-and-white striped pullover shirtand tucks it back down over his belly. He takes the newspaper from underneath his arm.

The man, who is believed to not have any children in county schools, grips the microphone, coughs, loudly clears histhroat and asks, "Is it on?"

Smirks flash across board members' faces as they patiently watch him settle in. They assure him that he definitely is being heard.

The Visitor scoots his chair forward, then rattles off a laundry list of complaints about the board and supplies his own ideas about what should be board policy.

"You should get test results back faster," he chastises. He tells board member Nancy Gist that she "must learn to overcome."

Warned that his two minutes are up, he reluctantly relinquishes the microphone.

Parents from Central Middle show a 20-minute videotape of the hazards faced bystudents traveling to school down narrow roads. Then The Visitor is back, quizzing parents and telling the board what they should do about this.

Tollenger warns him about his outbursts.

"I just listened to a half-hour of nonsense," he says, with the Central Middle parents still seated at the microphone. "Now I want my two minutes, so start counting."

Pounding her gavel and yelling over his voice, Tollenger demands that he give up the microphone.

"My two minutes are not up," he yells.

A school administrator slowly walks across the board room, nods at two undercover officers -- assigned to board meetings by the county sheriff's office -- to take action and moves back to his seat.

"We do not mean to be discourteous to you," Tollengerstresses, "but we are asking you to take your seat."

She pounds her gavel. The audience sits in silence. Glances are thrown at the officers, but they stare blankly out into the crowd.

Will they put anend to this?

Many have debated why school board meetings need so much security. Maybe now they'll come in handy. Any minute now, the officers will stand up, stare at The Visitor with stony eyes and intimidate him into silence. Maybe they will escort him to the door.

They do nothing.

The Visitor stands, slowly puts his yellow baseballcap back on, tucks the newspaper under his arm and stares at board members for a moment. As he walks to the door, he yells again, warningboard members to remember his suggestions.

The meeting continues.The Visitor walks past a security guard at the front door and heads upstairs to the administrative offices, where he remains for a long time.

No one escorts him to the door or makes sure he doesn't offermore of his suggestions to other workers in the building. The security guard at the front desk never looks up.

The Visitor, everyone assumes, will return.


For the 36th player toemerge from the Orioles' dugout in Sunday's farewell to Memorial Stadium, the music from "Field of Dreams" was a perfect backdrop for histrot to where home plate had been.

"Running out on that field Sunday was a dream," said Odenton's John Stefero, a catcher who played nine games (getting game-winning hits in back-to-back contests in September) for the Orioles in 1983 and 52 in 1986. "Just to be out there with the talent that was on that field was a compliment to me.

"I had no idea the level of emotion it would cause. I'm not an emotionalperson, but I felt the moment, and it really got to me when (Earl) Weaver went out there."

The closing ceremony on the Memorial Stadium field was just the climax to a weekend to remember for Stefero, whonot only played for the Orioles but grew up rooting for them.

"How many people get to be out on the field with the people they idolized growing up?" Stefero asked. "Boog Powell and Dave McNally were my idols."

He had met Powell in spring training, but encountered McNally for the first time at a dinner the Orioles played host to Saturday. The team also had a dinner and party for the players Sunday night.

For the final game, most of the former Orioles were scattered withtheir families throughout the mezzanine seats on the first-base side. Stefero was seated with outfielders Jim Dwyer and Gary Roenicke andsecond baseman Rich Dauer.

During the fourth inning, the players gathered in a makeshift locker room in the Hit and Run Club to changeinto uniforms provided by the team.

"The field of dreams started to set in at that point," Stefero said. "What the organization did for the players alone was amazing, and they should be thanked for that.

"For me to be in that locker room was special . . . to see the talent in that room. I got to meet players I got to watch play when I was 5 or 6 years old."

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