Coach, Scout Guided Famous And Not-so-famous

December 11, 1991|By Ed McDonough | Ed McDonough,Staff writer

Sterling F. "Sheriff" Fowble was known for influencing many Major League Baseball players from the Baltimore area.

He also touched thelives of many who never made it big.

Fowble was known for developing baseball talent as a longtime amateur coach and major league scout. Yet for every major league star like Rob Swoboda or Al Kaline, there were others like Al Miller, Bill Pfeiffer, Dave Dolch.

Swoboda helped lead the New York Mets to the 1969 World Series, and Kaline is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

ButFowble, the Hampstead native and Western Maryland College graduate who died Friday at 76, was a role model for many others. Miller and Pfeiffer are longtime educators with the Baltimore County public schools, and Dolch is a college football coach. All three are doing what Fowble spent 46 years of his life doing -- working with kids.

Fowblecoached 14- to 16-year-old amateur baseball teams for more than fourdecades in Baltimore and was a scout for the Cincinnati Reds and NewYork Mets. That was in addition to his regular job of 41 years as anaccountant at Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore.

Fowble grew up near Hampstead and was a multisport athlete at Westminster High. He later played four sports -- baseball, football, soccer and basketball -- at Western Maryland.

And though he lived in Baltimore for most of hisadult life, he remembered his roots. He was a charter inductee in the WMC Hall of Fame in 1978 and helped form the Carroll County Oldtimers Baseball Association. He also was a member of the Oldtimers Baseball Association of Maryland.

"I was just sitting with him a few weeks ago at the (Carroll County) Oldtimers banquet," said Earl Hersh, supervisor of physical education and athletics for Carroll County schools and himself a former pro baseball player. "I never played for him. My encounterswith him were as a coach (while Fowble was a scout). He was a real good friend."

After graduating from Western Maryland in 1936, Fowble played briefly for a minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, but a football injury made throwing difficult for the young outfielder.

A few years later, he began coaching a team at the request of some boys in his East Baltimore neighborhood, and the baseball coaching legend was born. Along with Sykesville resident Walter Youse, who coached the boys when they grew older, Fowble sent a dozen players to the majors, including Taneytown native Jim Spencer and Hampstead native Moose Hass.

"We had no children of our own, but every year we kept 18 boys out of trouble," recalled Fowble's wife of 51 years, Virginia Karow Fowble, also a WMC graduate. "We were the richest couple in the world."

Virginia Fowble was the scorekeeper for her husband's teams.

Perhaps Baltimore Orioles General Manager Roland Hemond said it best at an old-timers banquet last year: "If there were more men like Sheriff Fowble and Walter Youse in other cities, baseball would never have to worry about anything."

Funeral services were private, but a memorial service is planned at 11 a.m. Saturday at Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St. in Baltimore. In lieu of flowers, donation may be made to the Shriners Crippled Childrens Hospital or Boumi Temple.

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