Youth would lose a champ in Holmes


January 27, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

Anne Arundel County youth baseball is about to lose a devoted volunteer.

Disenchanted with county Rec and Parks and the Friends of Joe Cannon Stadium Committee, Lew Holmes is stepping down as president of the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association.

Holmes, who started the organization for high school-age and older in 1977, is expected to announce his resignation officially at an association meeting in two weeks.

Longtime Severna Park coach Steve Keefer is interested in succeeding Holmes to run the association, which fields teams in three age groups from 15 to 20.

Holmes' dedication has sparked tremendous growth and made Anne Arundel County a hotbed for summer baseball, with local high schools reaping the benefits.

"I just can't deal with government employees any longer," said Holmes, who recently withdrew as a board member of the Cannon Committee.

"To be fair to the organization, I'm going to resign at the next meeting because my heart is just not in it anymore."

A series of setbacks for Holmes during the past year have discouraged him.

One of the five volunteers who served on the committee that designed Cannon Stadium, which opened in September 1990, Holmes increasingly became frustrated with its operation.

Shouting matches and bickering between Holmes and Don Brooks, the county's sports facilities manager who runs Cannon Stadium, committee president Dave Conrad and Joe Cannon were commonplace at meetings.

It was Holmes' idea to form the Friends of Cannon Committee as a way for the youth baseball teams to work hand in hand with Rec and Parks with the operation of the stadium. The bottom line, the way Holmes saw it, was for the youth teams and county to profit together.

Holmes, who never has taken a penny for his efforts and instead has spent money out of his pocket to support youth baseball during the past 20 years, had hoped to persuade the Cannon Committee to take the stadium away from the bureaucracy with the volunteers taking a more active part.

It was Holmes' contention that teams and the county could save money on fees by having volunteers, rather than paid county employees and contractors, man the Cannon concession stand.

Money from admissions and concessions goes to the county.

To his credit, Holmes wanted to change all that and had hoped to be elected president of the Cannon Committee back in December. After he didn't get enough support, Holmes said, "I had people I thought were my friends vote against me."

There was enough opposition to Holmes that Conrad, who runs the county Oldtimers League, was re-elected.

An outspoken, stand-up kind of guy, Holmes turned off some of the people in the Cannon group. That's too bad because it has resulted in youth baseball's losing its best friend on that committee.

Ditto for the AAABA, where Holmes has been perplexed by what he calls his "annual battle" with Rec and Parks baseball supervisor Ron Mox over umpire subsidy money.

"When Lew first started the organization, we had our differences, but we worked it out, and we've had good communication since," Mox said. "This is the first time the umpire subsidy went this long."

Mox also added that "Lew has said it [that he was going to resign] before, and I hope he doesn't because he's the backbone of Anne Arundel County baseball."

Many baseball people won't believe it until he actually does it, but at a county Hall of Fame meeting I attended with Holmes recently, he seemed sincere.

That night he told everyone, "I'm changing my direction and getting out of baseball and concentrating my efforts on raising money for the Hall of Fame."

Holmes said yesterday that he "would still be willing to help out the AAABA, but not as president," and that he will continue to be regional director for the Continental Amateur Baseball Association.

My gut feeling is that Holmes is serious about resigning, and that's too bad for county baseball. Without him, the AAABA will be like baseball without an umpire. They still can play, but it won't be the same.

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