Keefer takes tough task as AAABA's new leader

SIDELINES

February 24, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

Steve Keefer left the on-deck circle Saturday at his home field in Severna Park and stepped to the plate. He is now batting for Lew Holmes, who has been a big hitter for a long time.

Calling it "a labor of love," Keefer succeeded Holmes as president and commissioner of the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association on Saturday at a league meeting at Kinder Park.

Holmes, who was the architect of the county organization for teen-age baseball players in 1977, was the group's only president/commissioner. He urged Keefer to become the second.

The reason Holmes started the organization is the very reason he decided to step down -- he was "tired of dealing with the county Rec and Parks Department."

Rec and Parks' idea of a summer baseball program is a 12-game schedule over three months with no emphasis on competition. Holmes changed that, and under his leadership county summer baseball for high school players was taken to a higher level.

The fruits of the extensive AAABA program are seen in the great success of the county's high school teams. Anne Arundel County, in the eyes of pro and college scouts, has become Maryland's amateur baseball hotbed, and the new president intends to keep it going.

"I'm committed to the AAABA," said Keefer, a native of Milton, Pa. who pitched and played the outfield at Bloomsburg (Pa.) University.

"This is a great baseball program and when Lew asked me if I would take over for him, I accepted. Lew has done an awful lot for the organization and I hope to carry on what he started."

Keefer has been involved as a coach and administrator in the Greater Severna Park Athletic Association Green Hornets' program for the past decade.

A Shipley's Choice resident who is employed by the Department of Defense, Keefer moved from Prince Georges' County to Anne Arundel with his family 10 years ago.

Keefer has coached the Hornets' 16-and-under Mickey Mantle team the past two years while also serving the AAABA as vice president of the 16-and-under Joe E. Brown League.

Keefer has earned a good reputation as an administrator and a leader. He's fair and someone you can trust and rely on to make sure things run smoothly.

Keefer has the inordinate ability of being able to settle differences and diffuse fires among the most stubborn coaches. He listens with an open mind to both sides and comes up with a workable solution.

He's a diplomat. He can be a good politician if the situation calls for it, and he showed those characteristics as VP of the Joe E. Brown League.

That's important because when you are dealing with nearly 40 countywide organizations, players and coaches, most of whom take their baseball seriously, it's not an easy job. It's strictly volunteer work, can be time-consuming and can test one's patience.

Holmes loved it, and his enthusiasm showed until recent months when it waned out of disappointment over the direction of Joe Cannon Stadium.

"I've had enough with Rec and Parks and the Friends of Joe Cannon Committee," said Holmes. "My heart is just not in it anymore because of the way things went with Cannon and it wouldn't have been fair for me to continue with the AAABA feeling the way I do."

The Friends of Joe Cannon Committee was his idea, and he had hoped for more of a role by volunteers in running the stadium in Harmans and less on the part of the bureaucracy.

"They do it in other parts of the country, but it's not going to happen here with Rec and Parks," said Holmes. "They didn't want to listen to me and let the teams and their volunteers run it and at the same time make money for the county.

"I'm disgusted because Joe Cannon Stadium was supposed to have been built for youth baseball and I'm not too sure it was. I'm getting out, but will help Steve in any way I can."

Keefer said a general membership meeting is set for 6 p.m. on March 7 at the Kinder Park clubhouse.

Teams interested in playing in any of the leagues -- 16 and under, Joe E. Brown and Mickey Mantle; 18 and under, Connie Mack and American Legion -- can call Keefer at (410) 987-5473 before the meeting to let him know which league they will enter.

"It's important to be there or send a representative," said Keefer.

It's the start of a new era and the county baseball community can feel good about the new leader. His job will be easier because of the wonderful job turned in by his predecessor.

As different as they are in terms of personality and style, Keefer and Holmes are the same. Each knows how to get the job done.

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