Former Oriole Shetrone still a good sport Bad knees, heart attack don't keep him off field

July 06, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

He has had a heart attack and he hobbles on arthritic knees, but for Barry Shetrone the sports beat goes on.

The former Orioles outfielder will mark his 55th birthday today the same way he has marked many others, by playing softball in the Anne Arundel County Senior Softball 55-and-over division.

In 1959, Shetrone was promoted from the minor leagues to the Orioles bearing promise -- as another Southern High alumnus had a few years before. Al Kaline had gone to the Detroit Tigers and landed in the Hall of Fame.

When Shetrone arrived that July day in Detroit, Orioles manager Paul Richards put him in the lineup right away. In his first at-bat, Shetrone, a left-handed hitter, hit a blooper into shallow left field. Blessed with blazing speed, he wound up with a triple as the ball split two onrushing outfielders.

"I never saw his feet touch the ground," Richards said.

But Shetrone's major-league career, with the Washington Senators as well as the Orioles, fizzled. In parts of five seasons, he played in 60 games, batted .205 and stole only three bases.

"I wasn't on base enough to get the green light to steal," Shetrone said wryly.

Although he was finished in the majors after 1963, Shetrone never lost his thirst for sports. Hardly a year has passed when he hasn't played baseball or softball and basketball.

Shetrone, who lives in Glen Burnie, weaves softball around his job as an account manager for an insurance brokerage company, C.O.B. Inc., in Towson. With doubleheaders twice a week and a fall league, he will play in more than 100 games this year.

"When we went to the nationals, there were brackets for 70-and-over and 75-and-over guys," Shetrone said. "If I can do this the rest of my life, it would be fine. I've never stopped playing sports, and won't. But I'll probably have to give up basketball this year because my knees can't take the pounding."

It wasn't until last week that Shetrone played in his customary outfield position with Danny's. He had arthroscopic knee surgery last October, and had to settle for playing first base early in the season.

When he reached base, he needed a pinch runner. Barry Shetrone, of all people, needing a pinch runner.

"If only my knees were as good as my heart," Shetrone said.

Four years ago, during a game on a hot August night in which he had a single, double and home run, Shetrone started to feel punk and numb. He was rushed to the hospital, where, three hours later, a blood clot went through his heart.

"If they hadn't given me a few zappers right then, those jolts, I'd be dead," Shetrone said.

By Christmas, he was playing basketball again. His only concession to the heart attack is an aspirin a day.

Shetrone went with the Wooden Nickel 50-and-over team to the Senior World Series last year in Detroit. In a field of 22 teams, Wooden Nickel tied for fifth with Betty and Jake's, also of Baltimore.

Now Anne Arundel's 55-and-over leagues are preparing to be hosts to a Senior Softball USA region qualifier in four age brackets July 14-18 at fields in Severn and Millersville.

Danny's, for sure, has the old pros -- Hal Grier, Art Ehlers, Frenchy LeTan, Howie Becraft and Tom Kay, the team's relic at 68, all former minor-leaguers. Then there is Fred Valentine, a former Oriole who makes an occasional appearance, and Shetrone.

After splitting a doubleheader with Spindler's last week, its first defeat of the season, Danny's has a 28-1 record. Clearly, Danny's will enter the regional qualifier next week on a roll.

"At first, softball was just for fun and trying to win the league," Shetrone said. "Now there's the extra motivation of reaching the nationals through these qualifiers."

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