Cecil knew how to get things done


August 06, 1993|By PAT O'MALLEY

Walt Cecil died July 26 much the same way he made his contributions to youth sports in North County, quietly.

"Ferndale-Linthicum," as he always insisted on calling the community he loved, has lost a great friend, one who many of the current youth volunteers never had the pleasure of knowing that well.

Cecil died of a heart attack at 62 after giving many of his early years to the Linthicum-Ferndale Youth Athletic Association.

While he managed and coached teams that his three sons -- William, Daniel and Tim -- played on, Cecil was one of those behind-the-scenes guys who got things done without a lot of fanfare.

"Walt was a very special person," said former LFYAA and Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association official Lew Holmes.

"He practically raised all the money for that concession stand at the LF fields [near Apache Field and North County High]. Walt was our finance chairman, and he worked his tail off raising money to build the concession stand that did not cost the taxpayers a penny."

The concession stand and clubhouse at the LF fields was constructed nearly 20 years ago when the county did not get involved with putting up such things for youth sports associations.

Cecil's dedication and organization of more than 100 people to work on the building project resulted in a concession clubhouse that soon became the standard for other county sites.

"After people saw ours and how well done it was, the county started building them in the latter years and the different organizations would always ask the county to build one like LF's," said Holmes.

"But that was just one of many volunteer projects Walt got into in baseball and basketball in our community, which he always called Ferndale-Linthicum, not Linthicum-Ferndale as it is commonly called. About 15 years ago, he was one of the first people to have open heart surgery and after that his time with the kids was limited."

LFYAA named one of its annual summer youth baseball tournaments after Cecil at Holmes' urging.

"That meant a lot to Walt," said his wife, Rose. "He was still busy and staying active practically up to the day he died. He mowed a lawn the day before he went in the hospital and passed away."

Holmes calls Cecil his "mentor" and credits him for fueling his own dedication to youths.

"Walt knew how to handle kids and treated everyone as a gentleman," said Holmes.

"When I coached in the early years, I would go off on umpires, and get all bent out of shape over a call. Then, I would watch in amazement as Walt would come out and quietly talk to the umpires and get the call reversed in his favor. He had a great way with people, and I just wish more people in our community knew how much he did for so many kids."

Holmes himself has contributed much to the community and county in youth baseball, and he continues to make progress during therapy following a stroke this spring.

Holmes said, "I'm doing great because of Sandy [his wife] and so many great friends who have come by to visit and take me out to ball games. Tell everybody I've got a way to go, but I'm getting there."

* Frank "Jocko" Svoboda has put the call out for his Anne Arundel County High School Fall Baseball League. A meeting is set for 7 p.m. Sunday at Saw Mill Creek Park on Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie.

Players of high school age who have high school eligibility left can play in the Saturday and/or Sunday leagues beginning Sept. 11 and running until Nov. 14. Teams interested in playing should send a representative to the meeting or call Svoboda at (410) 761-0642.

Also, a fall league for 13- to 15-year-old teams is being organized and those interested should attend the 6 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at Sixth Street Field (Baybrook) in Brooklyn. Call (410) 647-2499 on Sunday, Aug. 15 for further information.

* Finally, the 14th annual Anne Arundel County Sun-Oriolelanders All-Star Game is set for Sunday, Sept. 5, at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.

Tryout information and more details on the game for high school and junior college players from Anne Arundel County will appear in my Aug. 18 column.

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