Opening day wouldn't open without effort

April 22, 1994|By Jody Roesler | Jody Roesler,Special to The Sun

One week after the 16-member board of the Lake Shore Baseball Association elected Joan Harris as president, she began work on tomorrow's opening day ceremonies.

That was in September.

Since then, she's commanded an army of volunteers to prepare six fields for 700 players on 51 teams from tee-ballers to 15-year-olds, arranged to stock the concession stands, coordinated an opening day parade for all 700 youngsters in the league and organized the league's annual fund-raising dance.

She'll relax Sunday, she says. "You're not really relaxed until you see it all go through."

The parade starts at 9 a.m. at Lake Shore Elementary School. The players will begin their seasons by marching from the school down Mountain Road to Looper's Field on North Shore Road.

County police will close the two-tenths of a mile stretch of Mountain Road for the parade, but emergency vehicles will be able to get through.

Grand Marshall Al Sanders, the WJZ-TV anchor man, will be joined by the Oriole Bird, county police Chief Robert Russell, County Council member Carl G. "Dutch" Holland and state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno for the parade and ceremonies at the field.

"This year's ceremony is a bigger deal because it's the last year down there. We want it to be really special," Ms. Harris said.

The league will move next year to the Lake Shore Athletic Complex under construction on Woods Road after more than 20 years on the land donated by the Looper family.

Ms. Harris began arranging guests last September.

Then she set up player registration and met frequently with county recreation and parks officials to start three traveling teams for players in age groups from 9 to 15 to compete in the county league this season.

"That way, all the kids can compete at their own levels," she said.

She also had to be sure the fields were prepared.

Last November, county crews dumped new sand on the infields. "That will help prevent rain-outs and injuries caused by the hard ground," she said.

Wednesday, the crews completed the fields by dumping a mix of fine clay and tiny stones on the sand.

Ms. Harris, who works full time as a health services business manager at University of Maryland Baltimore County, was there at 6:30 a.m. to be sure all went well.

She and other volunteers stayed until after 9 p.m. building pitchers' mounds and measuring base paths.

Thursday, she and Betsy Redmond stocked about 40 cases of soda and juice in the concession stand and waited for delivery of 80 pizzas, 1,000 hot dogs and "tons" of sunflower seeds. "Sunflower seeds have become the food of choice for baseball players," she said.

She also had to fix the mound and set bases for one more field, and wait for another volunteer to roll the infields to pack the loose dirt.

"They're really too soft," she said.

Tomorrow, she and the volunteers will begin setting up at 6 a.m. for the parade, ceremonies and games of opening day.

They will prepare the stage, hang streamers, set up the public address system, and blow up and hang 80 balloons. "We hope to get a helium tank donated," she said. "Otherwise we'll all be lightheaded."

Later, she will head to the elementary school to help get the players lined up in time.

When the games are over she will drive to Earleigh Heights Fire Hall to set up tables for the association's fund-raising dance.

She figures to be home by 5 p.m. to get cleaned up for the evening.

"Then I'll go back and work the dance and get home around two," she said.

In addition to her job and raising three children, Ms. Harris, 36, figures she puts in at least 40 hours a week working for the baseball association.

But she says she doesn't mind.

"It's worth it to see everyone enjoy it and see the kids have fun," she said.

"And I think I enjoy the last minute stress of it all."

Still, Sunday will be a good day. "You know, I'll be glad April 24th -- the day after. I'm just going to die, disconnect the phone and lie in bed."

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