Stunned league mourns coach killed by lightning

June 17, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

The game of baseball lost a great coach and community worker Wednesday when James Marc Rickels of Sykesville was fatally struck by lightning after a Little League game, friends and league officials said yesterday.

"He was out there for the kids, not some male ego thing," said Wayne Hollenbaugh, vice president of the 75-team Sykesville Baseball League. "He was there to teach them baseball, ethics and all-around fair play.

"I wish we could have 75 other [coaches] just like him."

Witnesses said Mr. Rickels, 34, was struck after canceling the game he had coached for his 8-year-old son, Brian. The game had been delayed and players took cover for about 15 minutes when a storm blew into the area; play resumed when the sky cleared, league officials said.

Games were finally called off when lightning hit the league's clubhouse at the Obrecht Road ball fields. Mr. Rickels, who was gathering equipment off the field with several other coaches, was struck by a second bolt of lightning in the area.

Most of the children were off the field by that time.

Children at area schools who wanted to talk about the incident met with crisis counselors and principals yesterday morning.

Sykesville league officials said lightning regulations, which call for delaying a game and seeking shelter for 15 to 30 minutes if a storm approaches, had been followed Wednesday night.

However, the league's board of directors planned to meet last night to review regulations to see if they could be made safer.

Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at the Charles L. Stevens Funeral Home, 1501 Fort Ave., Baltimore. The funeral will be at 9 a.m. tomorrow at St. Clements Church in Landsdowne, with burial at the Holy Cross Cemetery.

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