Softball player, 65, gets lots of encouragement

August 31, 1994|By Dolly Merritt | Dolly Merritt,Special to the Sun

At 5-foot-2, Fanny Harmon has yet to whack a ball into the outfield during any of the softball games she has played. But the 65-year-old Ellicott City resident, who is the only woman on the Howard County Red senior citizen's slow-pitch team, is working on that.

"My dream is to eventually hit one over third base," said Mrs. Harmon, dressed in khaki pants and the team's red T-shirt and hat as she prepared to play one recent Friday. "The other team will usually come in real close when I am at bat."

During pre-game batting practice at Cedar Lane Park, Mrs. Harmon slammed a ball beyond third base, amid yells of encouragement from her teammates. In fact, she hit every pitch thrown to her as players from the opposing Bowie team began to arrive.

"You guys brought in a ringer," shouted a Bowie player.

"I think she's doing wonderfully," said George Horn, manager of the Red team -- a 60-plus (years of age) team sponsored by the county's Department of Recreation and Parks and the Harry H. Witzke Funeral Home in Ellicott City.

The 63-year-old Ellicott City resident recruited Mrs. Harmon when he discovered she was looking for a women's team, but could not find one in Howard County.

In July -- a few weeks after her July 9 marriage to Dick Harmon, 63, who also is a player of the Red team -- she started playing ball. Many of the couple's teammates, including Mr. Horn, attended the ceremony.

Although she played league softball in college, Mrs. Harmon said she had not picked up a bat since she played sandlot ball with her four children when they were young. She has a general interest in sports and especially enjoys attending University of Maryland basketball games with some of her nine grandchildren.

At first, Mrs. Harmon admits she was "a little nervous" at the prospect of playing on a softball team. "I didn't know how ridiculous I would be," she said. "But the team has been very supportive and Dick is very encouraging."

So far, she has played short field, catcher and designated hitter. In between, Mrs. Harmon keeps score for the team and gives the manager a run-down on who is hitting and their individual records.

Team support was evident in the game against the Bowie team, which is part of the nine-team Senior Beltway League. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Mrs. Harmon stepped up to the plate and the Bowie players moved forward. She hit the first pitch, which landed a few feet from the pitcher and was thrown out at first base.

Two innings later, Mrs. Harmon was at bat again, keeping a good eye on the ball. Shouts of "Way to look," and "Look for it," were heard from the field. After hitting a foul, she struck out.

No matter, she had her husband's shoulder to "cry" on as she pressed her forehead to his chest in frustration. But her outs didn't seem to bother her teammates.

"I am here to have fun," said Ray McCurtin, 60, of Odenton. "It doesn't matter to me if there are female players on the team. I used to play Friday evenings after work and we would choose up teams which consisted of men and women."

"I would like to see more women get involved in all athletic events," said Donald Morgan, 61, of Elkridge.

Mr. Harmon agrees.

"I think she is the only one in the league who wears earrings," he said proudly. "It's amazing to me how the teams have accepted Fanny -- team players from Dundalk commented on her improvement after playing us a second time. Another player kissed her after a game. It's worth getting up in the morning to come out here and watch her play."

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