Lancers club matures to an inspiring 50 3 boys started group in city neighborhood to instill virtue and duty

June 10, 1996|By Marego Athans | Marego Athans,SUN STAFF

Stan Dorsey was a successful student and standout athlete at Duke University, but there was a void. He said he longed for a different sort of fulfillment -- plentiful during his high school days when, as a member of the Lancers Boys Club, he raised money for scholarships and tutored needy children.

So after he graduated, as classmates headed for brokerage firms and business schools, Dorsey spent a year working with troubled children in Durham, N.C.

"Something tugged on me to give back to the community," he said. "I didn't feel like I was making a difference. It was my Lancers experience drawing me in. I vowed it was a void I'd never leave empty again."

Dorsey, 23, a graduate student at the University of Missouri journalism school, was among more than 200 current and former members who celebrated the golden anniversary of the Lancers Boys Club during the weekend. It is a Baltimore institution that aims to foster a spirit of virtue, personal responsibility and public duty.

Among some 3,000 alumni are Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and many other civic and business leaders.

The Lancers began in the city's Ashburton neighborhood in 1946, when three boys -- A. B. "Buzzy" Krongard, Jerry Sachs and Kenny Parker -- decided to start a club and went to their older neighbor, Bobby Hammerman, then 17, for advice. Buzzy is chairman and CEO of Alex. Brown Inc., Sachs is retired president of the Washington Bullets and Capitals, and Parker, a West Point graduate, became owner of a national computer company.

And Bobby, Baltimore Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman, remains the club's inspiration and mentor after five decades of recruiting and guiding boys and lecturing at legendary Friday night meetings, which feature famous speakers and the judge's famous (lengthy) preachings about values, motivation, ambition, discipline and the need to add breadth to life.

"Everyone here has an enormous dedication to Bob. He has helped shape every one of their lives," said Lewis Noonberg, an alumnus and managing partner of the Washington law office of Piper & Marbury.

These days, Lancers boys tutor 122 middle school students each week; work with disabled youngsters at Children's Hospital, with the aged and in soup kitchens; undertake environmental projects; provide relief for Bosnian refugees; and raise scholarship money. They also play basketball and lacrosse and attend the theater.

"As enthusiastic as I was 50 years ago, I'm more so now," Hammerman said Saturday as the Crystal Strings ensemble serenaded the head table at the Towson Sheraton.

They came from as far away as California, Boston and Minnesota for the reunion -- and for the Friday night meeting, which featured U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno as keynote speaker.

Schmoke said he cut short a trip to Istanbul, Turkey, where he was part of a U.S. delegation to a United Nations conference, to attend the party. Guests, including parents with grown sons, swelled attendance to nearly 300.

"This is a big deal. In some really formative years, this club had a major influence on our lives," said Schmoke, who at 14 became one of the Lancers' first black members and traveled around the world playing lacrosse with its team.

Three hundred guests, 300 stories.

Tom Pedroni, a medical lawyer, remembered when he was a 14-year-old athlete from a working-class South Baltimore neighborhood; Hammerman spotted him and decided he had the proper fire in his belly. He went to Pedroni's house to tell his parents about the club and lectured the boy on expanding his horizons beyond sports.

"He said, 'Get interested in theater and arts,' " Pedroni recalled. "He asked me about college. I was a home-grown South Baltimore boy, and going away to college was a foreign concept. I said I probably wanted to stay in Baltimore. He said the college for you is Johns Hopkins. I never forgot that."

Pedroni evolved from athlete to student -- largely because of the Lancers, he said -- and graduated from the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland law school. He is now a coach and adviser to Lancers boys.

"Aside from my parents, it's been the single most positive influence on my life," he said. "Bob was a great role model. I grew up in a neighborhood where I could easily have gone a different way."

Pub Date: 6/10/96

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