Mount Airy youth league celebrating 30 years

NEIGHBORS

May 09, 1997|By Christy Kruhm | Christy Kruhm,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IT STARTED in 1967 with one baseball field, 60 players and four teams. Today, Mount Airy Youth Athletic Association, celebrating its 30th anniversary, boasts four lighted fields, a concession stand, 550 players and 51 teams.

Originally known as Mount Airy Little League, the organization changed its name in 1967. Several years later, it expanded to offer a football program for boys and cheerleading for girls.

Baseball games are played on the original field -- the junior league field as it's known today -- at the Mount Airy firemen's activity grounds at Twin Arch Road and Route 27.

Mount Airy Fire Company has been instrumental in the growth of MAYAA, according to Bob King, MAYAA president.

The fire company not only provided the group with its first baseball field in the early '60s, but it also allows the organization to use the land free. Each year MAYAA signs a land-use agreement with the fire company.

"We couldn't operate without the support of the fire company and local businesses," King said. "I'm so proud of this organization, and of our people, many who started out with the organization and are still involved."

Rob Alexander, 41, who played on the original Mount Airy Fire Company-sponsored team in 1967, is manager of his 12-year-old son Adam's team. Rob has followed in the footsteps of his father, Marvin Alexander, his coach 30 years ago.

The game hasn't changed much, but Alexander said he is aware of differences since he played as an 11-year-old.

Then, boys wore baseball uniforms made of heavy flannel, which were hot on a summer afternoon -- unlike the T-shirts and nylon pants players wear today.

Batters approached the plate to take aim at the outfield wall, a snow fence covered with black wire. They were armed with wooden, not aluminum, bats.

Lifelong Mount Airy resident Sam Beck has spent the past 15 years coaching his sons -- first, Tim and Ben, now 21 and 18, and today, his youngest son, Jeremy, 11.

Beck is manager of the Mount Airy Lions team. His father, Herman B. Beck, was the team's manager 30 years ago, when Sam played for it.

"Baseball was all we had to do; we played all summer," said Sam, noting that the emphasis on baseball has waned. "Now the kids have so much more to choose from -- other sports, video games. Their time is divided."

Beck's former teammate, Mike Smith, spends five or six days a week coaching his sons -- Chad, 9, and Ryan, 12. He said coaching was a natural choice because of the support he received as a boy from his father and other fathers.

MAYAA athletic director Richard Gardner has been active in the organization since 1977, holding the office of president six times and treasurer three times.

Gardner joined MAYAA when his brother Alex Gardner played. Richard is on the fields most nights, calling plays as umpire or coaching the J & P Pizza team.

He says he is amazed by the organization's growth. In 1980, when he served his first term as president, the operating budget was $30,000. Today, that budget is $207,000.

Eyeglass recycling

Mount Airy Lions Club is asking for donations of old, unwanted eyeglasses to the Lions' Recycle for Sight program.

May is the focal month for the year-round, national Lions recycling program. Since the 1930s, glasses have been refurbished and distributed to the poor in developing countries where eye care is often unaffordable and inaccessible.

According to Burnie Baker, committee chair, the glasses are shipped to the Lions' regional recycling center, where they are cleaned, categorized by prescription and prepared for distribution by Lions and other groups.

To donate prescription glasses and sunglasses, place them in specially marked collection bins at: Dr. Magaziner's Eye Care Center; Dr. Kotlicky's office; Mount Airy Pharmacy; Twin Arch Eye Care Center; and Mount Airy Senior Center.

Information: 301-829-LION.

Christy Kruhm's Southwest Carroll neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 5/09/97

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