Jim 'Catfish' Hunter is back in a ballpark for good cause

March 22, 1998|By Sylvia Badger

IT WAS LIKE the good old days for Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter. He was in his element at Oriole Park at Camden Yards signing baseballs for fans. Only this time, rather than preparing to pitch, he was at the ballpark as the honorary chairman of the Sugar Ball, a benefit for the American Diabetes Association.

Hunter, a diabetic, pitched the American League's first regular-season perfect game in 46 years on May 8, 1968. He left baseball in 1978, suffering from arm strain and diabetes, and retired to his farm in Hertford, N.C. Since then, he has traveled the country as a spokesman for Pharmecia & Upjohn. He also serves a role model for people living with diabetes and makes numerous public appearances in that capacity.

Among those with whom I spoke at the ball were chairman David Schumer; Sonya and Jerry Goodman, honored for their unselfish devotion to the Diabetes Association; Debbie and Mark Rosenberg, Mid-Atlantic Hospice Co.; Mayer and Donna Handelman, Woodhaven Pharmacy; Paula Yutzy, diabetes educator at Harbor Hospital; Donna Vaughn, a representative for Parke-Davis pharmaceutical company; and Carole Barney, ex-wife of Rex Barney, who, after a prestigious baseball career, adopted Baltimore as his home and became the very popular public-address announcer for the Orioles. He passed away last year from complications of diabetes.

Milestones in music

The Handel Choir of Baltimore marked three milestones recently with a concert at Old St. Paul's Church, followed by a reception at the Peabody Library. The concert paid tribute to T. Herbert Dimmock's 20th consecutive season as the music director of the choir, which was founded in 1934.

At the reception, Tom Eastman, president of the choir's board, told guests that Charles Price, an assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra for 20 years, was assuming the role of the choir's executive director, to help with the daily operation. The other good news shared by Eastman: The group is more than halfway to its goal of raising $100,000 for its endowment fund. If the goal is met, the group will receive a $50,000 challenge grant from the France-Merrick Foundation.

From October to June, this volunteer choir with 80-plus members performs seven concerts, including its highly celebrated Handel's "Messiah."

Artistic expressions

Expressions '98 is unique among fund-raisers. Its hands-on format encourages guests to sign up for acting, painting, dancing or singing classes, and then show what they've learned.

It's a fun-filled evening for all, and a great way for Baltimore's School for the Arts to raise both money and public interest in what its students do.

I stopped by as people were going into the ballroom for dinner -- by Classic Catering People -- and a show by the students. I chatted with Mayor Kurt Schmoke and his wife, Dr. Patricia Schmoke, proud parents of Kathy, a senior at the school. Kathy hasn't decided where she's headed after graduation, but she has been accepted by Juilliard.

I also spoke with Sally Michel, one of Baltimore's best-known volunteers; event chairs Meadow Lark Washington, Betsy Nelson, Esther Pearlstone and Amy Elias; Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier; David Simon, former head of the School for the Arts, and Ted and Courtney McKeldin. Courtney is working for the school these days.

Boys and girls

If Frank C. Williams Jr. could have his way, every boy and girl in Baltimore, ages 6-18, would be a card-carrying member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Maryland. I met Williams, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs, at a black-tie gala fund-raiser for his organization at the Belvedere Hotel.

At this time, there are more than 800 members at three area centers. The centers offer a variety of positive programs for children, but sadly, they only have enough money to remain open five days a week, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Seven days a week, that's a dream for Williams.

Everyone is excited about the newest club, Pleasant View Gardens in East Baltimore, which became a reality thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and a $50,000 commitment from Tyrone "Muggsy" Bogues, who grew up in East Baltimore and plays basketball for the Golden State Warriors.

At the gala, Williams introduced me to Paul Shelton, partner in the law firm of Piper & Marbury and president of the Boys & Girls Clubs' board. Shelton, who grew up in public housing, is very active in his role as board president.

Others whom I spotted were WJZ-TV's anchor, Vic Carter; WBAL-TV's public-relations head, Wanda Draper; and Jonathan Price, stockbroker and vice president of the clubs' board.

Pub Date: 3/22/98

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