Thomas J. Boyle, 87, conductor, baseball fan

July 06, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Thomas J. Boyle, a retired train conductor with a passion for baseball, died of cancer Friday at Stella Maris Hospice. The Hamilton resident was 87.

Mr. Boyle was born in West Baltimore and left Loyola High School after his sophomore year to work in the accounting office of the old Pennsylvania Railroad, which was later taken over by Amtrak.

Mr. Boyle wanted to work on the rails, so after 12 years he traded in his desk job for one as a fireman, shoveling coal to stoke train engines, said his youngest son, Thomas P. Boyle of Baltimore. He worked his way up to brakeman, trainman and finally to conductor.

Mr. Boyle became a familiar sight to commuters traveling between Baltimore and Washington, a route on which he greeted riders for 15 years until his retirement in 1977.

He maintained a bantering rapport with regular commuting writer George Will, according to his wife of 64 years, the former Catherine R. Freeze. He also enjoyed seeing baseball players on the trains and told his family he'd met Pete Rose.

Baseball was Mr. Boyle's other passion. He loved the game as much as he loved his work on the trains, his son said. He played on several neighborhood teams, including semiprofessional squads. On weekends and after work, he wore out his catcher's mitt fielding foul balls and fastballs.

"He used to watch guys like Nolan Ryan on TV and say how much he'd love to catch for them," said his son. "The catcher is the director of the team and my dad loved being the boss."

Mr. Boyle continued his love of the game through coaching and managing teams in Northeast Baltimore, where he was part of a group that established the Hamilton and North Harford Little League associations.

Baseball was a constant in the Boyle household. All of his sons learned to play the game and his son said that Mr. Boyle drilled his philosophy of the game into them: "Win or lose, as long as you gave it everything, you had nothing to be ashamed of."

After his retirement, Mr. Boyle joined the Old-Timers Baseball Association.

He was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He crooned standards with the Singing Knights of its Notre Dame Council 2901 and acted as the singing group's business manager.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church, 5302 Harford Road.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by two other sons, Michael Boyle of Gaithersburg and Gregory Boyle of Kansas City, Mo.; a daughter, Kathleen Castleman of Evergreen, Colo.; seven grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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