John Charles Grund Sr., 79, Camden Yards security guard


John Charles Grund Sr., a retired Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. supervisor who became an Orioles security guard at Camden Yards, died Saturday at Good Samaritan Hospital of complications from a stroke. The longtime Gardenville resident was 79.

Mr. Grund was born and raised in Highlandtown and attended Patterson High School. He dropped out of school his senior year and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1944.

He was sent to Hawaii to train for a possible invasion of Japan that was averted after the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs.

Discharged with the rank of private, Mr. Grund returned to Baltimore and joined BGE in 1948. For many years, he worked a second job on weekends at Louis J. Smith Sporting Goods in Highlandtown.

"He was a huge believer in hard work paying off, whether it was related to his job, sports practice, his children's homework, or just about anything," said his son, John Charles Grund Jr. of Arnold.

Mr. Grund worked in BGE's purchasing department in Baltimore and later at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant until his 1990 retirement.

An avid Orioles, Colts and University of Maryland basketball and football fan, Mr. Grund seemingly landed the job of a lifetime when he went to work in 1991 in security at Camden Yards.

He was assigned to what is called Home Plate Plaza -- an information booth -- where he handled the press corps and disbursed tickets and passes to visiting players' families, celebrities and national and local political figures.

Mr. Grund would arrive at Home Plate Plaza, near the main gate, 4 1/2 hours before the start of a game and would remain on the job an hour after the game ended.

"He was one heck of a nice guy who was very pleasant and nice to everybody. Where he worked was a point of entry, and even though he was a gatekeeper, he always treated everyone with respect," said Gordon L. Kennard Sr., supervisor of pregame field security at Camden Yards.

"John was the lead man there, and it was a very high-profile job. He answered questions and made sure everything was OK and would get folks on their way," said Bill Schuttler, who worked with Mr. Grund.

"Some days, it would be wall-to-wall people who had questions about tickets or where to go. But being an ex-Marine -- he was semper fi all the way -- he easily handled the pressure," he said.

Mr. Schuttler added: "He was a special kind of guy who was more like a brother and mentor to me than a co-worker."

"He was so nice and one of the few people in the world who actually liked the media. Whenever he saw me, he'd walk up and give me a handshake," recalled Buster Olney, a former New York Times and Sun sports reporter, who is now a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine.

"He was the best kind of baseball fan, who was forever distracted by what was going on with the Orioles. I think he was probably a Red Sox fan in a previous life," Mr. Olney said with a laugh.

"He had an amazing insight into the game and liked picking your brain. He always knew things that were going on with the team on or off the field, and I always wondered how he knew them," Mr. Olney said.

Mr. Grund retired from Camden Yards in 2001.

He was patriotic and throughout his life remained loyal to the Marine Corps, his family said.

"He had a tremendous sense of patriotism, which he instilled in his family. He loved going to parades and tattoos at Fort McHenry, and would always cry when he heard "The Star-Spangled Banner" played," said a daughter, Nancy E. Grund of Stoneleigh.

Mr. Grund liked vacationing in Ocean City and eating steamed crabs with family and friends.

A memorial service was held Sunday.

Also surviving are his wife of 55 years, the former Eileen Burke; two other daughters, Kathy Grund-Epley of Yuma, Ariz., and Barbara L. Benton of Georgetown, Del.; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

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