As all-stars gear up, keep in mind what's important

July 08, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

In the six years I've been working for this newspaper, I've come to look at a calendar a little differently. Each season immediately brings to mind a certain sport: High school football in the fall, prep basketball when the temperature drops below freezing, prep baseball when it warms up again in spring, and as spring turns into summer, the little leagues take precedent.

In no month does youth baseball shine brighter than July, when all-star tournaments of every kind dot the landscape. Across Washington County - indeed, across all of America - kids of all ages are sprinting onto a diamond as proud members of teams representing their leagues.

Zachary Beard would have been one of them. The 11-year-old was like many his age - he loved sports, particularly basketball and baseball, and played at South Mountain Little League, which will open its defense of the District 1 11-12 title at home this evening.


Tragically, Beard was killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident near his Boonsboro home Saturday, surely leaving family and friends - including many who will be at South Mountain this evening - asking themselves the one-word question which no one is capable of answering. With certainty, Beard's young life came to an end way too soon.

Beard's death should serve as a reminder to all of us what's truly important, especially as the tournaments he would have been a part of take place.

A few years ago, the outcome of an 11-12 all-star game was decided in part by an umpire's ruling, which many in the crowd did not like. Those fans vehemently protested, to the point where police had to be called in to restore order. On a few other occasions in recent years - including this year - games have been marred by fights in the stands.

All of this over what should be a simple game played by kids for fun.

The emphasis in that sentence is fun.

Please remember, the kids who take the fields over the next days and weeks have already been deemed a cut above by their leagues. They are, after all, all-stars. That's an honor in itself.

Be proud of them. Rejoice in their successes and be supportive in their failures. Cherish the experience, wins or losses aside. Most of all, make sure they know you care.

Because as we've all seen in the cruelest of ways this week, life gives no guarantees for tomorrow.

Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at

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