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Fans plot own strategies

July 25, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT -Before Little League baseball managers plot their teams' next bunt, steal or pickoff play, fans plan their own strategy.

Such as, what's the best place to watch?

On Saturday at Ebersole Field - home of the 2004 Maryland Little League Baseball tournament for 11- and 12-year-olds - different fans had different approaches.

Brian Timken of Tyaskin in Wicomico County, Md., sat on a wood platform on the first-base side, at the foot of the bleachers.

Timken's son, Rob, was playing for West Salisbury of District 8 in the 3 p.m. game against Rising Sun of District 5.

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About four weeks ago, Rob Timken broke his right wrist during practice. The cast came off on Friday.

Rob, a second baseman, got into Saturday's game as a pinch runner in the first inning.

"We're excited," his father said. "He went to all the practices and all the games while he was injured."

Debbie Keefer of Williamsport sat on lawn chairs with her husband, Rick, and son, Jason, about 3 feet beyond the rightfield fence, in the shadow of the scoreboard.

"You kind of see all the action," Debbie Keefer said. "Everything's right in front of you - and there's a little bit of shade."

Bill Brandt of Hagerstown stood midway between right field and center field, at the top of a two-tiered terrace.

Brandt also had no specific rooting interest.

"I just like baseball ... the young kids," Brandt said. "There's much more enjoyment than watching the adults."

Brandt said the scoreboard is a good viewing spot about 6 p.m., when it casts a greater shadow.

It wasn't quite 4 p.m. yet and the sun still was high in the sky.

A white tent in straightaway center field shielded Ezra Turner of Hagerstown and Gary Gruber of Williamsport as they watched the action. Both said they played in the early days of Conococheague Little League, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Standing next to Turner, Ken Moore of Williamsport said he remembered when the town hosted the state championship 16 years ago. His son, Kerry, was 11 and played ball. Kerry Moore now is a police officer in Montgomery County, Md.

Turner said he went on to play in the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league system in Roanoke, Va.

What happened from there?

"A little bit of here, a little bit of there," he said, and the men who know him laughed along with him.

Tommy Hoffmaster, who manages a Little League team in Jefferson County, W.Va., and Jimmy Nichols, one of his coaches, relaxed in folding chairs in left-center field - on the bed of Hoffmaster's Ford F-150 pickup truck.

After a sharp climb just past the leftfield fence, the ground at Ebersole Field rises gradually, up to where Hoffmaster had parked, and beyond.

"I wanted to come see some good baseball," Hoffmaster said. "It's a real nice field. I like that you can sit up on a bank and watch the game.

"The worst seats may be the close ones."

Hoffmaster said his team finished second in its district to a team from Martinsburg, W.Va., which finished second in the state.

Donald and Connie Richardson, who live just outside Hagerstown, watched from foul territory in left field, next to the well-groomed flower bed.

Connie Richardson said she followed Halfway Little League's team because she works at Lincolnshire Elementary School. But when Halfway was eliminated, she became a Maugansville fan.

A small tree was Connie Richardson's key for the Saturday afternoon games. As the tree's shadow moved, so did she and her chair, bit by bit.

"I keep looking as I back up," so as not to block anyone else's view, she said.

On this matter, Donald Richardson didn't agree. His chair didn't move.

"I stay in the sun all day long," he said. "I like to keep warm."

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