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'Dukes' Anderson was team player, at home and on field

August 17, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Hubert "Dukes" Anderson, who died Aug. 9 at the age of 87. His obituary was published in the Aug. 11 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Many who knew Hubert "Dukes" Anderson as a standout baseball and soccer player for 30 years in Washington County might not have known that he had another nickname.

"I named him 'Bucko' - the name Fonzie used to call people on 'Happy Days,' and it stuck," grandson Andrew Madsen said. "He was always in my life."

Andy, 28, has been wheelchair-bound since he was born with spina bifida.

"Dad retired when Andy was 3," said Dukes' daughter, Becky Madsen. "Nearly every day, they were together."

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Dukes was born in 1920, and from an early age, he was heavily into sports - baseball and soccer were his favorites.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Dukes had to quit school in the eighth grade to help out the family, which included 10 children.

For the last four years of his life, Dukes lived with Becky, her husband, Jim, and their son, Andy, in Williamsport.

"Dad watched ballgames with Andy right up to the end," Becky said. Aware of the Federal Little League 11-12 All-Stars' recent triumphs, Dukes was excited for them.

In addition, there also were fishing trips, as well as expeditions to shopping malls and McDonald's, often with Andy and his sister, Katie Madsen Rubeck.

Still, the common denominator for most of Dukes' life was baseball.

Long before Dukes met his future wife, Lorraine, at a carnival along Conococheague Creek and before they started a family, there was baseball.

He played for a number of teams, including the Maugansville Colts, Williamsport Wildcats and Veterans, Keedysville Mud Hens, Sharpsburg Blue Birds and a number of church and company teams.

The nickname "Dukes" was hung on him during those days. In 1945, he played professionally with the Hagerstown Owls, where he earned $175 per month, plus $3 per day for food.

"He couldn't support his family on that, so 1945 was the only year he played with the Owls," Becky said.

During his years working on the silk looms in Williamsport and as a textile mechanic at Maryland Ribbon, Dukes still found the time and energy to play for one baseball team in the late afternoon and another in the evening.

"He was still playing ball when he was in his 50s, mostly as a pitcher," Becky said. "When he stepped on the field, he was there to win."

During 56 years of marriage, Becky's parents hardly ever went anywhere separately. They shopped, cleaned, gardened and traveled together, often on a moment's notice, she said.

During their annual two-week vacations, the couple managed to visit 47 of the 50 states.

Becky said her father took the death of his only son, David, very hard.

"My brother died in a swimming accident in the Potomac River when he was just 16," she said.

Losing David sent Dukes into a downward spiral that Becky said lasted a long time.

"Dad didn't fish much for about a year," she said.

Andy said he and his grandfather were buddies, much as Dukes had been with his own son.

For two seasons, Dukes watched as Andy played ball for MiHi, an organization that provides opportunities for people with physical limitations. When Katie played softball, Dukes was there to cheer her on, too.

"We watched out for each other. And then, I watched out for him," Andy said of his grandfather's declining health in the months before he died Aug. 9 at the age of 87.

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