Mike Kelbaugh

Softball league a hit with many

Softball league a hit with many

May 18, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

WILLIAMSPORT -- Little did Mike Kelbaugh know that joining the Hagerstown Area Church Softball League almost 20 years ago would change his life.

Kelbaugh signed up to play in the league in 1991, even though he never went to church and would be required to attend services twice a month to be eligible.

"At that time, I never knew Christ or attended any church," the Williamsport resident said. "I started attending church just to play softball. After a year, a seed was planted and I started a relationship with Christ."

Kelbaugh, 46, said he became league president two years after he joined, not only to oversee operations, but to connect people to God.


Under his leadership, league members started doing more than just playing softball.

The league, which has 28 teams with 15 to 30 players on each, started an effort in 2007 to raise money to install lights at one of the three softball fields at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown. Kelbaugh said about $120,000 has been raised to date.

He said one of the fields has lights, but the goal is to install lights at all three fields so the league can host more night games -- not just for itself, but for youth leagues as well.

Kelbaugh said local businesses likely will profit because night tournaments have the potential to attract hundreds of players from the East Coast.

"It will fill up hotels," he said. "It will bring in people who will spend money."

Kelbaugh said the church league also hosts an annual sports dinner that is open to the public to promote fellowship and God's word. One of the speakers was former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Scott McGregor.

"Scott brings current Oriole Christians who speak at the dinner," Kelbaugh said.

He said Tommy John and late Oriole Pat Kelly, who also was a minister, have spoken at the event.

"At this dinner, there have been testimonies given," Kelbaugh said. "We have seen up to 80 lives committed to Christ through this event."

Q&A with Mike Kelbaugh

Resides in: Williamsport

Occupation: Owner, Kam-elot Florist in Hagerstown

Q: What is your proudest moment?

A: Helping to organize the softball league's annual sports dinner.

Q: Whom do you admire most, and why?

A: "The friends I made with people around the softball league. The Lord holds top honors in my life, but there are some people I feel I should mention ... my wife, Sabrina, and my mother- and father-in-law, Jim and Celia Knodle, for their hours of hard work in the concession stand." Kelbaugh said he also admires Charlie Mongan for maintaining the fields.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have received, and who gave it to you?

A: Pastor Randy Buchman of Tri-State Fellowship said "When you're in ministry and you're connected and giving your all to God, he will take care of everything."

Q: What is the next goal you would like to achieve?

A: The softball league is trying to start a scholarship or two and name them after two members of the church league who have passed away the last couple of years.

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