How very grand it was of 40 Washington area banks to get behind the effort to return baseball to the nation's capital. How very grand to allow fans to open $8 million worth of "baseball accounts," whose contents are pledged toward the purchase of season's tickets once a team is here. How very grand of the banks to pay interest on these accounts.
And how very nasty of one bank to put an unexpected squeeze play on W.B. Kirschner of Oxon Hill.
Brother Kirschner opened a baseball account on May 6 at Maryland National Bank. He deposited $70 -- "earnest money" for one season's ticket.
On Sept. 10, his statement arrived in the mail. It showed $1.01 in accumulated interest -- and a $5 service charge because his account had been inactive since it was opened.
To his surprise, good-faith baseball fan Kirschner had less money in his baseball account than he had started with. As he put it, if MNB continued to sock him for a service charge, his account "would be wiped out by the time we get a team."
Well, I put in an emergency call to the bullpen on behalf of this obviously mistreated fan. And I'm happy to report that MNB has cleaned up the mess. It will restore Kirschner's $5 service charge, and it won't deduct any such money in the future, from his account or any other baseball account. "It was a mistake," said MNB public relations person Jill Springer.
However, it's a mistake that has been made with baseball accounts at other banks. A Riggs National Bank spokesperson said the same thing had happened in "a couple of instances" as a result of "improper coding." Ezekiel Mobley Jr., an aide to City Council member Frank Smith, who helped to establish the baseball accounts idea, said there have been "isolated incidents" at other banks. However, "I can think of no case in which a letter or a phone call from us didn't work it out," Mobley said.
Any baseball fan knows enough to expect errors along with his hits and runs. But this is one error that no baseball account holder should have to suffer. Please check your statements, account holders. If you don't fix your "official scorecard," you'll have only yourselves to blame.
Tucker County, W.Va., was where the worst of last fall's flooding hit. Happily, life is almost back to normal there now. Everyone has shelter, and nearly everyone has food and running water. But because of the flood, Tucker County High School -- the only high school in that ravaged central West Virginia county -- may not have a yearbook this spring.
"All of our advertising and most of our money, really, comes from local businesses," said Crissy Goldman, the editor. "Over 90 percent of the businesses in our county were washed out. When we realized what that would mean to our yearbook, it was pretty devastating."
Here's exactly how devastating: The number of pages has been drastically cut. The number and size of the photos has been slashed. The black velvet cover has had to be scrapped. If the yearbook went to the printer's tomorrow, it would be "skimpy, very skimpy," said Pat Goldman, the yearbook adviser and the editor's mother -- and this for a year that no Tucker Countian will ever forget.
Now, putting out a yearbook is not nearly as important as putting towns like Parsons and Hambleton and St. George and Hendricks back together. But a yearbook is a reference point for a lifetime. It will help the 550 TCHS students remember all the hardships and all the courage five, 10, 25 years from now.
The yearbook staff needs $8,000 in advertising to publish the kind of yearbook it always planned to publish -- and it needs the money by Feb. 1. A full page ad costs $200, a half page $150 and a quarter page $100.
Surely the Washington area community can spring for that kind of money to help TCHS publish a little piece of history. I hope so. I know so.
Ad orders and checks should be mailed to Tucker County High School, Hambleton, W.Va., 26269, in care of Howard Moore, the principal. He'll also keep a list of those who contribute, and next spring, I'll publish it.
There has been an amazing success story on the streets of Washington during the past few months. For some reason, more residents than ever before have raked and bagged the leaves that fell on their property.
In the past, D.C. homeowners would rake the leaves into huge piles in the gutter -- or not rake them at all. But this fall, according to Anne Hoey, administrator of public space maintenance for the D.C. Department of Public Works, bagging has been so widespread that extra crews have had to be added to pick up the results.
"It's been a cumulative thing," she said. "We preached and preached over the last 10 years, and in the last two years it's finally happening.
"I don't think it was any bolt out of the sky that caused it. I think the logic of it is probably making it work. If your pile looks crummy -- especially when we have a lot of rain -- and your neighbor's looks good, then it's contagious."
It's amazing if mere peer pressure got all those D.C. homeowners away from televised football and out into their front yards with rakes and bags. But, hey, whatever works. Congratulations to the rakers and baggers -- and to DCPW for not giving up on the necessary nagging.
We enter the final week of our annual fund-raising campaign, which makes it time for one last firm elbow in the ribs.
Have you contributed yet? The kids in our community count on all of us to do so. If you have been intending to contribute, please do so today.
Here are the most recent group donors:
The Cinnamon Woods AA Group ($200).
Employes of Masters Tuxedo and Bridal Shops in the D.C. area ($108.40).
Members of the U.S. Naval Gun Factory Auxiliary No. 1085, Department of the District of Columbia, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. ($25).
Foster Associates Inc. ($381).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Health and Environmental Assessment Coffee Klatch ($100).
The National Guard Bureau's Office of Technician Personnel, Baileys Crossroads ($240).
The Class of 1939, U.S. Naval Academy ($25, with thanks to Paul R. Schratz).
The Progress Club Foundation Inc. ($2,500).
Employes of Remco Business Systems Inc. ($215, marking the 24th year this bunch has collected and donated).
Customers and employes of Summer's Restaurant, Tysons Corner ($160).
The adult reading class at Bryant Adult Center, Fairfax County Public Schools ($122).
Employes in the reprographics department, Vitro Corp., Silver Spring ($235).
The Service Order Systems Staff at the C&P Telephone Co. of Maryland ($75).
Employes of the Mail Equipment Shops of the U.S. Postal Service ($230).
The Cappet Corp. of Alexandria and its employes ($436).
The Vienna Jaycees ($100).
The Engineering Support Center, U.S. Postal Service ($406).
And employes and management at Jensen Manufacturing Co. Inc. ($426).
Quite a showing! Much obliged to one and all. TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:
Make a check or money order payable to Children's Hospital and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071. The campaign ends on Jan. 24.