Can Janks Morton, "Boom Boom" Hutcherson, Johnny Dollar and Byron Zeigier pool their talents with 13 other men to come up with a formula that will tarnish the Copper Hearth? That question will be resolved in Bowie, Md., Sunday afternoon when the Baltimore Monuments take on the Milwaukee Copper Hearth on the opening day of the American Professional Slo-Pitch Softball League's initial season.
The 12-team, three-division league will, if nothing else, take the prize among professional leagues for team names: conglomerates identified as the Pittsburgh Hardhats, Cincinnati Suds, Cleveland Jaybirds, Detroit Caesars, Kentucky Bourbons and Minnestoa Goofys will, among others, all be doing business.
Each team will play doubleheaders on Saturdays and Sundays during the 14-week, 56-game season, with the three division winners plus a wild-card team reaching the playoffs. The playoff pool is $100,000, financed by the $25,000 each franchise owner paid to join the league. Expansion is already join the league. Expansion is already an issue, with league officials planning to incorporate at least four more cities next season.
The 17-man roster of the Monuments is composed mostly ofrplayers from Washington-Baltimore area amateur leagues. Nine players on the squad played for Addie's, a nine-time Washington metro area champion. Several have been on major league farm teams. The Monument players all have regular jobs during the week, moonlighting on weekends for equal pay for each roster member.
Ray Duncan, a 20-year veteran on the Washington softball scene, is the manager. Duncan has impressive credentials, having managed Addie's to two national titles, including a 105-22 record last season and the American Softball Association's World Series title.
Duncan will be coaching such standouts as Dollar, an outfielder who has twice made the ASA's All-World team and who hit 750 during the Monuments' 12-game exhibition season; Hutcherson who earned his nickname with feats similar to his recent 400-foot-plus home run; Morton, an advisor to boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and four-time veteran of Addie's World Series squads; and Zeigler, a Mark Fidrych-type pitcher who talks to both ball and batter. Zeigler need not fear chastisement for his behavior from opposing teams, since 6-foot-4, 235 pound Bill Brantley and 6-2, 260 pounder John Copenhaver will be around to keep order.
To cut down on the offense displays inherent in slow pitch (the Monuments hit over 600 during the exhibition season), the league has made some changes in the layout of the field. Each stadium must have a 10 foot high fence at least 300 feet down the foul lines; the base patsh ave been moved back four feet.
The Monuments play in Rips Memorial Stadium (Rte. 301, Bowie). Admission for the 2:30 p.m. opener is $3 for adults, $1.50 youths 12:16 years, withfree admission for those under 12.