In its fashion, the retirement is the equivalent of a slugger ending his career with a home run, a quarterback with a touchdown pass or, as Sully Krouse would prefer it, a wrestler walking off the mat one last time after a pin.

"But I must be crazy," he was saying the other day, "to politic to get all this work."

Krouse has helped take two immense institutions himself and amateur wrestling - farther than most anyone imagined several decades ago. The former carny 'rassler and bouncer leaves the University of Maryland - after 32 years - this week after once again showing the NCAA wrestling tournament how to make a buck.

Thousands and thousands of youngsters might well be wrestling locally even if Krouse had not pushed so hard over the years, but no Maryland school outside Baltimore considered it worthy of varsity status until he became Terrapin coach in 1946. And one needs a personal Krouse escort to the ticket window to assure a choice seat for his final show in Cole Field House this week.

"The thing I'm proudest of, though," he said, "is the ACC athletic directors changing the dates of our tournament this year, from Friday and Saturday to Saturday and Sunday at Raleigh, so they could drive from the basketball tournament and see our finals.

"Once upon a time these guys couldn't pronounce wrestling - and now they're changing the tournament so they can see it. I felt I had arrived."

Krouse keeps learning fascinating things as the years come and go. At age 20, he learned he was born a day later than he'd thought. Just the other day he learned he was a year older than he'd thought.

Careful research of District records showed no William E. Krouse born July 23, 1917, at 337 O St. NW, but the retirement paperwork could be speeded if he was the William E. Krouse born at that address exactly one year earlier.

"Send it right along," he said.

Krouse did not leave the womb weighing 118 pounds, as some suggest, but he was well over 300 by the time he took to challenging those carnival wrestlers as a depression-years teen-ager.

It always was against some over-the-hill pro, the rules being the challenger got $5 if he stayed in the ring five minutes and $20 if he somehow managed a pin. Krouse won the first time he tried, but the promoter refused to pay.

A night or so later Krouse returned for another challenge - and brought along the Western High football team. The promoter paid. Five dollars was a princely sum at that time, and often Krouse's life consisted of digging ditches by day and chasing carnival 'rasslers at night.

His view of life through the right eye became hazy decades ago, he said, "from leading with my right too often in Georgetown." One time he and some pals beat up the police who were called to escort them from the S.S. Potomac. Wisely, Krouse shortly was hired as the ship's bouncer.

"That's how I learned a lot of my wrestling holds," he said. "Arm twists, things like that. You wanted to take a guy off quietly, not punch him silly in front of everyone."

Krouse's affection for schoolwork was directly related to his time digging ditches. So he became a 325-pound tackle and wrestler at Augusta Military Academy - and would have done the same for VMI had his eyesight and a Maryland recruiter not conspired to make him a Terrapin.

"Those days at Maryland you signed up for ROTC," he said, "because that meant you got a pair of pants and shoes. I'm not complaining. That's how it was."

And the way it was when the Maryland coach, Frank Dobson, suggested he could play better with less weight was Krouse losing 100 pounds in one month and three weeks.

"Lettuce, tomatoes and iced tea, that's everything that passed through my mouth," he said. "It's wonder something didn't happen."

In the ACC, nothing happened in wrestling until Krouse embarrassed the other schools into funding decent programs. Maryland won 20 straight ACC championships and more than 80 straight dual meets until the rest of the league got serious.

In the beginning, Maryland won partly because it spent more money than any other ACC school but mostly because Krouse worked harder than every other coach and knew more angles. Once many of the part-time janitors at nearby high schools were Maryland wrestlers.

As a man and as a coach, Krouse especially appreciates what he has now because of what he did not have years ago. The size of Cole Field House and Its proximity to the wrestling havens of Central Pennsylvania have made it a three-time winner as host for the NCAA wrestling championships.

What Krouse never did get was a victory over his long-time friend, Penn State Coach Charlie Speidel. One of those close losses, in the early '60s, is recalled fondly by friends as the best example of the Krouse flair for excess.

Krouse's strategy had gone perfectly - until the Terrapin 167-pounder did exactly what he was not supposed to do and was pinned. Finally, with Maryland down three points, Krouse sent a 177-pounder to do battle with State's 280-pound heavyweight.

The State monster slammed the tiny Terp to the mat, and Krouse seized his only hope of victory - a forfeit because the slam had not been according to the rules. As his man hit the mat, Krouse stepped between the referee and the wrestlers - and kept that position as the State man worked for a pin.

Krouse had delighted many a State audience with his off-the-mat antics, but this was incredulous. As the wrestlers twisted, so did the furious Krouse, keeping himself in position so the referee could not see a pin.

Finally, Krouse let up - and for the best of reasons.

"Coach," his wrestler said, "would you please get off my hand?"