Dick Logue doesn't think the citizens of Bowie elected him mayor because he's coached their baseball teams for 13 years.
But it couldn't have hurt.
In Bowie, a generally well-to-do suburban sprawl of 33,000 people, to be civic-minded is, almost by definition, to be involved in the community's baseball programs. There resides a spirit, an attitude about baseball so pervasive it would be unthinkable for the mayor not to coach a team. Of course he does. It might as well be included in the oath of office.
"I used to catch a lot of hell coming into council meetings in dungarees and ratty old T-shirt and baseball hat," said Logue, a councilman for nine years before his recent election to higher office. "I got these sneers--well, not exactly sneers, more like funny looks--from people when I showed up. I used to tell them, 'At least I've got my priorities straight.'
"You know, now they do too."
In the last 10 years, the Bowie community's identity has evolved through baseball. Bowie City Council recently presented the high school team a proclamation for winning its second state championship in a row.
Not everyone in Bowie is involved in baseball. Just almost everyone. Close to 800 youths play in the local boys and girls club's intramural program and for the 10 entries in the Prince George's County league. Another couple dozen play for the Bowie Babe Ruth team and the Cheverly American Legion squad.
And they all win, with a regularity that borders on tedium and a style that verges on the remarkable.
For 10 years, a Bowie boys club team has won something significant every year. The high school team, which finished the season with its 44-game winning streak intact, has averaged 16 victories a year since 1966.
The Cheverly Legion team, made up mostly of Bowie High School players, has averaged more than 20 victories a year since the mid-1950s. The Legion club has won 14 league titles and advanced to the national World Series twice.
That automaker ought to rewrite its jingle. Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Bo-oo-wie.
"For some reason, baseball in Bowie has been a tremendously positive force the last 10 years," said Dave Committe, commissioner of Bowie's county program the last four years. "We're very happy with what the teams have done for the community. Heck, we ought to be. We elected a coach mayor."
"Baseball, along with soccer, which is starting to come along, controls the atmosphere here in Bowie," said William (Bumps) Vaughan, who has coached at Bowie High School for 17 years. "We're just fortunate out here to have a few more people who know what they're doing and can teach the kids what's important."
There's a set pattern to the Bowie assembly line, complete with a consistency not found in too many other local programs. Coaches like Logue and Bob Buchko and the retired Warren Thompson teach the same group of youngsters for a couple years and then send them on to Vaughan, who refines them and wins state championships.
The consistency part comes when the coaches' sons complete the circuit but the coaches hang on, continuing to preach the Bowie gospel.
According to Logue, it reads:
"Teach them what baseball is for and what the difference between losing looking good and losing looking bad is. And more than anything else, teach them the fundamentals without a hell of a lot of theory but with a hell of a lot of fun."
Sermonizing or whatever, it produces 10-year-olds with more poise and character than a lot of high school players. And they aren't bad baseball players, either.
They are committed, these Bowie people. But they know it also helps to have talent. There has been no shortage of that the last few years.
Families have been the mainstay of the Bowie program. Sean Sullivan, a starting outfielder for Virginia Tech this year, and brother Chris, who caught for Vaughan's Bowie team, both graduated through the boys club ranks.
The family that has contributed perhaps the most to Bowie's success the past 15 years is the Terrells. Terry, Brett and David Terrell starred for Bowie teams in the early '70s, and brothers Jim and K.C. played for Vaughan this year.
"A kid who wants to play baseball in Bowie is going to play," said Art Terrell, the father, who also has five daughters who participated in the community's program.
"They play from the time they're 7, and it becomes a way of life. That's why they handle these undefeated seasons and state championships so well."