Legacy

Oh, like a rock, the sun upon my skinLike a rock, hard against the windLike a rock, I see myself againLike a rockOh, like a rock

— Bob Seger

MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

The proof was in the pudding Sunday morning when 200 to 300 people were on hand for the naming of Steve Bazarnic Field. Friends, neighbors, fans and, most importantly, former players came back to what was, until Sunday, affectionately known, and not so affectionately known depending on what the front of your jersey said, as The Rock.

Yet there was nothing but affection on this first official day of what will be called Steve Bazarnic Field from this point on, because it was a day for all of us to be close to and to be with our friend Steve Bazarnic, the retired Hall of Fame baseball coach of Allegany College of Maryland.

The great Detroit writer Joe Falls once wrote of Brooks Robinson, “How many times you approached him and got only courtesy and decency in return. A true gentleman who never took himself seriously. I always had the idea he didn’t know he was Brooks Robinson.”

John Steadman, the great Baltimore writer, once wrote of Brooks Robinson, “There’s not a man who knows him who wouldn’t swear for his integrity and honesty and give testimony to his consideration of others. He’s an extraordinary human being, which is important, and the world’s greatest third baseman of all time, which is incidental.”

Steve Bazarnic is our Brooks Robinson.

More to the point, Steve Bazarnic is our Steve Bazarnic because he is an extraordinary human being, which is important, and one of the greatest baseball coaches in the world, which is incidental. He is our one and only because I always had the idea he didn’t know he was Steve Bazarnic.

He was presented with the final baseball from the final game of The Rock, as well as home plate from The Rock, and the school announced it would retire the jersey No. 1, one of the many numbers Steve wore in his career because he always deferred to a player who wished to wear any particular number. But No. 1 at Allegany College of Maryland will always signify and honor Steve Bazarnic as to where he stands in our esteem and in so many of our hearts.

Beginning next season, the Trojans will wear No. 1 on their sleeves as well as the signature of the great Steve Bazarnic.

Naturally, Steve was the most uncomfortable person on campus Sunday morning because, in his mind, there was too much attention being focused on him and not the baseball game between the Trojans and Anne Arundel that would follow the official naming ceremony.

As the Allegany team surrounded him and the Anne Arundel players and coaches stood to his left to hear his thoughts, Steve shuffled his feet quite a bit as he humbly accepted this well-deserved honor from the college president, the Board of Trustees and former players Tommie Reams, the ACM athletic director, Jimmy Pyles and J.R. Perdew, the Chicago White Sox pitching instructor who is now the ACM associate athletic director.

“Why are you here?” I was asked prior to the ceremony. “Working?”

“Nah,” I said. “Just love Steve Bazarnic.”

That’s why all of us were there. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Pyles, a member of the ACM Board of Trustees, told the fans and friends of his first day on the ACM campus with Steve as a freshman, and how the man whose guidance and influence he would be following for the next two years to this day directly led to a distinguished career in Maryland state law enforcement.

Perdew said Steve is a second father to him and said that every day he tells his players with the White Sox, and his own son, the same three things Steve Bazarnic told his players every day.

This day and this moment was for Steve Bazarnic and for his family, for as Perdew said, baseball is family — your family that loves you and supports you and shares you with the game, and the family you become part of once and forever within the game of baseball and in this game of life.

This is about legacy. It is about lasting gratitude, and it is about love and respect. It is about “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

Looking around Steve Bazarnic Field on Sunday it was clear that for the most part, the brothers have become fathers. However, even though it is now and forever The Baz, it will always be your father’s Rock, even though The Rock is retired along with the man who made it and created the legacy and this family.

No more dirt infield. It is now a beautifully manicured grass infield and the place is a picture. It is fit for a king.

And why not? It’s named for one.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT