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•Harry “Jake” Jacobs, a Falls Church resident and fixture on the local baseball scene for seven decades, died on Aug. 15 of complications from diabetes. He was 84. Jacobs coached and played in area sandlot, high school, and American Legion and Clark Griffith leagues. For most of the last decade, Jacobs tutored the Arlington Senators, a powerhouse club in the Clark Griffith League that had won four of the last five amateur wood-bat national championships. His wake and funeral drew a couple of hundred mostly male mourners, most of whom had played with, for, or against a guy eulogists described as a lovable scrapper and peerless teacher. At the end of the ceremony at St. Philips Church in Falls Church, a group that included players from all eras of Jacobs’ career carried his coffin down the aisle as the organist played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” “You hate to think about your last moments on this earth,” says Chris Burr, who played American Legion ball for Jacobs as a teenager and now manages the Senators. “But that’s how I’d want to go out: His ballplayers were carrying him, and they were playing his song.”
•The Los Angeles Stray Cats defended their reputation and their national title last weekend by winning their 10th straight Gay Softball World Series championship, which was held in the D.C. area for the first time in the event’s 27-year history. The serial champs didn’t get out of town without a fight, however. The local entry, the D.C. Metz, advanced to the championship round of the double-elimination tournament by taking the loser’s bracket, then beat the Stray Cats 10-9 to force a playback game. And in the last inning of the second, winner-takes-all matchup, played in front of a wildly anti-L.A. crowd at Watkins Park in Prince George’s County, the Metz had runners representing the tying and winning runs on base before a ground out sealed the Stray Cats’ 6-5 win. “Our goal since we started playing this year was to make it to the championship game of the World Series against the Stray Cats,” says Aubrey Collier, the Metz pitcher.
•The juggernaut that is the Capitol City Little League also kept up its winning ways in 2003. In July, at Fort Lincoln Park, the Cap City 11-to-12-year-old all-stars won the District 3 tournament, which covers all of D.C., for the 15th time in 16 years. In this year’s tournament, Cap City outscored the opposition 73-1, and its pitchers threw three no-hitters in the three games played. The so-called Slaughter Rule, which calls for umpires to end a game when a team is up by more than 10 runs after four innings, was invoked in each of the three contests. The District 3 title meant Cap City advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Region tournament in Bristol, Conn. Alas, the locals proved mortal outside our city’s borders. The D.C. team was eliminated by Naamans, a Delaware representative, with a 12-1 loss in which Cap City batters didn’t get a hit and the umpires invoked the Slaughter Rule.
•The more things change, the more Dan Snyder stays the same. The Redskins owner recently told the Washington Post that the high-turnover days are behind him and his franchise”We can be pretty damn stable,” Snyder said. But he’s shown time and time again that he can be pretty damn unstable, too. Snyder has given up on Julia Payne as vice president of communications after only a few months on the job. Payne’s hiring in May was most surprising because of her résumé: She had no experience in sports PR, but was instead a career flack for major Democratic politicos, including Al Gore and Bill Clinton. Snyder, meanwhile, is a very public Republican and a donor to many GOP causeshe gave $100,000 to the Bush inaugural fund after the 2000 elections, for example. Payne seemed confident that working for Gore and Clinton, maybe the only guys around these parts who got worse press than Snyder in recent years, would help her in the new position. But when asked what she could do to get the press to go soft on the Skins owner, Payne told me, “I don’t know of any super-magical skills.” Perhaps that was her undoing. On Aug. 7, the Redskins announced that Payne’s “three-month contract” with the team would not be renewed. Karl Swanson, a self-described henchman for Snyder who before being replaced by Payne had done nothing to mitigate the owner’s awful relationship with every media outlet save the Post and WRC-4, returned to take his old job.
•The bowling alley that won’t die has caught another reprieve. The Falls Church Bowling Center, the lone duckpin house left in Northern Virginia and a gloriously unkempt relic of a dying pastime, yet again seemed destined for the wrecker’s ball this spring. The Falls Church city council and developers had held public meetings touting proposals to build 241 luxury condos and upscale retail shops on the land where the alley has long sat, and no opposition to those plans stepped forward. But the development project, the first step of which would have been the razing of the long-decaying 32-lane center, imploded last week. “We’ve backed out,” says Bob Young of the Young Group, the developer handling the retail portion of the project. Young says his group found it couldn’t work with the city council, and so he’s scrapped what was to be the $7.25 million purchase of the 4.7-acre tract from Milton Diener, the 90-something former D.C. carpet baron who has owned the bowling alley for decades. Before the reprieve, the alley had cut its hours of operation down to 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. A group of senior citizens who for years had met every Friday at the duckpin house had already moved their informal league up the street to the relatively kempt and relatively hip tenpin alley run by Bowl America. Elling Reich, a 92-year-old Falls Church resident who had been exclusively a duckpin bowler all his life, says he learned a lot in the “Have-a-Bowl” tenpin classes he recently took to prepare himself for the closing of his beloved duckpin house. “I learned the ball is heavier, but it goes in the gutter just as well,” says Reich.
•Coach Peppy has called it quits. Last season, after 16 years as an assistant coach for local Boys Club and high-school football teams in the Maryland suburbs, Charles “Peppy” Pointer was given his first head coaching job, his first coaching gig in the city. Pointer took over what had been a perennially losing squad at MacFarland Middle School in Petworth. Though essentially working as a volunteerthe coaching budget for the entire school was $1,100 for the seasonPointer instituted a heavily disciplined (“no cussing!”), seven-days-a-week coaching regimen and a mentoring program in which he made himself available to his players whenever they needed him. MacFarland became a powerhouse overnight. As the Crusaders went undefeated and unscored-upon for the entire regular season and through the first two rounds of the city playoffs, the team became a source of pride for the previously apathetic student body and administration, which had been suffering image problems of their own in recent years. And in a very short time, Coach Peppy became a father figure to a lot of young boys who’d never had one. “There are times when I wish I could just take all the kids home with me, to protect them,” he told me. “But I know that’s not possible.” Alas, in the city championship against two-time defending titlist Hart Middle School, MacFarland’s defense gave up two touchdowns on gadget plays, and the clock ran out on Peppy’s storybook season with his team mere inches from the goal line in a 12-7 loss. In the off-season, Pointer said that the job was far more emotionally taxing than he’d imagined it would be. So, for his own psychological well-being, he needed to get out of coaching. As his first season out of football in nearly two decades approaches, however, he’s wavering a bit. “I’m changing my status from ‘retired’ to ‘taking a break,’” he said last week with a laugh.
•Washingtonpost.com decided this week to stop soliciting high-school cheerleader videos. No cheer-squad mpegs were ever put up for viewing, and site spokesperson Don Marshall says he’s not sure if any school ever responded. Dave McKenna