Bethesda’s summer collegiate baseball team is returning to its roots. Bruce Adams, a co-founder more than 20 years ago of the Bethesda Big Train, has taken over the team again, after eight years away.
Adams and John Ourisman founded Bethesda Community Base Ball Club in 1998 to improve local youth baseball and softball fields. The organization built Shirley Povich Field at Cabin John Regional Park and it entered the Bethesda Big Train team for college players in the Clark C. Griffith Collegiate Baseball League.
Adams said in an interview this week that after more than a decade of helping to oversee the team, he started to feel overwhelmed while he also worked full time for then-County Executive Ike Leggett.
In 2012, Bethesda Chevy Chase Baseball, a youth baseball organization, took over control of the team.
Adams, now retired, said BCC Baseball President Doug Cashmere recently asked if he was interested in reclaiming the Big Train.
Adams said he first thought it wasn’t for him in retirement, but he turned to two main funders of the team for their opinions. One told him he would be crazy to get involved again. The other told him it was a fabulous idea and would reinvigorate him.
Both were right, Adams said. It takes nerve to start — or restart — an adventure at age 72, but he’s doing it, he said.
A transfer agreement signed this week reverses the 2012 transaction that moved the club to Bethesda Chevy Chase Baseball. Adams joked that it’s “back to the future” and he has come up with ideas for how to proceed.
There is no baseball on the field this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, but there will be events and program to appeal to fans.
First up is “NOpening Night” on Friday. Fans are encouraged to “stay safe at home” and tune in online at 7 p.m. for the premiere of bigtrain.tv.
Other programs and features are lined up:
- On Monday evenings, Manager Sal Colangelo will host a “Hot Stove League” show, a reference to the term for baseball talk in the offseason
- On Tuesday evenings, Adams will do an interview show. His first guest will be Mike Veeck, a minor league baseball owner and executive known for creative ballpark promotions.
- On Thursday evenings, baseball historian Bill Hickman will look back at 10 of the top 25 games in Big Train history.
Adams said baseball at minor league and local levels often is packed with fun, since the game on the field is only part of the attraction.
Still, the talent also can be quite good. The Big Train has had 16 players make it to the Major Leagues, according to the team’s website.
While in the Clark Griffith and, more recently, Cal Ripken leagues, the Big Train has won about two-thirds of its games, nine league championships and one national title.
Adams called the combination of atmosphere and skill “small-town values and big league talent.”
“The Big Train is a unique gem,” Cashmere agreed.