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Athletic Club patriarch has been heart of baseball organization for 40 years

Sep 16, 2019 2:43 PM
Chris Kao

UMAC President Gene Lowery has been dedicating himself to our organization since 1975. Just a few of his countless contributions are highlighted in the Gazette article below:

Come visit Gene at his famous Snack Shack this Spring!

Tuesday May 27, 2014

Athletic Club patriarch has been heart of baseball organization for 40 years

By Sarah Scully

Gene Lowery has run the Upper Montgomery Athletic Club baseball league in Boyds for nearly 40 years. He’s the league’s president, but he’s best known around the fields for the cheeseburgers and egg sandwiches he sells from the snack shack at least six days a week.

On top of the contracting company he runs with his son Brad Lowery — Lowery Construction — he puts in about 60 hours a week to keep the league running and feed hungry players, parents and siblings.

“He’s the guy who does everything out here, the father of the league so to speak,” Coach Ike Brenner said.

Lowery, 73, joined the league in 1975, coaching then 9-year-old Brad’s team. Within a few years, he became president of the league. At the time, it used one field behind the old Edward U. Taylor School on White Ground Road.

Ten years ago, the school closed. Lowery said he negotiated a deal with the county school system to let the league build four more fields and maintain them without paying to use the fields.

Since then, he and Brad have built a pavilion and dug-out covers there. They built the snack shack about 20 years ago.

Boys run up to the red shack, $3 in hand, to grab a Diet Coke for Mom and a packet of Big League Chew. Their sisters pick out Skittles and take them to the playground to gossip. Pings of bats hitting balls ring across the fields around the shack.

Lowery waits behind the counter in his red league shirt, white-grey hair combed back, beard trimmed, while one player after another is stumped by which flavor of Gatorade to choose.

The menu, handwritten in marker on the side of a white refrigerator, offers pickles for 50 cents, hot dogs for $2 and Super Bubble for 5 cents a piece.

Lowery estimates he makes about 1,000 burgers during the 40 or so games each week. Trophies from Cal Ripken tournaments stand prominently beside the counter.

“He’s a giver, that’s for sure,” said Chris McKee, who has coached his four sons’ teams the past seven years. “He’s just tireless around here.”

Typically, Lowery rises at 3 or 4 a.m., depending on what time he went to sleep. He sleeps for exactly five hours and wakes up without an alarm clock every day to have breakfast and maybe scrub pans from the snack shack that he didn’t get to the night before. He gets to work around 7 a.m.

By 3 p.m., he’s on his way to the fields, stopping at Costco a few days a week to restock burgers, Gatorade and candy. Then, there are fields to be mowed, dirt diamonds to be smoothed, and last-minute fill-in umpires to be called.

On Friday and Saturday nights, the teams play under lights, a big hit, Lowery said. Around 9 p.m., he’s wrapping up to head home.

Lowery insists he keeps doing the job because there’s no one else to take over. Indeed, his shoes would be big ones to fill. But the community he has created here knows the effort he puts in so kids can play baseball. It’s a sport he has loved since he listened to Pittsburgh Pirate games over the radio in the 1940s and 1950s, while growing up in Western Maryland.

“This is kind of a yesteryear ballpark. People come from all over. They go, ‘Ah, you all are so lucky,’” McKee said. “He makes this a wholesome place, he really does.”

Lowery loves seeing the kids play; the league is a ministry to him, he said.

“I think I’m doing God’s work. I hope God likes baseball,” he said.

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