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LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES NOTEBOOK : He's Helping Kids Games Keep Up With the Times

August 23, 1995|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — It takes more than 200 volunteers to help run the Little League World Series.

Dennis Graham, a retired Air Force sergeant who is back for his fourth series in five years, helped bring the tournament into the computer age.

Before Graham helped introduce computerized compiling of stats for the series, all the information was compiled the old-fashioned way--with pads and pencils.

"I want to give a quality job to the kids," said Graham, who will see every pitch of the series. "That's why I do this."

Graham got involved in youth baseball while stationed oversees. He spent the last 12 years of his Air Force career in Germany, umpired games all over Europe and was rewarded for his work in Little League by being selected to work the 1992 series.

"Dennis is a terrific guy and he has had a lot to do with our programs in Europe," Little League President Steve Keener said. "He's been very instrumental for us."

In 1992, Graham umpired four games in the series, including two Long Beach games. Graham attended the same high school, Long Beach Wilson, as had Long Beach Coach Jeff Burroughs. Most of the players' parents also attended Wilson, although they had graduated several years before Graham.

Little League officials learned about the Wilson High connection about an hour before the fifth game, which Graham also was supposed to umpire. A disappointed Graham was yanked off the final to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

"It happens," Graham said. "It was disappointing, but it happens."

Graham continues to umpire in Washington, and plans to return to the World Series many more times.

Of course I'll be back," he said. "The kids deserve it."

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Graham's partner at the stat table is Bob Mann, of Anchorage, Alaska. An Air Force pilot, he plans to attend Chapman University this winter to complete a master's degree in human resource management.

Mann began working on the degree while stationed in Alaska by taking courses through an extension program offered by Chapman. He had 18 credits completed when the extension program was shut down this summer. He needs 15 more to complete his goal.

"I don't see any way I can complete the degree without attending Chapman," Mann said.

*

Quote of the day: Manager Steve Jorgenson of Little Lakes West, Arden Hills, Minn., was asked after his team's second consecutive loss, 11-4, to Toms River, N.J., why Central representatives rarely advance to the U.S. championship game.

Said Jorgenson: "Well, if they play this game on ice and let us wear skates, then we would have a better chance."

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