The Edmond Sun

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February 12, 2007

'It was just a blast playing for him'

Former players remember coach's drive

CUMBERLAND, Md. — In any given moment during any given baseball game he was coaching, the man could display what Time Magazine once described as “the clenched-fist face of Hank Bauer,” the ex-Marine who returned from World War II to become a World Series star with the New York Yankees and later manage the Baltimore Orioles to the 1966 world championship.

In another moment you could look down to the third-base coaching box and see the intensity and piercing eyes of the great actor John Cassavetes. Yet in the next moment you were likely to see a smile that would fill a determined ballplayer’s heart with joy — the joy of having made his coach proud of him.

Arms could be flailing, words could be flying — no, words were always flying — a hat could be tossed into the air, dirt could be kicked, fanny could be threatened to be kicked if the proper baseball fundamentals were not performed, and fanny was patted when they were performed the way they were taught. And through it all, Jim “Bromo” Ellsworth was having the time of his life, making sure his ballplayers were having the time of theirs by playing baseball, the greatest game of them all.

He was a great many things to a community he knew was great. Like Bauer, who also died on Thursday, Bromo was an ex-Marine who continued to serve his community and his country in a great many ways, always striving to leave the world a better place than what he found it. And he succeeded in doing that, particularly on the baseball field where he coached and managed the Dapper Dan Little League Cardinals dynasty for 32 years.

“Step and swing, step and swing,” said former University of Maryland quarterback Mark Manges, one of Bromo’s former Cardinals. “He would pitch batting practice, and Bromo wasn’t the greatest pitcher in the world, so you had to have your batting helmet on.

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