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Lawmakers Go to Bat for All-Stars

TIMES STAFF WRITER

California’s Youth Baseball All-Stars will make it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., after all, thanks to members of the state Legislature.

A week ago, the situation looked bleak. The company holding fund-raising proceeds from 33 competing state teams had folded without paying $165,000 in tournament fees.

To the California team’s rescue came Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) and 33 other legislators.

Earlier this month, Baugh was waiting to board a flight at John Wayne Airport when he bumped into Harold Curtin, an America West supervisor from Huntington Beach whose son, Jonathan, is a team pitcher. Curtin told Baugh about needing to raise $5,000 in replacement fees for the California team.

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In Sacramento, Baugh made the rounds of his colleagues’ offices asking for help. Outside one office, he met Dan Dunmoyer, president of the Personal Insurance Federation, a lobbying group for insurance companies.

By the end of the day, Dunmoyer had obtained a $2,500 pledge from State Farm, which challenged the legislators to match it. They did, and more--in 45 minutes.

“The whole thing was kind of amazing,” said coach Joe Jennings of Pismo Beach, a 1981 graduate of Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach. “I always kept thinking that something would work out. I can’t thank everyone enough.”

The team, which includes seven Orange County players, will fly to New York on Thursday. The tournament begins Saturday.

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“These kids were hung out to dry,” Curtin said. “When Scott called back to tell me we had the money, I just about fell out of my chair.”

Baugh said Monday that he was moved by the plight of the team of 13 12-year-old boys from Orange County, Oakland, San Leandro, Stockton and Arroyo Grande.

“I was on an all-star team that drove 20 miles to our tournament, and that was the thrill of my life,” Baugh said.

Dunmoyer said he made a single phone call to a State Farm executive in Sacramento--the donation was instantaneous.

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“How could we leave these kids in the lurch?” Dunmoyer said. “They need to see more than the ugly side of life.”

The fund-raising firm, Timecards Inc. of Las Vegas, was used by every team because it was co-sponsoring the tournament, Jennings said. The teams sold 30-minute phone cards for $20 each, with about half the proceeds going toward their tournament fees and the other half going to Timecards, he said.

Several calls from The Times to Timecards’ office in Las Vegas went unanswered.

The phone number for the company’s branch office in Arroyo Grande was answered by Future Stars of America, a youth sports organization and tournament co-sponsor that stepped in to cover the phone cards’ bills, Jennings said.

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He said several state teams, including California’s, are expected to file complaints against the company.

“Our priority was getting the kids to the tournament,” Jennings said. “We knew that trying to get our money back would be a long legal battle.”

The Orange County team members are Jonathan Curtin, Tim Matz and Steve Schweitzer of Trabuco Canyon, Chris Jones and Craig Munson of Dove Canyon, Clark Hardman of Rancho Santa Margarita and Sam Real of Orange.

All of Orange County’s Assembly and Senate members contributed $100 each to the team, as did Supervisors Jim Silva, Todd Spitzer and William G. Steiner. Reps. Chris Cox (R-Newport Beach) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) also kicked in.

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