Hot stove league reaches courtroom

There was a pause toward the end of yesterday’s pre-trial hearing in Parkton residents’ lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination from a neighborhood gas station.

Judge J. Norris Byrnes broke the silence with a comment.

“I want to know if we signed a .400 hitter or a long reliever,” he said.

The comment was timely for two reasons.

First, the residents are represented by Peter Angelos, also known as the owner of the Baltimore Orioles. The judge’s comment was directed toward H. Russell Smouse, who was sitting in the courtroom gallery. Smouse is the Orioles’ general counsel.

Second, baseball executives and personnel have converged on Indianapolis this week for the annual Winter Meetings, the official start of the off-season wheeling and dealing commonly referred to as the Hot Stove league.

As the lawyers in the courtroom smiled, Smouse replied.

“We’re hoping to sign you,” he told Byrnes.

The judge chuckled. He is retired and specially assigned to the Parkton case.

“I am a long reliever,” Byrnes said.

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