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Towson University

Lozeno “Mike” Plater
By Benjamin Hughes
For BaltimoreStories.com

Lorenzo Plater is so excited and proud to talk about Baltimore basketball. Plater, wearing a green hat with logo Cloverdale/BBA logo over his gray hair, pointed at different pictures and shirts from years ago. His shiny green coat also was adorned with the encircled four leaf clover covered his tall frame.

The walls of the cinderblock building are plastered with pictures of different Baltimore city games and tournaments. Just about every picture he has hanging, he could name all the people in them. There are trophies on one side of the building but it is the history of 25 years captured in the pictures that draws one’s attention. There are also T-shirts cut to fit the already filled up walls, from different tournament and leagues that his teams have played in or against. He knows why so many kids play basketball.

“You got one court, two goals, and 25 kids, you need but one ball,” Plater said. “You don’t need any equipment and it’s cheap, just 10 white shirts and the other team will be skins.”

Back in 1958 Dr. Warren Hammond, Freddy Shelton, William Harris, Earl Garner and Plater got together to form a playground league at the courts on McCullogh Street and Cloverdale Road.

For 25 years Plater, 72, has run a summer league at the playground across from Druid Hill Park. The City Game, the biggest basketball game that city plays every year, has drawn the top players Baltimore has produced in the last quarter century. But he has also seen the competition from other cities when he travels with the all-star team to different spots on the East Coast.

“It’s always even-steven,” Plater said. “They all come from the playground. They are all the same. Some have different styles but everyone comes from under that bridge.”

The Cloverdale courts are one of the nicest outdoor courts in the city. The courts, which were redone in 1995, have aluminum bleachers at either end and large lights for night games. The park is surrounded by roads on all sides.

“The Cloverdale courts have been leased from the city of Baltimore about 30 years ago,” the former addictions counselor said. “We use facilities that the city doesn’t use.”

With no city funding or sponsors and very little publicity from the media (except this past summer when
Carmelo Anthony hosted a tournament this past summer), the leagues continue to be run by Plater and other volunteers.

“The trick is parents do it,” Plater said about getting people to cook meals, clean up, drive to different locations or coach. He also knows how to ask when he wants something for the league. “If Mr. Platter asks for something, I’m going to get it because they know what I am doing.”

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