by Edward Lee/Baltimore Sun

Original Story here

A Highlandtown native, Carol Hale had never attended a live sporting event for a significant portion of her life. Even after her son had purchased the Baltimore Blast of the Major Arena Soccer League in 1988, her reaction was muted.

“When I told her that I bought the Baltimore Blast and asked her, ‘Do you want to go?,’ she said, ‘I don’t know,’” Edwin F. Hale, Sr. said. “It was just like an afterthought.”

Mrs. Hale eventually relented and caught the fever.

“She sat there and was totally immersed in the whole thing, seeing the game, seeing the players, seeing the whole spectacle,” Mr. Hale said from his home in Easton. “She was just so impressed. She was so enthusiastic about it. She was the No. 1 Blast fan.”

Mrs. Hale, who became a teacher’s assistant for Baltimore County Public Schools and raised five children, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday at Woodlands Assisted Living in Middle River. She would have celebrated her 95th birthday Dec. 22.

Despite her initial reluctance, Mrs. Hale became a devoted fan who attended every home game. David Bascome, who knew Mrs. Hale during his playing days with the Blast as a forward from 2003 to 2008, an assistant coach from 2006 to 2020, and the head coach since 2020, called her “the fabric of this franchise.”

“Her son has done everything in his power to keep this running and keep this surviving, and you can feel where it comes from,” said Mr. Bascome, who often referred to Mrs. Hale as “Mums.” “Her passion and her drive, she loved the game, and she loved the players. And it wasn’t just one player. It was everyone that she loved.”

Mrs. Hale was the second of three children raised by the former Bertha Schlipp, a homemaker, and Frank Feehley, a World War I veteran and battalion fire chief for Baltimore City. She grew up during the Great Depression, and even though her father maintained a steady job, the family was not immune from the effects of the Great Depression.

“It was a struggle at times,” her son said. “I know it was hard for them.”

But Mr. Hale said the Depression actually fortified his mother, who dove deeper into her Presbyterian faith.

“I think it made her a more religious person,” he said. “She was thankful for everything that she had. She was a totally upbeat and great person in terms of having camaraderie in the neighborhood. The neighborhood meant a lot to her, and the church meant a lot to her. I think it strengthened her. If anything, it made her stronger. The Depression did not get her down.”

The former Ms. Feehley attended Patterson High School, but did not graduate because she had to work at an early age during World War II. In 1945, she met Edwin H. Hale, who had been discharged from the Navy in Baltimore after serving in the Mediterranean, and they married in December at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Highlandtown.

While Mr. Hale began at Baltimore Gas and Electric as a cable splicer and was eventually promoted to superintendent where he was heavily involved in managing the installation of underground cables in the planned community of Columbia, Mrs. Hale raised their five children and worked as a teacher’s assistant at Edgemere Elementary School in Dundalk.

Her son said Mrs. Hale enjoyed working with children and adults alike.

“She was a people person’s people person,” he said. “She loved company. She was very well liked at the nursing home. We struggled to get her out of the house, but once she got there, she became one of the leaders there.”

Bill Eydelloth, whose family grew up in the same neighborhood as the Hale family, said his parents, William and Evelyn Eydelloth, were fond of Mr. and Mrs. Hale.

“Whenever their name came up, they would speak up about how the family is such a great family and how the family is so tight-knit and how they’re great people and how they just fit into the neighborhood and everything,” Mr. Eydelloth recalled. “If anybody needed anything or needed help, they were there to help.”

After Mr. Hale bought the Blast, his mother embodied the family nature of the team. Mr. Bascome recalled joining the Blast around Thanksgiving in 2003 with no plans and no family. Mrs. Hale insisted he eat and spend the holiday at her home.

“It was like the Baltimore Blast was her house, and everybody who stepped in the house was welcomed with open arms,” Mr. Bascome said. “You just can appreciate that smile. And the hugs? You know when you get some people that hug you? Oh no, she embraced you, and she gave you that squeeze and that little pat on the back, and it always came at the right time.”

Mr. Hale joked that his mother “would have disowned me” if he had sold the team. Ten years ago, his mother had a cancerous right lung removed. When she woke up Sunday night, she vowed to attend the next Blast game Friday night, which she did.

“She just had her lung excised!” her son marveled. “She couldn’t stay for the whole thing, but she went there and watched part of the game. That was her life.”

The Blast players and coaches will pay tribute to Mrs. Hale by wearing black armbands and heart-shaped patches with the initials “CH” on their jerseys for the remainder of this season and next year. Mr. Bascome said he hopes the patches stay as long as the franchise is up and running.

“It’s important that we understand that wearing the armbands and wearing the patches are the fabric of what she has been a part of,” he said. “This is not a one-off. Every jersey from now on, her initials have to be there because this is what she meant. And the young people that are coming to this game have to understand that so that when they ask the question, we can share the stories. It’s important that we show that respect, but that we also celebrate. Every win and even those tough losses are a celebration of the fabric that is her and the Hale family.”

Renowned for her smile and warmth, Mrs. Hale also wielded a wicked sense of humor. This past summer, she praised her son for bringing her favorite meal of a soft crab sandwich, a bowl of crab soup and a dessert of rice pudding.

“I asked, ‘Ma, who is the best son ever?’ She said, ‘Your brother Barry,’” Mr. Hale said with a chuckle.

Besides her son, Mrs. Hale is survived by another son, Barry Hale of Cherry Hill, New Jersey; two daughters, Jean Rukert of Baltimore and Robin Eichelberger of Perry Hall; 22 grandchildren; and 32 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, who died of a stroke in 2002, and her daughter, Jane Hale, who died of breast cancer in 2007.