The entrance to Max Kehne Memorial Park, the West Seventh Street landmark, sits at the small intersection just at the bottom of the Rt.15 South exit ramp. The simple wooden sign that displays the park’s name stands with bright white letters and a sturdy foundation. The sign was recently renovated as part of the memorial’s makeover that began last summer. What many people may not know is how or why the park was named after Kehne, a well-known figure around Frederick for his astounding aptitude for fast-pitch softball and devotion to civic duties.
A Frederick High School graduate, Kehne grew up as a hard-working farm boy from Walkersville. When he wasn’t aiding his family with daily chores on the farm, he would indulge in his interest for softball. The youngest player to take the mound in the all-men’s athletic division- The Dr. Pepper League- he was only 15 years old when he debuted with a 2-hitter and a 10-0 win against the B-26 Wings. His fast-pitch game was unmatched. Thus began the newly appointed, long term nickname- “Fireball Kehne”.
Aside from becoming a household word around the Frederick area for his softball skills, Max grew up to be a much-respected servant of Frederick County. He was the supervisor of maintenance at Hood College; a position that lead to his involvement in a number of local activities, including his role as the Thomas Johnson High School football announcer, president of the Frederick Exchange Club, and his responsibilities for hanging the beloved Christmas lights around town for the holidays. “He was always a civic servant,” his son Jeff said of his father. After many years, Max advanced into the role as a Frederick City Alderman in 1970.
“He was a much respected man with no enemies,” his wife Joann said. “He was so personable and liked by everybody he met.”
Max Kehne was killed by a drunk driver on April 19th 1973, just as he traveled home from his new position as a public figure for the state of Maryland. Max Kehne Memorial Park was dedicated to the Frederick City servant on May 22nd, 1977, four years after his death.
This year celebrates the 38th year that the park has served as a local landmark and an active location for over 17 different little league and adult Co-Ed Softball games for the majority of the Spring, Summer, and Autumn seasons. The area recently underwent a number of upgrades to maintain and preserve this historic landmark for the city of Frederick…