Archie Stimmel

This article was written by Nelson ‘Chip’ Greene

Twenty-seven miles due south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, lies the town of Woodsboro, Maryland, the lifelong home of Archie Stimmel.[1] At the turn of the twentieth century, he was a tall, wiry right-handed pitcher who briefly made a name for himself with the Cincinnati Reds, crossed paths with many of the game’s earliest superstars, bounced around the minor leagues for several years, then returned home to an assortment of odd jobs and a life of minor celebrity. By some accounts, once he left the game he had trouble controlling his temper. Nevertheless, twenty-four years after his death, the former major leaguer was honored with a small measure of immortality.

The first thing that stands out when researching Stimmel’s life is an inconsistency regarding his name. On Stimmel’s headstone in Woodsboro, his name appears as Archie M. Stimmel (his middle name was May); likewise, he was eulogized as such in his obituary. Yet on his World War I draft registration, written in cursive presumably by Stimmel himself, his name is spelled Archie M. Stimmell, with two Ls; conversely, in the 1920 census, he is listed as Archibald M. Stimmel. In addition, Baseball-Reference and Retrosheet, two highly respected sources in 2011, list him as Archibald Ray Stimmel. However, as most contemporary accounts and also genealogical records identify Stimmel as Archie May, absent a birth certificate it seems safe that Stimmel’s given name was in fact Archie, not the more formal Archibald.     

Stimmel was born in Woodsboro on Memorial Day, May 30, 1873, and died there, too, reportedly in the same house where he was born. That house, at 111 Main Street, still stands; built around 1830, it is listed in the Maryland Historical Trust Inventory of Historic Places as the George Stimmel House. In 2010, it was listed for sale by private owners, who marketed the house as the former pitcher’s longtime residence.  

Over the years there were a lot of Stimmels in Woodsboro. Edward H. Stimmel, Archie’s father, was a laborer, and in 1841, when he was twenty-five, he married twenty-year-old Susan Derham. After just three years of marriage, however, Susan died childless, and soon thereafter Edward married Mary Jane Barrick, who was twelve years younger than her husband. Over the next twenty-seven years, the two produced seven children: John, the eldest, was born when Mary Jane was just eighteen years old; and Archie, the youngest, when she was forty-five. In between there were four additional sons and one daughter, and throughout their lives all the children seem to have stayed close to home. According to the 1880 census, James was a butcher in town, and Thomas, a laborer. Moreover, an 1884 article in the local paper, when Archie was eleven, indicated that John Stimmel purchased 100 acres of Woodsboro land at auction. 

Little is known about the youngest Stimmel’s childhood. If and when he attended school in Woodsboro or elsewhere, records don’t seem to exist. The first trail of the young ballplayer begins in the mid-1890s, when Stimmel was in his early twenties. In his obituary it was noted that “‘Big Stim’ began his trek at Gettysburg College during the ’90s as a pitcher.”  Perhaps so, but it can’t be confirmed; according to the college’s athletic office, their records don’t go back that far. In April 1894, though, when Stimmel was twenty-one, the Frederick News reported that “there is some talk of forming a base ball [sic] association in [Frederick] county, composed of ” nine local towns, including Woodsboro. On July 6, the paper further reported that, two days earlier, “the Woodsboro senior club defeated the Taneytown Seniors by a score of 19 to 7. Wood and Stimmel were the winning battery.” That seems to be Stimmel’s earliest appearance on the local sports pages.  

He was twenty-three years old when he first took the mound as a professional.  In 1896, records show Stimmel briefly on the roster of the Scranton (Pennsylvania) Miners, in the Class A Eastern League, although it’s unclear whether or not he played for the team.[2] Soon, however, he joined Pottsville, in the Class B Pennsylvania State League, seventy miles south of Scranton. There, in fifteen games (fourteen starts) he worked 126 innings, won six, lost eight, and posted a 3.29 ERA, and his career was underway. (That year he also pitched single games in Roanoke, Virginia, and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania).

By the time the 1897 Class B Atlantic League season opened, Stimmel had moved south and joined a new team, the Richmond (Virginia) Giants. There, he became the fourth starter in an impressive rotation. In Sam Leever and Jack Chesbro, Richmond boasted two men who would go on to highly successful major league careers. Leever was the ace of the staff. In 34 games covering 316 innings, he won 21 and lost 18, with a miniscule ERA of 1.05; Chesbro, who was destined for the Hall of Fame, had a losing record of 16-18, but still posted a 1.80 ERA in 289 innings; and a third starter, twenty-four-year- old Henry Schmidt[3], won 20 and lost 13, with an ERA of 1.32. For his part, in 140 innings, Stimmel won eight and lost six, with a 1.41 ERA. If he was not yet the caliber of his more accomplished teammates, it appeared Stimmel’s star was on the rise. 

It’s difficult to know what kind of pitcher he was; any descriptions of Stimmel’s skills have apparently been lost to history. A review of available statistics, though, indicates that the six-foot- tall, 175-pound right-hander often struggled with control, as his strikeout-to-walk ratio usually hovered around 1:1. In several seasons, in fact, he walked more batters than he struck out. In his lone season at Pottsville, for example, Stimmel struck out fifty-five batters in 126 innings, but walked sixty-four.

Yet we do have one glimpse of the young pitcher, and that derives from his nickname. During his playing career Stimmel was frequently referred to as “Bald Eagle,” or simply “Baldy.” While the origin of those monikers is unclear, one look at existing photos suggests that they probably had something to do with his very thin head of hair.

 Back in Woodsboro, in March 1898, the Frederick News announced, “Archie Stimmel… the well known crack pitcher, has gone to Charlotte, N.C., to practice preparatory to joining the Richmond, Va., club for the season.” That year the team changed its name to the Bluebirds, and once again Leever, Chesbro and Stimmel anchored their starting rotation. All three were just a few short years away from pitching in the National League.     

The next two seasons solidified Stimmel’s status as a prospect. It was in Allentown, Pennsylvania, that the tall right-hander came to prominence. The team was the Allentown Peanuts, of the Class A Atlantic League; Stimmel joined the team in 1899 and spent the entire season on the Allentown roster. Among his teammates were three brothers, Joe, Jim, and Tom Delahanty, three-fifths of a famous family who all eventually reached the major leagues. The most famous, of course, was the eldest brother, Ed, who was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.

Not only were Stimmel and the Delahantys teammates, but they also apparently shared the same living quarters. According to the 1900 census, the pitcher lived at a boarding house at 835 Hamilton Street, in Lehigh, Pennsylvania. On the census Stimmel listed his occupation as ‘baseball player,’ and his three Delahanty teammates (their last name was spelled Delehanty on the census) were also listed among the boarders in the house. It’s intriguing to envision the quartet perhaps lounging around the sitting room, living the life of young ballplayers, telling tales and discussing their futures.

One wonders if Stimmel sensed that his own future was about to get a little bit brighter.   

By 1900, Stimmel had been in organized ball for four years. That year, he finally reached the major leagues. While the chain of events that propelled him to baseball’s highest level is unclear, records indicate that the 27-year-old opened that season with Allentown and spent several months with the Peanuts. Yet by the summer, he had moved on to a new team. Apparently, big league scouts had been watching Stimmel’s work in Allentown, because on July 6, 1900, pitching before a home crowd at Cincinnati’s League Park, the right-hander started for the Cincinnati Reds and suffered a 10-0 complete game loss against the Brooklyn Superbas. It’s not clear whether that appearance constituted his major league debut, as Stimmel also made a relief appearance for Cincinnati that year, but regardless, in a total of thirteen innings over two games, the right-hander recorded a win and a loss in his initial foray as a major leaguer.

That brief stay with the Reds appears to have been little more than a tryout, however. In light of Stimmel’s 6.92 ERA, it seems that Cincinnati manager Bob Allen had seen enough and likely decided Stimmel wasn’t yet ready for the major leagues. Beginning July 11, just five days after his drubbing at the hands of Brooklyn, Stimmel joined the staff of the Indianapolis Hoosiers, in the Class A American League, and he finished the season there with five wins and four losses in ten starts. As things turned out, though, Stimmel wasn’t yet through in Cincinnati.   

Whatever Stimmel’s feelings may have been about playing in the major leagues, they apparently went unrecorded. Throughout his life, though, back home in Woodsboro, Stimmel seems to have been somewhat of a raconteur. In his 1958 obituary it was written that Stimmel “pitched for the Reds when the pasture was covered by Jimmy Barrett in left, Sam Crawford in center, and fleet-footed little Harry Bey in right.”[4] That was undoubtedly an attempt by the writer to evoke the nascent, simpler days of the turn-of-the-century brand of baseball that Stimmel had played. Reportedly, the old right-hander would regale anyone who would listen with stories of those days. One story, reported in the obituary, seems apocryphal. According to the reporter, Stimmel would relate stories “about his services with the Indianapolis team during the early years of the American League. On the last day of the season,” the reporter expounded, “Indy played the ‘Comiskies.’ Stimmel faced Griffith. After the game the two pitchers conversed. The ‘Old Fox’ is supposed to have said, ‘If I had that arm, boy, I’d go a long way.” To which Stimmel’s reply was, “Yes, and if I had your head I’d go a lot farther.” As Griffith was with the Chicago Cubs during Stimmel’s first service with Indianapolis in 1900, and with the White Sox in 1901 after Indy had folded and left the league, it doesn’t appear the two could have faced each other on the last day of any American League season. Nevertheless, the story offers a good example of what it must have been like sitting in the parlor with Stimmel as he relived his career.

As 1901 dawned, Stimmel prepared to leave Woodsboro to train for the upcoming season. On April 1, the Frederick News reported that “Mr. Archie Stimmel will leave April 1 to join the Indianapolis, Ind., Athletic Association, of which club he is a pitcher, standing second among the five pitchers in the club last year.” In 1901, the Hoosiers represented the town of Matthews, Indiana, and played in the Western Association. Little is known about Stimmel’s performance that season, but on June 9, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, the hometown paper of the league’s Fort Wayne Railroaders, reported that the previous afternoon “the home team [Fort Wayne] was close to victory several times, but lost out after a hard battle—Stimmel struck out nine and Mullen five men… Stimmel out-pitched Mullen.” (The Mullen mentioned was apparently George Mullin, the ace of the Fort Wayne staff.)

By July, Stimmel had appeared in eighteen games for the Hoosiers. That summer, though, as the Western League prepared to become what is today’s American League, the Indianapolis club disbanded, and Stimmel, reported the Frederick News, was “assigned to the Cincinnati, Ohio, club of the National League, a much more desirable place.” So Stimmel once again headed for Cincinnati.

Over the remainder of the 1901 National League season, he wasn’t very good, although, to be fair, neither were the Reds. At the time Stimmel joined Cincinnati, the Reds, under new manager Bid McPhee, were in seventh place with a record of 32-48 and were fighting to stay ahead of the last-place Cubs, who were 34-54. (Chicago eventually overtook Cincinnati and the Reds finished last that season.) In Stimmel’s first three starts he opposed Chicago each time and lost all three games, although perhaps an injury was partly to blame. On July 30, in a 5-4 loss at home, the Associated Press reported that “Archie Stimmel started… lumbago is still in his back… he pitched one inning, during which time Chicago scored three runs on two hits, a base on balls and a hit by pitcher.“[5] A week later, on August 6, again at home, he opposed future Hall of Famer Rube Waddell, who, the AP reported, “dished up his whole repertoire of foolers.” Against the legendary southpaw, “‘Baldy’ Stimmel would have had to pitch a most remarkable game to win from Rube, for he was not well supported. Neither,” however, “did he pitch a good game. [Stimmel] lacked the ability to prevent a hit just when it would do the most damage.” [6]

Indeed, that seems an apt description of his season. By the time it was over, Stimmel had appeared in twenty games for Cincinnati, eighteen as a starter, and won just four of eighteen decisions. Yet that performance would prove to be his best effort as a major leaguer, as Stimmel compiled 153 innings and completed fourteen games. Apparently, his work did not go unnoticed, because on September 30, the Frederick News reported that Stimmel “has a flattering offer to play with the Brooklyn, New York team next year, but has not yet accepted.” It appears that he never did. 

The following year was Stimmel’s last as a major leaguer, and it was an abbreviated one. After opening the season at home by dropping three of four to Chicago, Cincinnati traveled to Pittsburgh for the defending champion Pirates’ home opener, and McPhee sent Stimmel to the mound. Opposing him for the Pirates was Stimmel’s old Richmond teammate, Sam Leever. In a 4-3 loss, reported the press, “Cincinnati’s elongated twirler Archie Stimmel allowed 13 hits.”[7] He wasn’t much better on May 10, either, as the Boston Braves came to Cincinnati and beat him, 4-3. That day, the AP reported, “the visitors won because they pounded bold Archie Stimmel in the two innings that he was groping around like a blind man in an alley trying to locate the plate.” Indeed, “there wasn’t an inning of the nine in which ‘bold Archie’ did not play a thinking part, for the bases were occupied by one or more tourists in every one of them.”[8] In that game, Stimmel allowed ten hits and seven walks, and also uncorked a wild pitch, and by then McPhee had no doubt seen enough: after one more start and one relief appearance, Stimmel was sent to the American Association. His major league career had come to end.    

He wasn’t yet through with baseball, though. Following Stimmel’s release by Cincinnati, he joined the St. Paul Saints, whose offense featured a 24-year-old second baseman named Miller Huggins. There, Stimmel’s 14 wins were third highest on the club. The following season, Stimmel then began a two-year stint with the American Association’s Minneapolis Millers, although in 1903 he split time between the Millers and the Milwaukee Brewers of the same league. (His combined record that year was 18-16). Stimmel’s time with the latter club was highlighted by a colorful story later told by Milwaukee’s manager, Joe Cantillon.

In 1914, Cantillon, then managing Minneapolis, stopped by a newspaper office in Chicago and reminisced about an incident that took place during the 1903 season.  

“I had a catcher once, Cantillon recalled, “who caught for the balance of a season, nearly three months, without giving a sign. That was Kid Speer. It was back in 1903, when I was manager at Milwaukee. We were going pretty tough and had big Archie Stimmel pitching for us.

 “Toledo had a player called Red Owens. His first time up he made a hit which scored two runs. The players’ bench was close to the plate at Armory Park and I called to Speer. ‘What did you call for Kid?’

“ ‘A high fast one outside,’ said Speer.

“He was right, but I was sore, and said, ‘Great Scot! Trying to throw the game?’ I could see him getting red around the neck as he crouched down for the next play. Next time Owens came up he hit a long double. It scored two more runs.

“ ‘What’d you sign for then?’ I roared.

“ ‘A wide curve,’ bawled Speer, as he set his teeth.

“ ‘Well, wha’d you expect? Any rube would know more than that,’ I said.

“Speer grabbed his cap and threw it on the ground. ‘Any time any one makes a hit I’m the fall guy. I’m through with this signing business.’

“Speer settled behind the bat to receive the ball delivered to the next batsman and I could see big Stimmel stretching his neck trying to get the sign.

“ ‘Well what is it?’ yelled Stimmel.

“Pitch,’ yelled Speer: ‘there ain’t no sign, and there wasn’t any that day or any other day during the season.”[9]

It must have been quite entertaining to see ‘Baldy’ Stimmel pitch that day.

As he turned 31 years old in 1904, Stimmel ‘s career was winding down. That year, the right-hander completed his second season in Minneapolis, playing for a manager named Bill Watkins, for whom Stimmel had also played in Indianapolis. In February 1905, however, the press reported that “Watkins will lose ‘Bald Archie’ Stimmel, as the tall pitcher has agreed to manage the Calumet Country league, an organization outside the pale of organized base ball [sic]… Stimmel says he will get as much money as he did last year and will not have to play over two games a week.”[10]

 It’s unclear whether Stimmel ever managed in the Calumet Country league. Regardless, he eventually spent that season and the next in the Western League, playing for the Colorado Springs Millionaires. Midway through 1905, the team relocated to Pueblo, Colorado, and became the Pueblo Indians, and Stimmel spent all of 1906 there. One final season remained in his career.

In 1907, Stimmel changed teams for the last time. At some point that spring he had apparently tried out for the Western League’s Sioux City Packers, but by August, it was reported that “Stimmel, who was not good enough for Sioux City, is the star of the Lincoln pitching corps.”[11] Playing then for the Lincoln (Nebraska) Treeplanters, and their manager, “Duckie” Holmes, it was later reported in Stimmel’s obituary that “in the twilight of his career [Stimmel] relieved a young kid on the mound who Holmes had just sold to the White Sox. ‘Duckie’ was trying to protect his protégé by using Stimmel in late innings.” That player was right-hander Eddie Cicotte.

At the conclusion of the 1907 season, Stimmel returned home to Woodsboro, where he stayed for virtually the remainder of his life. In the spring of 1908, Holmes sent the pitcher a contract and a train ticket from Nebraska, but thirty days later, Stimmel had yet to respond. Finally, the telegrapher in Woodsboro wired back Stimmel’s refusal to accept Holmes’s offer. At the age of 34, the right-hander retired from the game for good.

He had ample reason to remain in his hometown. In April 1907, Stimmel’s brother, John, who was then quite prominent in Woodsboro real estate and other ventures, had sold to Archie and another brother, George, a Woodsboro lot for $1000. But more importantly, after Stimmel returned home that fall, on November 18, 1907, he wed Abigail Young, a 32-year-old Woodsboro schoolteacher. Rather than play another season, Stimmel had decided to start a life with his new bride. 

Unfortunately, by some accounts, their life was less than serene. Whether subsequent events were founded in part by any frustration over his professional life can’t be known, but over the years Stimmel maintained a wide variety of occupations. In the 1910 census he was listed as the owner of a butcher shop in Woodsboro. [12]At the time, he and Abigail lived at 111 Main Street with Stimmel’s older brother, George, who was then 54 years old (Stimmel was 36). Eight years later Stimmel was a storekeeper in town; and on June 13, 1918, an item appeared in the New Oxford (Pennsylvania) Item that reported Stimmel “has accepted a position as bar clerk at the Colonnade Hotel,” in McSherrytown, Pennsylvania.[13] Two years later, however, he had returned to Woodsboro and was working as a salesman at a merchandise store.

Yet there was one additional position, too, seemingly the last we can trace, and it was by far Stimmel’s most prestigious and important one.  It’s not known what the qualifications were for the job, but in January 1922, the Frederick County Board of Commissioners elected the former big-leaguer to be Superintendent of Montevue Hospital in the neighboring town of Frederick, Maryland. Montevue served as Frederick County’s almshouse and hospital, and once Stimmel took up his new post, he and his wife lived on the hospital grounds. It was supposed to have been a multi-year appointment.

Within a year, however, Stimmel had resigned the position under discomfiting circumstances. On February 10, 1923, the Frederick News reported that charges had been filed stating “Mr. Stimmel and Warden John Oland became involved in a dispute a few days ago, during which Mr. Stimmel struck Mr. Oland.” The County Commissioners subsequently reviewed the charges and found them to be accurate, whereupon Stimmel handed in his resignation. As it turned out, that episode wasn’t the first time that Stimmel’s temper had gotten him into trouble.

Ten years earlier there had been a precedent for Stimmel’s bad behavior. On November 13, 1913, the Frederick Post had headlined, “Ex-Baseball Player Held for Beating Wife.” That arrest was the culmination of a sordid sequence of events. In Woodsboro, the Stimmels and Abigail’s sister, Salome, lived next door to each other. According to reports, at the Stimmels’ home the previous day, an intoxicated Stimmel had begun “to whip and curse his wife.” Soon, he “began to hit her, and drove her from the house.” That afternoon, Salome’s beau, a man named Harry Winebrenner, was visiting Salome, and when he saw Stimmel in the street hitting Abigail, he ran outside and began fighting with Stimmel. Both men were subsequently arrested and taken into custody, but at the courthouse, Stimmel remained aggressive and had to be subdued. Eventually, Stimmel was fined $20, and Winebrenner, $5, and both men were released. For Stimmel, however, the ugly incident had shown the darker side of his character. (Ironically, ten years later, Harry and Stimmel became brothers-in-law when Harry and Salome were married.)

Despite that event, Abigail and Stimmel’s marriage endured until the end of their days, although accounts indicate they didn’t always share the same house (the couple never had children, either). In the 1930 census, when Stimmel was 57 years old, Abigail, who listed her occupation as ‘proofreader,’ is listed as head of household, living alone in the house on Main Street, which was valued at $1,250. Stimmel’s whereabouts at the time are unknown.

Given his baseball past, Stimmel could never disappear, however. Indeed, historians would always know that to find him; they merely had to look towards Woodsboro. A good example occurred in February 1950, when the sports editor of the Frederick News reported on February 24 that “Lee Allen, who bears the unique title of ‘Alumni Secretary’ of the Cincinnati Reds baseball club, writes to inquire where Archie Stimmel… can be located. We are pleased to advise Mr. Allen that Archie and his wife are still residents of Woodsboro and that he remains active through his advancing years. His memories of the ‘good old days’ of baseball are still clear as they were forty years ago. Archie may qualify as the oldest living alumnus of the Cincinnati club.” At the time, Stimmel was 77 years old.

On May 29, 1952, Abigail M. Young Stimmel died at her home in Woodsboro at the age of 76. Six years later, in 1958, after being removed from his Woodsboro home by ambulance on August 16, Archie then passed away at Frederick Memorial Hospital at 4:00 a.m. the following day. He was 85 years old, and the last member of his immediate family. Today, the two lie interred together at Woodsboro’s Mt. Hope Cemetery.

If Stimmel is today largely forgotten in Woodsboro, there is one place where his memory remains alive, well over 100 years since his baseball heyday. In 1976, to honor athletic excellence among residents of Frederick County, the Frederick County YMCA began the Alvin G. Quinn Frederick County YMCA Sports Hall of Fame, named after the Y’s first executive director. In the Hall’s inaugural class of 1977, Charlie Keller, from nearby Middletown, was inducted. Since then, among the Frederick County athletes to gain induction have been baseball players Ted Beard, with the second class in 1978; Hal Keller, in 1984; Charles Keller III, in 1989, and Washington Senators pitcher, Don Loun, in 1999.

Archie Stimmel was elected with the Hall’s sixth class, in February 1982.

April 22, 2011


— My sincerest appreciation to SABR member Bill Mortell for his diligent genealogical research.

Frederick News, Frederick, Maryland

The Newark Advocate, Newark, Ohio

Hamilton Daily Democrat, Hamilton, Ohio

Muskogee Democrat, Muskogee, Oklahoma

The Star Publications, Chicago

The Lima Daily News, Lima, Ohio

New Oxford Item, New Oxford, Pennsylvania

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana

[1] The only other major leaguer from Woodsboro is Ted Beard. Refer to his bio at the Biography Project website.

[2] does not display any stats for the team that year; likewise, his tenure with the team reportedly lasted just one day. 

[3] Curiously, in 1903, Schmidt, then 30 years old, was 22-13 for Brooklyn, in what turned out to be his only major league season. After winning 44 games the next two seasons for Oakland, in the Pacific Coast League, Schmidt played for five different teams over the next three years and amassed an abysmal record of 21-35.  

[4] Whether the reporter had gotten from Stimmel first-hand accounts of the pitcher’s career, or simply researched the information, he got it wrong. While Barrett and the 20-year-old Crawford did play in the Cincinnati outfield in 1900, Crawford played left and Barrett center. IN 1901, only Crawford remained, and he was moved to his Hall of Fame position in rightfield. Bay, however, was a little-used reserve on the 1901 and ’02 Reds. 

[5] Hamilton (OH) Daily Democrat, July 31, 1901

[6] Ibid, August 7, 1901

[7] Associated Press via the Newark (OH) Advocate, April 23, 1902

[8] Associated Press via the Boston Daily Globe, May 10, 1902

[9] Associated Press via The Lima (OH) Daily News, January 9, 1914

[10] The Muskogee (OK) Democrat, February 9, 1905

[11] The Star Publications, August 8, 1907

[12] It’s likely that Stimmel’s butcher shop was the lower floor of the house at 111 Main Street. According to the Inventory of Historic Places, the Stimmel house, which was built around 1830, primarily functioned as an upstairs residence and lower floor commercial establishment. Records indicate that the lower floor was most likely the Stimmel Saloon first, and then later a store.

[13] Two Stimmel connections to Gettysburg indicate that he may indeed have attended Gettysburg College. First, McSherrytown is located just thirteen miles from Gettysburg; and second, on the may 14, 1918, society page of the Gettysburg Times reported that Stimmel was among several men “visiting friends in town.”

Full Name

Archibald Ray Stimmel


May 30, 1873 at Woodsboro, MD (USA)


August 18, 1958 at Frederick, MD (USA)

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