Suns encouraged by preseason sales

March 11, 1997


Staff Writer

If ticket sales are the lifeblood of baseball, the Hagerstown Suns have gotten a much-needed transfusion.

Thanks to a new sales approach and the possibility of a local star returning home to play, there's a strong heartbeat for the Class A South Atlantic League team for the upcoming season.

The Suns will open their 18th season - fifth as a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate - strengthened by a 15 percent increase in preseason sales, including tickets, according to Hagerstown Suns general manager David Blenckstone.

"We have done really well," Blenckstone said. "People have been very receptive to us this season. We haven't heard any excuses about our affiliation or the class of baseball. We have been very encouraged."


Blenckstone said it is difficult to attach an exact number to the amount of tickets sold. Many of the sales have been group sales and the sizes of groups vary, he said.

A contributing factor to the sales increase is the anticipation of former Waynesboro High School star Matt White coming to town to pitch for the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs. The four-game series from June 4-7 has generated more than 14,000 in ticket sales.

"The possibility of Matt White pitching here has given us a big boost, but that is only four of 71 days that we will be open this season," Blenckstone said. "Still, that will be a big weekend for us because it will bring in more people from that area who may have never been to this ballpark before. We still believe that if we can get you to come here once, we can get you to come back again."

The Suns have enjoyed the surge in sales despite a tug-of-war caused by the request for a new stadium. The move for the new facility has been turned down by county and state government officials.

"We just want to be treated like every other baseball team in Maryland," Blenckstone said. "All the other teams are playing in the Taj Mahal. Each one is probably playing in facilities that have to be considered the best in their leagues. We are playing in a park built in 1931 that has had four floods in four years."

The Suns open the season with a 12-game road trip, beginning April 3 in Macon, Ga. They open the home schedule April 15 against Capital City. Tickets are available for all games and despite the uncertainty caused by the stadium situation, the Suns have high expectations.

"It will be our fifth season here and, if nothing happens (with the stadium), we'll just keep plugging along," Blenckstone said. "That's what we've always done, plugged along and not worry about it ... and so far, there hasn't been much to worry about."

The Herald-Mail Articles