Suns play home opener

April 15, 1997


Staff Writer

Grant Brown, 5, just started playing T-ball this year. On Tuesday, he came out to watch the big boys play at the Hagerstown Suns opening day.

"I'm hoping they'll stay here another 20 years or more so he can grow up and see baseball in Hagerstown," said Grant's father, Joel Brown of Hagerstown. "I've got a feeling if these guys leave after this year we'll never see another professional baseball team."

Attendance this season will be a big factor in whether Hagerstown keeps its minor league baseball team. The team is entering a critical fifth year in a 10-year lease with the city.


Owner Winston Blenckstone was a little disappointed in Tuesday's opening day attendance of But he's optimistic.

"It's not how you start, it's how you finish. The crowds always build as the season grows," he said. The Suns will play 142 games this season, 71 of them at home.

Mary Jane Henson, 52, said she attends almost every game.

"It gives me a night out and I enjoy baseball," said Henson, a third-grade teacher at St. Mary's in Hagerstown.

Besides, it's fun to meet the players.

"They need people to support them, give them a goal to win," she said.

It was a prime springtime day, with temperatures in the 60s, falling into the 50s after dark.

For Todd Bolton of Smithsburg, opening day signals the start of spring.

"I bring my kids out. We have an enjoyable, nice evening and not spend a fortune," said Bolton, 43.

These days, his sons Graham, 16, and Spencer, 14, spend more time watching girls than they do the game, he said.

Because opening day coincided with tax day this year, two U.S. Postal Service letter carriers camped out beside the ticket window to accept last-minute tax returns.

Although they brought enough bins for hundreds of returns, they had only collected one by the time Hagerstown Mayor Steven T. Sager threw out the first pitch.

Dave Martin, 31, of Rouzerville, Pa., looked like he was at the wrong sporting event. His sweatshirt, shoes, baseball hat and wallet were all emblazoned with the Dallas Cowboys logo.

"As you can tell, I'm more into football than I am baseball," said Martin, who got his ticket from his employer, Fuji Color in Williamsport.

Tom Caron, 56, has been a regular at the games since 1981.

"I think this is special for minor league. People who want to come out, come out. The rest of them just make excuses," Caron said.

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