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White to come home after all

June 05, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL and BOB PARASILITI

Staff Writers

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro will get its local baseball hero back after all - at least for a night.

Though he won't be playing, former Waynesboro High School star pitcher Matt White will attend tonight's Hagerstown Suns game at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown. It has been declared "Matt White Night" for Waynesboro fans. The game begins at 7:05 p.m.

The game is the second in a four-game series between the Suns and the Charleston (S.C.) RiverDogs, the Class A affiliate of the new Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who signed White last summer.

Tampa Bay officials said earlier this week that White, 18, would remain at extended spring training camp in Florida, where he has been in extended rehabilitation for a back injury.

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After hearing that news, Waynesboro Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger made several calls to convince baseball officials that White's presence was important.

"I explained to them how important Matt was to the town and how much it would mean to Waynesboro," Hamberger said.

Suns owner Winston Blenckstone called Hamberger Wednesday afternoon with word that White would be able to attend tonight's game. He has to be back in Florida by Friday morning.

"It's refreshing for us to hear that he will be here," Blenckstone said. "Thursday will be a big night. It means that the posters being handed out with the title `Matt White Night' actually will mean something."

Without Hamberger's efforts, "Matt would not be here," said an elated Council member Vicki Huff, who has spearheaded a ticket-selling campaign for the event in the borough for weeks.

"We made a few phone calls," Hamberger said. "I don't know if they made a difference ... . This is for Matt and the people of Waynesboro. They wanted to turn out to give him a big sendoff and tell him we're all behind him."

"I think it's a great thing they're letting him come back," said Councilman Delmos Oldham, who was White's youth league coach for five years.

Oldham remembers starting White as a catcher in his first year of youth league baseball at the age of 8. But by the following year, White was on the pitcher's mound - a position he has held ever since.

"At age 8 he was as good as the 12-year-olds, and he got progressively better," Oldham said.

About 600 tickets marked specially for Matt White Night had been sold as of Wednesday, and Huff said she's hoping the good news will generate more sales.

Tickets can be purchased today at the following locations: Waynesboro Borough Office, Washington Township Municipal Building, The Parlor House restaurant, Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce and the Waynesboro News Agency.

Those who purchased tickets in the borough will be eligible to win items autographed by White.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will be placed in a special fund for the renovation and repairs that are needed at Waynesboro's Northside Pool.

White, who signed a free agent contract with a $10.2 million bonus with Tampa Bay, was expected to pitch with Charleston this season. But he suffered a stress fracture in his lower back during spring training and has been working out at the Devil Rays' extended spring training complex in Tampa.

White had his scheduled start in an extended spring game pushed back to attend tonight's game. He will leave after his appearance and return to Florida to throw 65 pitches in a game Friday. White should be assigned to a team next week.

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