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For a lousy two bucks...

September 03, 1998

Taxpayers, take note: The next time you wonder why the cost of government is getting out of hand, you can blame people like Carl Silverman of Waynesboro, Pa., who on Friday filed a federal suit over a discount promotion run by the Hagerstown Suns minor league baseball team.

The promotion, which provides discount admissions on Sunday to those who turn in a church bulletin, would have saved Silverman the grand sum of $2. For two lousy bucks, everybody has to go to court.

Silverman has argued that it's not the money, but the principle of the thing. But this is an essentially harmless promotion, since the Suns don't have the manpower to determine if you went to church to obtain the bulletin. Chances are you could type one up on your home computer and they'd never know the difference.

And as one of our readers, Edward James of Hancock, pointed out early in this controversy, Silverman isn't eligible for other promotions like Little League night, because he's too old to play on a team, or Senior Citizen night, because he's only 43. The point of these promotions is not to establish religion, or endorse one lifestyle over another, but to sell tickets.

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Silverman complains he's being stonewalled by the Suns, but what incentive do they have to back down? The controversy has spawned nationwide publicity and on August 18, more than 2,000 showed up for "Faith Community Night," a game held to raise money for the team's legal defense.

Unfortunately, because Municipal Stadium is owned by the City of Hagerstown, and because state and federal monies have been used for various improvement projects, Silverman and company will probably prevail.

But first the valuable time of the Maryland Human Relations Commission and the U.S. District Court will have been spent, at who knows what cost, to settle a $2 complaint, depriving the Suns of a valuable promotion and forcing Silverman to find a new nit to pick.

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