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New hats, attitude greet new Suns affiliate

October 26, 2000

New hats, attitude greet new Suns affiliate



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


WILLIAMSPORT - Bill Sagle can honestly say he's an original.

Not only did the Sharpsburg resident become one of the first to board the bandwagon for the new Hagerstown Suns, he made himself a candidate to be its driver.

Sagle proudly donned a San Francisco Giants cap while sitting quietly in the back of the room at Williamsport Volunteer Fire Company banquet room. He was the first of the 125 fans who attended the team's sixth annual World Series party to show his allegiance to the Suns' new affiliation.

He wasn't showing off. Instead Sagle was making a statement.

"I'm glad to see that Hagerstown has an affiliation," Sagle said. "I like the original Giants team. I like the history. I like the San Francisco Giants because of Willie Mays and Will Clark when he first came up. But I wore the cap to get in the swing of things."

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These loyal Suns fans happily accept the Giants as the new affiliation. Some are a little apprehensive, especially since they made strong friendships with Toronto players and coaches over the last eight years.

But they are realistic. The move was good for Hagerstown and good for the Suns. The only thing that would make the change better is if local politicians can agree to replace Municipal Stadium.

"I have no problem with the affiliation change," said Bob Savitt, a Suns fan from Potomac, Md. "I liked Toronto. It didn't bother me ... I'm originally from New York, so my heart is with the New York Giants, though. It's fun to see a National League team here, so it can take care of some the (attendance) problems."

Toronto ended its rocky stay in Hagerstown after last season. Even though the team and the Blue Jays had a good working relationship, fans stayed away saying they couldn't back a foreign team who played against the Baltimore Orioles.

The change was viewed as a huge plus.

"I'm a huge Orioles fan, but the old affiliation didn't bother me," Sagle said. "But I work with rabid Orioles fans and they said they would never come to a game as long as Toronto was here. I haven't heard anyone say anything bad about the change ... it's all been positive."

Suns Fan Club president Gary Deweerd was one who had mixed feelings about the change, but will accept it for one major reason.

"I like it because we still have baseball in Hagerstown," Deweerd said. "It was a good move but I'm going to miss the organization parts of Toronto, like the visits by (minor league director) Jimmy Hoff and Dave Stewart. But I think the change will initially pick up some fans. It's a positive move for the team."

To these fans, baseball - not the affiliation - is the draw. They are proud that Hagerstown is one of 156 cities in the country to have an affiliated minor league baseball team and proud of the history that the Suns and now the Giants bring to the area.

"I went to 30-35 games last year and I plan to do it again this year," Sagle said. "I'm an Orioles fan, but when they were here they stiffed us. They had their chance to be here, but they just stiffed us."

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