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Beating everyone else to the Thanksgiving table

November 18, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

I live in the world of firsts.

First place.

First person.

First base.

I'm usually first in a buffet line (like you couldn't tell).

I'm the first out the door in a fire drill (bravery is overrated).

I'm first to know when I've done something wrong (everyone loves to tell me).

So, in my last column before the first part of the holiday season, I'm the first of a myriad of guys to write about things for which to be personally thankful.

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n I'm thankful for the North Hagerstown football team ... but not for the conventional reasons.

Not because the Hubs won a playoff game, had a stupendous undefeated season or prolonged the season to the point where the points scored are greater than the temperature.

This is more a case of the impact they have made. Outside of coach Danny Cunningham, his coaches and players, I haven't been cornered so often about a local subject.

There are so many people on the Hubs' bandwagon right now; the fares from the ride probably could pay for a new stadium at North High (which it should have).

The Hubs have done more for local morale than any single incident or event.

They are the talk of the town and many people this side of Cumberland and the MDVarsity.com Web site have been impressed.

That's doing something in this town and this county. There are endless streams of Mail Call tape with area residents griping and complaining about pit bulls, Section 8, county commissioners, the president, doggy do and any other subject that tends to turn a community into individuals.

At least for now, there's some unity.

For that reason alone, let's hope the Hubs play for at least three more weeks. It would be a great kickoff (professional pun) leading into the "peace and goodwill towards men" season.

A state title wouldn't look bad either.

n In a personal aside, I'm thankful for my wife JoAnn and stepdaughter Brianna (shameless plug).

After spending the first 20 years of my career floating around aimlessly, they have grounded me.

That's a good thing. Things might not always be perfect, but they make life a heck of a lot better for me than it was in the previous century.

n Let's be thankful for the comeback and salvation of the season by the Maryland football team.

After a horrid start, the Terrapins are on the verge of landing another top bowl bid.

Now that the absurd claim that they were still in the running for a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference title is over - Florida State took care of that in overtime on Saturday - the Terps can concentrate on a more realistic goal.

If Maryland can win its last two games - at North Carolina State on Saturday and at Wake Forest on Nov. 29 - it has a great shot at heading to the Gator Bowl as the ACC's second-place team. Representatives from four bowls, including the Gator, were at last week's win over Virginia.

The Terps are in contention despite falling short of expectations to dominate. Intangibles have probably made them the third-best team coach Ralph Friedgen has fielded in his three years at the school.

But Maryland has done a great job navigating through a weak year in the ACC.

Dispute that statement? Then when was the last time in recent history only one ACC team was in the top 25?

Another personal aside, I'm thankful for my good friends, at work and in leisure. I hope they know who they are. I work a weird schedule, so anyone who stands by me in the times when I do more disappearing acts than Houdini, has to be special.

I'm thankful with people who have vision. There are so few of them nowadays.

It's amazing how some people can see the possibilities of something and take the risk to try it without fearing failure.

After advocating the construction of a new baseball stadium for many years, I have found there are more pleasant things in life than banging my head against a stucco wall.

Let's just say I woolly bear-ed into a cocoon waiting for another day (which probably will never come).

Meanwhile, five hours away in Charleston, W.Va., a group of local businessmen bought the Alley Cats, a sister of the Hagerstown Suns in the South Atlantic League.

The group stepped in and bought the Alley Cats to help ensure the team will stay in town to utilize a new stadium, which is scheduled to open next season. The former owners threatened to move the team if a replacement for Watt Powell Park wasn't built.

A state committee provided a $12 million economic development grant to help build a $23 ballpark. Someone supported the notion that a new park could help stimulate - not cure - economic woes. It was a starting point to bring people back into downtown Charleston.

A spokesman for the new ownership said, "Baseball has been a part of our community for many years and the a new stadium and investment group will ensure that it remains an integral part of the city's landscape for many more years."

Gee, what a novel idea.

I know one thing. He wasn't the first to come up with that notion.




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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