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Fans see Suns, at last

April 16, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - To diehard baseball fans, it doesn't matter when the first game of the season is played as long as there is a first game.

That seemed to be the attitude of the 1,481 people who turned out Thursday at Municipal Stadium for what was a belated first home game of the season for the Hagerstown Suns.

Monday's planned season opener was rained out, as were games Tuesday and Wednesday.

Finally, the Suns hit the field Thursday against the Charleston (W.Va.) Alley Cats.

"I'm sick and tired of all the rain, period," said Bea Dumont as she watched the game with her husband, Ron, in lounge chairs in the grandstands behind home plate. "It doesn't matter (if) it was baseball or not, I'm tired of the rain. But we have been looking forward to baseball."

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"It's about time," said Dan O'Connor of Hagerstown. "I was getting tired of opening up the paper and keep seeing rainout, rainout and rainout. It didn't matter to me that it rained.

"I was going to be here Monday, but it rained. Then I pushed it back to Tuesday and pushed it back to Wednesday. I felt like I was camping out. They opened the gate and I just walked in."

O'Connor was one of a number of Suns fans who watched the game from the beer garden area during Thirsty Thursday festivities.

"You come out here and you know what to expect every time," O'Connor said. "You are going to come here and be entertained, no matter what kind of game it is.

"We've been sitting through a month of spring training games. It takes a month to really get excited about the games."

The smaller crowd took off some of the edge for Hagerstown Suns staff.

"It's slightly anticlimactic," Suns general manager Kurt Landes said. "We still had a strong group of our regulars and some new faces show up for the first game. ... It was like planning a wedding and have it all go off without getting married and still going on the honeymoon."

Because of the bad weather, Landes changed the team's name to the Hagerstown Rain Drops until the team played an official game. At the bottom of the fifth inning - when a game is considered official by baseball rules - the team again became the Suns.

Brett Smith took it all in.

The 13-year-old who plays for Spicher's in the Maugansville Junior League sat in a box seat behind home plate, studying the game while eating sunflower seeds.

"It didn't matter it rained, I was going to be here anyway," he said. "I play and I like to watch the players. It doesn't matter if it's the Orioles playing or not. I just enjoy coming to a baseball game to sit back and enjoy a good soda."

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