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Mays' visit will include stadium stop

July 28, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

The price to catch a glimpse of Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays in Hagerstown next month has plummeted.

The Hagerstown Suns announced Tuesday that Mays will stop at Municipal Stadium on Aug. 9 after a previously scheduled reception at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center Antietam Creek on Dual Highway.

Tickets to the "welcome reception" with Mays at the Clarion cost $50 apiece. Admission to a separate "Meet-n-greet" session before the reception costs either $750 or $1,000, which includes reception tickets and an autographed baseball.

Now, fans can see Mays at the ballpark for as little as $5, the admission cost for children, senior citizens and people in the military. General admission is $6 for everyone else. VIP seats cost $8.

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"It gives everyone a chance to see him in one setting or the other," said Kurt Landes, the Suns' general manager.

Before playing in 24 Major League all-star games and hitting 660 home runs, Mays played his first professional baseball game in Hagerstown in 1950. He was 19 years old and part of the visiting Trenton (N.J.) team in the New York Giants' farm system.

Mays since has said it was the worst place he ever faced as a ballplayer because of the racial epithets hurled at him.

Landes said the Aug. 9 stadium appearance is especially appropriate because it might bring closure to Mays' unpleasant experience here as a young player.

Mays is scheduled to leave the Clarion reception at 6:30 p.m. and go to the ballpark for pregame activities, including a ceremonial first pitch.

The Suns' game against the Asheville Tourists is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. Gates will open at 5 p.m.

After the game, the Suns will draw the names of 50 fans who will get a free ball autographed by Mays.

Landes said Tuesday that the team has sold just more than 300 tickets to the Clarion reception, leaving about 100 tickets available.

Seating capacity at Municipal Stadium is 4,500, but Landes said the stadium could fit at least 500 more people in standing areas.

Landes has declined to say what the team is paying Mays to come to Hagerstown, but the agency representing him lists his appearance fee as $30,001 to $50,000.

The City of Hagerstown, Fujicolor and Antietam Cable Television are "presenting sponsors." Mayor William M. Breichner has said the city is contributing $5,000.

When the Suns announced June 25 that Mays agreed to visit, the deal didn't include a stop at Municipal Stadium.

Landes said Tuesday that Mays' representatives hadn't rejected the stadium appearance but also hadn't agreed to it.

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