A few non-baseball fans catch Mays

August 10, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

April and Elizabeth Dantzler took their mother, Annie Dantzler, to Monday's Hagerstown Suns game as a late birthday gift. There, Willie Mays spoke and threw out the first pitch.

The daughters tricked their mother, letting her think they were attending some type of post-work function.

"I didn't know I'd be here," Annie Dantzler, 60, said, pointing out that her attire was more fitting for dinner or a banquet than for a night at the ballpark.

Annie Dantzler said that she wasn't a big baseball fan but was a big fan of Willie Mays when she was a young woman.

Kirksten Mitchell said she doesn't like baseball but wanted to be on hand Monday to see Willie Mays.

Kirksten, 13, of Hagerstown, said she wanted to go because her grandfather often talked about how great Mays was and that he played in Hagerstown more than 50 years ago.


"He said how it was an exciting moment," Mitchell said of her grandfather's recollection of Mays' first Hagerstown appearance. "He said it was the first time he got to see a player from the Negro Leagues."

Mitchell said she was also glad to be at the game to see some of her friends from Zion Baptist Church belting out the pre-game national anthem.

Holly Gendreau, 27, of Hagerstown, said she was not much of a baseball fan. But she wanted her son Tyler, 7, to see Willie Mays Monday because it might be an inspiration for the youngster, who recently started playing T-ball.

"I wanted him to have a chance to see an all-time great," she said.

Although there were a few non-baseball fans, Municipal Stadium clearly was crawling with fanatics Monday for the visit of Willie Mays. Among them was Gary Rosenthal, 57, a New York native now living in Hagerstown, who said he had a chance to see Mays playing the game in its purest form, stickball, in the streets of the Bronx.

"He had three sewer power," Rosenthal joked.

Rosenthal said he has been a big fan ever since and regularly attended Giants games at the Polo Grounds to watch Mays in the prime of his career.

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