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Ehrlich ends day at stadium

August 28, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich plans to keep his day job.

He reminds himself of it every time he throws a ceremonial first pitch.

"I think that I'm a washed-up catcher," Ehrlich said Friday after throwing out the first pitch at Municipal Stadium before the Lake County Captains-Hagerstown Suns game.

Ehrlich's pitch was his final stop on Friday's whirlwind tour of Washington County. And it might have been the most enjoyable because of the symbolism of the event.

"I love baseball and going to minor league parks," Ehrlich said. "It's a perfect August night. It's Americana."

Ehrlich warmed up for five minutes to loosen his arm down the right-field line before making his trek to the mound. After being announced, Ehrlich threw a high fastball to Suns catcher Brent Swanson, bringing him out of his croutch. Suns General Manager Kurt Landes jokingly said, "It was clocked at 79 mph."

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Ehrlich took time to sign autographs in the stands - better than most washed-up catchers could expect - and greeted fans down the right-field line on his way to a seat in Municipal Stadium's party suites.

After his experience, Ehrlich liked what he saw of Municipal Stadium but admitted there was room for improvements.

"I was told that this will be the oldest minor league park in the country soon," he said. "We had some discussions today and we are looking to have a study about what we can do here."

Ehrlich said he saw the plan the city and county governments and local business leaders had prepared in a meeting last month. The plan for the area around Washington County Hospital, included a convention center, residental and retail projects along with a plan to refurbish Municipal Stadium.

"They are planning to use a new model here," Ehrlich said. "It's the trend that many areas are using when it comes to projects like this. It's exciting. It would take money. The models don't work in every area, so we'll wait and see what the report says."

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