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Meet the Suns ... step right up and greet the Suns

September 23, 2004|by ANDY MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

So let me get this straight.

The Hagerstown Suns - the San Francisco Giants' low Single-A farm team we all came to know and love the last four baseball seasons - are now the Augusta GreenJackets. And the Capital City Bombers - the New York Mets' recently successful low Single-A team - are now the Hagerstown Suns.

I understand this transaction is supposed to stir up more excitement about Hagerstown baseball.

As long as they keep serving dollar drafts on Thirsty Thursday at Municipal Stadium, most people should be all for it.

During the last Suns game I attended, on a Thirsty Thursday on my night off work, it was like, "Hey, who keeps hitting foul balls into our party?" If there was a game going on somewhere nearby, no one was paying much attention to the Scoreboard Cowboy.

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The Suns were awful this season, finishing 49-88 - the worst record among the 16 teams in the South Atlantic League. But attendance at Municipal Stadium reportedly was on the rise.

That hardly makes sense in the world of professional baseball economics. You have to figure that not many people really care about how successful - or in this case, unsuccessful - the local boys are.

Maybe that's because the Suns players aren't really "local." They're neither natives of this area nor representatives of the Baltimore Orioles, the nearest big-league club, so we can't really claim them as our own.

While, obviously, New York is significantly closer to us than San Francisco, in these days of the World Wide Web and cable and satellite television, the difference between following the Giants and the Mets is only a couple of flicks of the fingers.

With Barry Bonds hitting homers at a record clip and the Giants in the playoff hunt, there actually are probably more San Francisco fans in the area right now than those of the Mets. But this mainstream, bandwagon effect hardly trickles down to low Single-A.

The only Mets caps I ever seem to see in Hagerstown are worn by the wannabe Gs and hustlas out walking their pit bulls. The fashion statement there seems less about baseball and more about trying to establish a little hip-hop street cred, New York-style, I suppose.

That said, the Mets are coming to town and we need to embrace them. The Bombers, who will now be wearing Suns uniforms, were the South Atlantic League runners-up this season. Some quality Hagerstown baseball really would be nice for a change, and might go a long way to making the games as attractive as the stadium's promotions.

One of my favorite things about Hagerstown is that it has a minor league team. I love baseball and appreciate being able to see it played at a reasonably high level in a fun, festive atmosphere only a few blocks from home.

I honestly will miss the old Suns - or at least being able to joke around the office in our best "Beavis and Butthead" voices that "I need BP for my Munhall." But I will welcome the new team with open arms - as soon as I set down my dollar drafts.




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrewm@herald-mail.com

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