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Suns pitch kindness with free baseball tickets

July 23, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Local police carrying free minor league baseball tickets for the public are now armed and generous.

The Hagerstown Suns have asked city, county and state police and the Hagerstown Fire Department to liberally give out tickets - for baseball games, not offenses - whenever they see good deeds.

The Suns' promotion is called "You've Been Ticketed."

Thanks to sponsorship by First Data Merchant Services, the Hagerstown Suns on Monday gave the four police and fire departments 2,000 Suns tickets, General Manager Kurt Landes said.

"We're hoping to reward good deeds and people who do good things that go unnoticed," Landes said Friday at a press conference at Hagerstown City Hall.

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Agency representatives gave examples of who might get tickets:

n A resident who asks to have a smoke detector checked, Hagerstown Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker said.

n A bystander who helps police catch a shoplifter, Lt. Randy Wilkinson of the Washington County Sheriff's Department said.

n A motorist who changes someone else's flat tire, Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class J.D. Crawford said.

"There's no end to how these tickets can be distributed," Landes said, noting the points officers might win with the public.

He said the idea germinated in his head for a few years. First Data liked it and gave the Suns carte blanche to give as many free "good deed" tickets as possible, said Diane Baker, a site and community coordinator for the company.

Landes expects the promotion to continue next season.

Acting Hagerstown Police Chief Charles Summers said his patrol officers all have tickets and are ready to give them away.

Hawbaker said fire marshals and shift commanders will have tickets first. Firefighters will then get them if the program works well.

The ticket giveaway fits the "policeman is your friend" philosophy of community policing, said Michael Parsons, a sociology and education professor at Hagerstown Community College.

He said the Hagerstown Suns' owners seem to be making a similar effort to fit in and be good neighbors.

The program has business benefits, too. Putting new spectators in empty seats might increase concession stand revenues and create allegiances to the team, Parsons said.

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