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Suns bobble George Washington

July 02, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Showing up early for the Hagerstown Suns' Saturday night doubleheader, Larry Wilson of Hagerstown was one of the first to become the proud owner of a George Washington bobblehead.

"It's kind of a tradition to come here the weekend of July 4," Wilson said as he received his free gift at the gate.

The fans slowly trickled into Municipal Stadium, most apparently unaware that a previously rained-out game had been rescheduled to start at 6 p.m.

As they entered the gates, a bobblehead was handed out, and then another one. It was a slow start, but then suddenly, all 1,000 were gone.

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Shortly after buses pulled into the lot and unloaded more than 900 children from Camps Airy and Louise in Thurmont, Md., the formidable pile of bobbleheads had disappeared.

Ranging in ages from 7 to 17, the campers - all wearing camp T-shirts - seemed to be devoid of serious bobblehead collectors. Nonetheless, most were excited when they learned of their good fortune.

"We run summer camps for eight weeks for kids from Northern Virginia, Owings Mills, Baltimore," said Larry Cantor, one of the adults accompanying the youngsters to the games Saturday night.

Stephen Michaels of Smithsburg admitted he came early for the George Washington bobblehead, but said he wasn't a collector.

His companion, Steven Lease of Hagerstown, was a little more excited.

"This will go good with the other figurines I have," Lease said.

The grinning face of the nation's first president - and namesake of Washington County - bobbles happily above the period costume on the statuette.

The only clue of the baseball promotion is that George is sporting a Hagerstown Suns emblem on his jacket.

"We do these promotions about four or five times a year," said Mark Witmer, merchandise manager for the Suns. "We did high school coaches last year."

Participating in the Saturday giveaway with the Hagerstown Suns was the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Suns are the Class A South Atlantic League affiliate of the New York Mets. The Suns are owned by Los Angeles-based Mandalay Baseball Properties.

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