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Books, kids and the Suns are a winning combination

July 16, 2007|by CATHERINE SUDUE

HAGERSTOWN - "The Suns is my favorite team ever," said Adam Nepe as he held up an orange sports foam finger.

The 5-year-old Chambersburg, Pa., native has started his own collection of autographed signatures from players on the Hagerstown Suns minor league baseball team. On Sunday, Nepe had not only been at Municipal Stadium to watch the Suns take on the Lake County Captains, he also attended Suns Storytime.

The program gives children up to age 12 the opportunity to meet and hear classic American stories from the star players of the team.

According to Joel Pagliaro, Suns Storytime has been has been in full force for the past three years. As director of promotions and special events for the Suns, he believes the program is beneficial for children.

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"It's kind of an encouragement for kids to learn to read and also a nice thing for the fans to come out on the field and sit there," said Pagliaro. "They (children) kind of like it."

Each Sunday when the team has home games, there is a storytime session 30 minutes before the game begins. The children are brought to the field and seat themselves on the grass as a player reads to them.

"The guys on the field are just like them ... When you get to sit four inches away from the guy who's going to read you a book, the same book that your parents probably read you at home or you can check out at the library, it's kind of neat," said Pagliaro.

The Suns' Christopher Lugo was Sunday's storytime reader. As he approached the field suited up and ready to play ball, he greeted the children and picked up Mem Fox's "The Magic Hat."

"Oh, the magic hat, the magic hat," Lugo repeated as he turned the pages of the book, displaying the illustrations to the children.

A rookie player and a northern New Jersey native, Lugo explained that it was his third time reading a story to the children.

"It's been fun ... It's always good to give back to the kids and the community," said Lugo. "Baseball is more than just on the field. You can also take it to the community yourself."

Michelle Hensell Wolfe, who brought her 20-month-old son, Davien Wolfe, to the storytime for the second time used to attend a similar event when she was a child. She said storytime is a great way for her son to be on the field and to socialize.

"He enjoys ball and I think it's good interacting with other children," said Hensell Wolfe. "And since he enjoys ball, I think it'll be a good thing for him ... the environment here."

Cindy Nepe, who began bringing her two sons to the Hagerstown games after her son, Adam, began Little League, said she will be bringing them to baseball games more often.

"We've enjoyed it (baseball games) so much that we keep coming back," said Nepe.

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