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Hagerstown Suns prepare to shine after mild winter

Only 12 inches of snow fell from Oct. through Feb.

Only 12 inches of snow fell from Oct. through Feb.

March 20, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Today is the first day of spring, a season that ushers in baseball and outdoor activities.

It follows a winter in which only 12 inches of snow fell from October to February in the Hagerstown area.

The winter's snowfall was mild compared with previous ones, according to www.i4weather.net, a Web site operated by local weather observer Greg Keefer. About 23.6 inches of snow fell in 2006-07, 14.4 inches fell in 2005-06 and 20.6 inches fell in 2004-05.

At Municipal Stadium, the home of the Hagerstown Suns, the Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals professional baseball team, things are just about ready for the 2008 season, Suns General Manager Will Smith said.

The team will play on a new infield at the April 11 home opener against the Lake County Captains.

"For the most part, it's about 98 percent done," Smith said. "They laid Kentucky bluegrass ... We're definitely getting there. There's no doubt we'll be ready in the next few weeks."

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Smith said ballclubs usually replace the surface of their fields every five to seven years, but this season marks the first time the infield at Municipal Stadium has been replaced since the early 1980s.

Washington County, the City of Hagerstown and the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau helped the Suns and the Nationals pay the $35,000 cost, he said. The project started in November and involved stripping, grading and resodding the surface.

Smith said the outfield also needs replaced. There wasn't enough money available, however, to pay the roughly $250,000 cost of that project, he said.

In the meantime, groundskeepers are compacting the outfield surface to smooth it out, Smith said.

Alan Reppert, an AccuWeather meteorologist, said the weather this spring is expected to be normal, with temperatures averaging about 60 degrees.

Staff writer Erin Julius contributed to this story.

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