Letter to the Editor

April 11, 2008

Historic Suns open season tonight

To the editor:

As the days grow longer, and the weather gets warmer, we slowly end our hibernation and find ways to spend more time outside. Sometimes it occurs naturally and sometimes we make conscious choices to flee the indoors. In communities like ours across the country, winter sports that occupy gymnasiums throughout the winter draw to a close and are replaced by spring-time sports. This is one of those "natural" occurrences.

I noticed a subtle sign of the more "conscious" decisions to spend time outside on Saturday afternoon when I rode my motorcycle past a local fitness center and noticed a surprising lack of cars in the parking lot. People were taking advantage of the weather and getting out! And yet another not-so-subtle sign will smack me right in the face tonight when the Hagerstown Suns open their 28th season of professional baseball in Hagerstown at Municipal Stadium.


We often refer to Municipal Stadium as "historic." We often use that adjective as a euphemism. I assure you though, things are in fact historic at Municipal Stadium.

The Hagerstown Suns moved to Hagerstown in 1981 after the team left its home in Florence, S,C. Owner Lou Eliopulos had previously tried to move the team after the 1980 season to Wilson, N.C., but a deal was not reached.

With talks starting in February 1981, it was said that it would be "a miracle" if Hagerstown could land the team. It looked doubtful due to lighting problems at Municipal Stadium and the lack of interest shown by council members at meetings. However, after days of discussion, the City Council agreed to fix the lights at Municipal Stadium; this decision brought the team to Hagerstown.

Through 27 years, a lot has changed for professional baseball in Hagerstown. We've been in three different leagues and partnered with five Major League teams - Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets and our current team, the Washington Nationals. In fact, in 1981 the Suns were a co-op team made of players from six different Major League affiliates.

The two constants for baseball in Hagerstown have been the name "Hagerstown Suns" and our home field, Municipal Stadium.

For good or bad, this is an amazing trait for professional baseball in Hagerstown. Of the 160 Minor League Baseball teams in the United States and Canada, only eight teams have held their name and played in the same stadium longer than the Hagerstown Suns.

Moreover, only two teams play in stadiums older than Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium, built in 1930 - the Daytona Cubs play in Jackie Robinson Ballpark (1930), and the Portland Beavers play at PGE Park (1926) - but both have had extensive upgrades in recent years.

We do not ever think of what we do as "historic" or even "old-fashioned." We hope fans can see the same ole' baseball game, but be entertained every time the game action ceases.

And when you visit Municipal Stadium this year, be sure to notice the new infield that was installed this off-season. It was accomplished through a true partnership between the City of Hagerstown, Washington County, the Hagerstown/Washington County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Washington Nationals and the Hagerstown Suns.

It is believed that this is the first resurfacing at Municipal Stadium since the Suns began playing in Hagerstown in 1981. It is normal for teams to resurface their playing surface every five to seven years. This is a necessary and exciting upgrade for our community's facility.

It's a glorious time of year. Our season begins as the seasons change and people start to enjoy various outdoor community activities. The season takes us through the wonderful weather all summer long and eventually wraps up when another school year begins and people prepare for the long, cold winter months.

We're here. And we hope to be here as a major asset to the community, and quality of life, in the Tri-State region for years to come. The Suns begin playing 70 home games Friday, April 11. We'll see you at the yard.

Play ball - and go Suns!

Will Smith
General Manager
Hagerstown Suns

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