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Rain clouds Suns' opener

April 12, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown Suns didn't get a chance to break in their brand new $40,000 infield Friday at Municipal Stadium.

The home opener was rained out, disappointing hundreds of fans who ate hot dogs under whatever cover they could find as a torrential downpour hit the park. At times, the rain seemed to fall sideways, caused by high winds that sent vendors scrambling to keep their wares from blowing on to East Memorial Boulevard.

The weather was near perfect in Hagerstown for most of the day. It turned sour, however, just before the game with the Lake County Captains was to begin at 6:35 p.m.

Joey Burriss, 11, and Tyler Hess, 10, anxiously waited while ominous storm clouds appeared over the stadium.

"If it rains, we'll try to get a refund," Joey said.

Suns general manager Will Smith said fans don't get their tickets refunded in the event of a rainout. Instead, they are given a raincheck for a future game of their choice.

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"We have 69 more games this year," Smith said.

At about 6 p.m., a light rain began to fall, and the grounds crew laid a tarp over the infield. Ten minutes later, fans started running for the closest cover they could find.

Matt Staubs of Hagerstown huddled under the grandstand with his wife, Teri.

"Who ordered all this wet stuff?" he asked. "We heard it was going to rain, but we didn't expect this ... I guess it could be worse. It could be snow."

One woman who was running for cover fell on the pavement. As she picked herself off the ground, she looked angrily at her male companion, who was standing under the shelter of a concession stand roof, and said, "Why didn't you help me?"

At 6:35 p.m., the sun came out and the rain stopped. Huge puddles had formed in shallow right field and along the left-field line next to the beer garden.

Until the rain returned and the game was called at about 7:45 p.m., fans passed the time observing a Humvee that the National Guard had on display and having their pictures taken in front of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Nationwide Cup car.

Todd Bolton, a member of the board of directors for the Hagerstown Suns Fan Club, said before the game was canceled that a decision to do so wouldn't dampen the fans' spirits.

With about 220 members, Bolton said he anticipated the club would grow even larger this year.

"We're getting more people who like professional baseball," he said. "This is a very inexpensive outing for the family."

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