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Hagerstown Suns fans fill stands for home opener Friday

Bryce Harper thrown out after broken-bat grounder in his first at bat

April 15, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Hagerstown Suns' Bryce Harper warms up before opening night at Municipal Stadium Friday.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Hagerstown Suns fans worked themselves into a frenzy when Bryce Harper stepped up to the plate for his first at bat during the Suns' home opener Friday evening at Municipal Stadium.

The initial roar of the crowd quickly died, however, as the No. 1 draft pick in the 2010 Major League Draft was thrown out at first base after he hit a broken-bat grounder to the Lakewood BlueClaws' shortstop.

The mood at the park before the game was electric. Some fans wore Harper jerseys, while others donned T-Shirts that said "Harperstown." About 50 Suns faithful lined up behind a fence along the first-base line for a chance to get Harper's autograph.

"I'm waiting for Bryce Harper to sign my hat," said Cameron Snyder, 10, of Chewsville. "I'm here for Bryce Harper's autograph."

Snyder and his Little League teammates, Adam and Andrew Mathias, who described Harper as "awesome" and "beasty," said they were disappointed when their hero ran by them and other fans after pregame warmups without acknowledging they were there.

One adult fan said: "He's not that good. He hasn't done anything yet."

Others defended Harper.

Eric Sampsell, 36, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said Harper was carrying a lot of weight on his young shoulders.

"I think this is a big day for him" Sampsell said. "He's under a lot of pressure. He's focused on the game. He's still a kid."

Inwood, W.Va., residents Tanner Partlow, 17, and Conner Williams, 16, said they wanted to get Harper's autograph, but they understood why he passed them by.

"He has a lot of pressure," Williams said. "It's his first real game."

Partlow said Harper was a class act. He said he watched Harper patiently sign autographs for fans during an event at Municipal Stadium on April 5.

"He spent a lot of time signing autographs," Partlow said. "I'd say he probably signed 100."

The final attendance numbers were 6,017 for Friday's home opener. Also in attendance was Davey Johnson, an adviser with the Washington Nationals and manager of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets.

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