Lloyd Waters: If you build it, will they come?

May 19, 2012|By LLOYD WATERS

One day, Ray Kinsella was walking in his cornfield in Iowa when he heard a voice whisper to him, “If you build it, he will come.” If you can remember back to 1989, that scene unfolded in the movie fantasy “Field of Dreams.”

Ray Kinsella would end up going in debt to build a baseball stadium in his cornfield.

As I walked down Summit Avenue, by the Dagmar Hotel on my way to The Herald-Mail building, I wanted to hear the same voice.

Mayor Bruchey apparently heard a voice. Commissioners Barr, McKinley and Callaham might have heard the same voice. But I’m not sure anyone else heard the voice.

If you remember, in the movie, just as the farmer was facing financial ruin, out of the cornfield came Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the famous Chicago White Sox players who was banned from baseball with seven other players.

Those players were members of the famous 1919 Chicago White Sox team that were banned from baseball for “fixing” the World Series championship against Cincinnati.

As a game, I, too, like baseball. I enjoy watching it, and I usually attend a game or two in Baltimore each year, and have traveled to the old Yankee Stadium and the new Yankee Stadium to see games.

When I was a kid, I loved to play baseball down on the diamond at the old Dargan School. In a pickup game, I would always wait on a high, outside fast pitch to hit the ball over Sam Ingram’s fence into his big yard.

To take a chance hitting it over the left-field fence would usually mean the ball would end up in Beattie Glenn’s yard or the front porch of her house, and she would keep it. 

As I arrived at The Herald-Mail building, I took a few minutes to view the proposed site of the new Hagerstown Suns stadium being touted by our local leaders.

Before visualizing the diamond, I saw a few properties that would have to be acquired before the first shovel of dirt was removed. A few owners and Realtors might obviously benefit from this proposal.

As the earth is moved and actual stadium construction started, I could see the many jobs that might be created and benefit our community. Construction jobs for heavy equipment operators, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, engineers, etc.

This work would surely benefit our community, at least in the short term, I thought.

Just maybe our community would embrace this new location, park in a new parking deck that would be part of this construction, and not be dissuaded from visiting this area because of traffic, crime or other reasons.

Another dream that just might result in a renaissance of downtown Hagerstown. Would it happen? Could it happen?

The Hagerstown City Council and Washington County Commissioners (at least a majority of them) are betting on a better future for Hagerstown.

They are also willing to commit “your” tax dollars ($800,000 a year for 20 years) in the hopes that something grand and good just might happen in that Herald-Mail parking lot.

Just maybe, large crowds of people will want to gravitate to this new facility and intriguing shops.

Terrance Mann, another character in the movie, probably represents the supporters of this new stadium when he reminisces:

“This field, this game; it’s part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again ... Oh, people will definitely come.”

Will the people really come to a new stadium in Hagerstown? They haven’t come in great numbers to the old stadium; I seriously doubt they will come downtown to the new stadium, either.

Shoeless Joe Jackson won’t be there this time around.

And if the people don’t come?

Well, maybe Bruchey, Barr, McKinley and Callaham should have listened to some other “voices.”

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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