Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Bundy draws crowd at Suns game

May 20, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Baltimore Orioles fans turned out at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown Sunday to see Delmarva Shorebird Dylan Bundy, an Orioles pitching prospect, throw against the Hagerstown Suns.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — With the Baltimore Orioles’ pitching prospect expected on the mound at Municipal Stadium on Sunday, the question was, would Orioles fans show up like Washington Nationals fans did when prospects Bryce Harper and rehabilitating starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg played home games with the Hagerstown Suns last year?

Orioles fans definitely showed up as there appeared to be more Orioles hats and shirts in the stands than Nats’ or even Suns’ gear.

Whether the crowd was bigger for Dylan Bundy or Harper depended on who was asked, as fans had differing opinions. Several fans interviewed said Sunday’s crowd appeared larger than a typical Sunday home game crowd and O’s pitching prospect Bundy was most likely the reason.

Dylan Bundy worked five innings for the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. He held the Hagerstown Suns scoreless and gave up just one hit, earning his first professional victory.

Bundy continued his perfect 0.00 ERA after eight games. It was his second game against the Suns.

The Shorebirds ultimately won by a score of 3-1.

“I came out for Harper, absolutely. I got his picture on my phone,” said Hagerstown resident Tim Barney, 30.

Barney said he attends two to three Suns games a year, coming out for occasions like Sunday, when a prospect is playing, or when he gets tickets.

On Sunday, like several other fans, Barney said he went to the game specifically to see Bundy.

Like many other fans, he also left when Bundy was done pitching.

Barney and some other fans said they expected a bigger turnout for Bundy.

Wearing a Washington Nationals ballcap, Frank Knapp said he’s a fan of the Nats and the Orioles, attending 10 to 15 Suns games a year.

He saw Harper and Strasburg play at Municipal Stadium and went to Sunday’s game to see Bundy pitch, said Knapp, 64, who lives north of Hagerstown.

While Knapp thought Sunday’s turnout was good, he said attendance at Harper’s and Strasburg’s games was bigger.

“There were people from D.C. all over the place for that,” he said.

“I’m not sure Baltimore has embraced Dylan Bundy the way Strasburg was embraced,” Knapp said.

Strasburg and Harper were No. 1 overall draft picks. Strasburg was considered a can’t-miss prospect while Harper, also a hot prospect, was drafted by the Nationals when he was 17, and was 19 when he was called up to the big leagues last month.

Strasburg and Harper played a home game Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park as the Nationals beat the Orioles.

Suns season-ticket holder Rick Toms said Sunday’s turnout was pretty good for a Sunday, more than the average Sunday, but not as big a crowd as when Harper or Strasburg played last year.

Nor was there the media attention that Strasburg commanded, Toms said.

Mike Fleagle, 35, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said he saw Harper and Strasburg play in Hagerstown last year.

“That why I am came today. I knew (Bundy) was going to be here, so I wanted to take a look at him,” Fleagle said.

Fleagle said he likes seeing big prospects come through Hagerstown.

Fleagle said Sunday was busier than he thought it would be, with lots of Orioles fans in attendance.

Still, he said Harper and Strasburg drew bigger crowds.

“I haven’t been here since I was 10,” said Clear Spring resident Guy Shepherd, 38.

Bundy was the only reason he went to Sunday’s game, and he recruited 16 friends and family members to join him, Shepherd said.

“I came for Bundy, to be honest,” said O’s fan Kevin DeLauter, 35, of Hagerstown. DeLauter said he saw Harper play in a couple of games last year, but he was more interested in seeing Orioles prospects than Nationals prospects.

DeLauter, who tries to make it to Suns games when the Delmarva Shorebirds — a Single A Orioles affiliate — are in town, said the crowd appeared larger than the average crowd at a Suns-Shorebirds game.

DeLauter’s son, Blake, 4, was attending his first Suns game on Sunday.

DeLauter said he talked to his son about Bundy, who was the Orioles’ top draft pick and fourth pick overall in the 2011 draft.

Blake will know when Bundy makes it to the big leagues that he once saw him pitch at Hagerstown, DeLauter said.

“We come to a lot of games, but that was a big reason we came today,” Scott Caron said of Bundy pitching. Caron, who brought his son, Tyler, 6, to Sunday’s game, said he went to a few extra games last year to see Bryce Harper.

Caron said he and his son met Bundy before the game.

Describing the pitcher as “super nice,” Caron said Bundy signed several autographs before the game.

Don Yesacavage, 52, of Hagerstown, said attendance had been pretty good at the three-day series with nice weather and, “Basically, two local teams playing,” he said.

“I didn’t really get the sense a lot of people came out to see Harper last year,” Yesacavage said.

Yesacavage said he grew up in Baltimore as an Orioles fan, but supports the Suns and watches the Nationals more as he is hosting three Suns players.

Kerry Jackson, 48, of Greencastle, Pa., also hosts a Suns player and said he would have been at Sunday’s game whether or not Bundy was pitching.

His buddies, O’s fans who were not at the Suns game, were texting him to see how Bundy was doing, Jackson said.

Suns General Manager Bill Farley said it’s difficult to compare fan turnout for Bundy and Harper because Harper played every day and Bundy, as a starting pitcher, would only play once every five games.

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