Some enthusiastic Hagerstown Suns fans got together at Municipal Stadium Wednesday evening to help city officials film the first of two videotaped spots that will be featured in the upcoming State of the City address next month.
Despite an unexpected passing drizzle, more than 100 people joined Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II and several other elected officials for the taping, city spokeswoman Erin Wolfe said.
“It was fun getting everyone together,” said Wolfe, who held cue cards for the mayor and crowd as they stood near the right field line in the outfield. “(The turnout) was a little unexpected with the weather.”
Bruchey said the theme of this year’s State of the City presentation revolves around unity — not just with the hopes of keeping the Suns in Hagerstown, but in the community as a whole.
“In order to do that, we need to be able to show people that there is unity, and with numbers we can accomplish things,” the mayor said. “I believe this is a perfect way to start it up.”
People filed into the stadium slowly, and without a way for people to respond that they were attending the impromptu event, Wolfe said they had little way of knowing how many to expect, especially with the abruptly overcast skies.
“I think it’s a great omen,” Bruchey said of the turnout. “In every life, a little rain must fall. This is ours. We’ll make the best of it either way. This is nothing.
“Lou Scally said it wasn’t going to rain, so I think it’s going to stop any second,” he joked.
Fortunately, the light rain dissipated as the fans collected around Bruchey on the field.
Wolfe said the event came together quickly, spreading mostly through word of mouth, online support and the Suns Fan Club.
Zach Spedden, 19, of Hagerstown, who sits on the board of directors and runs a blog for the fan club, said he was pleased with the number of people who turned out.
“Not only the amount, but the enthusiasm of the people here that came out on short notice,” Spedden said. “It’s great to see, and it shows that there are people here in Hagerstown that care about the team.”
The event comes on the heels of a decision Tuesday by the Hagerstown City Council to approve a contribution of up to $20,000 toward a stadium study. The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved the same motion on Feb. 14.
The study will determine the economic impact of continuing to host a minor league baseball team in Hagerstown while Suns ownership is considering moving the team to Winchester, Va., due to long overdue renovations needed at Municipal Stadium.
The Winchester City Council last week heard more than a dozen complaints from residents about proposed plans to build a minor league stadium in Jim Barnett Park. Only one person came forward with praise of the plan during that meeting.
Winchester officials held another hearing Tuesday night, with most of the citizen speakers opposed to the plan to give land in the park to the Winchester Economic Development Authority for the multipurpose stadium, according to the Associated Press. Stadium beer sales near activities in the park involving children was one complaint, the AP reported.
The owners of the Suns signed a letter of intent last month to move the club to Winchester, provided certain conditions are met by April 17.
With Municipal Stadium in disrepair, Spedden said it was just a matter of time until another city tried to lure the Suns away. He said Winchester’s interest shows how much a commodity like minor league baseball is wanted in other communities.
“That being said, I still have faith that Hagerstown can get something done,” he said.
The second taping will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Maryland Theatre. The State of the City is scheduled for March 6 at 7:15 a.m. at the Academy Theatre.