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My Time In The Sun
Greetings from The Booth!
With all quiet on the Shenandoah University sports scene and a bit of a down time for me in sports, I thought I’d take you down memory lane for one of the really great times in my life, my time with the Hagerstown (Md.) Suns, a Class-A minor league baseball team that came to the “Hub City” in the Spring/Summer of 1981. That year, the Suns would win the Carolina League championship, despite having no affiliation with one major league team.
At the time, I was working as the midday DJ and music director at WYII, a now-defunct country radio station in Williamsport, Md., a small town along the Potomac River in the shadow of Hagerstown. At age 22, and basically unencumbered by responsibility, save for a car payment, Summers were great. I did my radio show and performed a few other duties at the station during the day, and spent late afternoons hanging out by various hotel pools, and finding the watering holes that offered promotions like free taco bars. Life was good.
Life got even better when I was asked to “cover” the newly-arrived Suns. “Covering” the team consisted of hanging out in the press box of dilapidated Municipal Stadium every night during homestands, watching the games, calling in occasional updates back to the station, and eating ballpark food, courtesy of the Suns. As a lover of baseball, there was really no downside to that gig.
Occasionally I got to travel with the team to locations all over the Carolina League, where I got to hang around Suns’ manager Grady Little. Grady, who would go on to fame and fortune as a major league manager (.552 winning percentage), embellished us with story after story about life in the minor leagues. I was a sponge, soaking up as much baseball vibe as I could.
I also got to see players who would eventually make “the show.” One that stands out was Darryl Strawberry of the Lynchburg Mets. All you had to do was apply the “eye test” to see that Strawberry would go on to bigger and better things beyond the minors. He was a man among boys at the Class-A level, and a pleasure to watch.
The Suns would go through many transformations and affiliations through the years, even becoming a Nationals’ affiliate (Bryce Harper was a Sun). With the cancelation of the 2020 season due to COVID and the announcement that the Nats would not renew their affiliation with the Suns, the team ceased to exist.
I would leave Hagerstown in 1983 to start a new radio life in Winchester, but I will never forget those few Summers that I got to live the dream and hang around a professional baseball team. It was truly “my time in the Sun.”
Until the next visit from The Booth, stay cool…and GO HORNETS!