Are You Ready for Some Baseball

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Are You Ready for Some Baseball

Waldorf, MD - 2/9/2013

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By Marty Madden

From left to right, Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs General Manager Patrick Day
From left to right, Charles County Commissioner Ken Robinson and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs General Manager Patrick Day

Saturday, Feb. 9 was a beautiful day at the ballpark but much too windy and cold for a ballgame. Instead, over 20 Charles County residents gathered inside the warmth of Regency Furniture Stadium’s restaurant to discuss local issues with Commissioner Ken Robinson [D-District 1]. Mostly, the discussion was about baseball. Robinson introduced the audience to Patrick Day, the new general manager of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. The minor league club plays in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB).

“It’s important we listen to all of the fans,” said Day, who promised the 2013 season would be especially memorable since the Blue Crabs would be hosting the ALPB All-Star game in July. “We hope it will really rejuvenate the market. We are going to do everything to showcase this ballpark.”

Day said the club is planning a huge celebration for July 9, the day before the all-star game, possibly booking performers. “We really want to make it a celebration,” said Day. “The game will be special, too.”

“The county is very proud of the Blue Crabs,” said Robinson. “This is one beautiful stadium.”

One of the attendees, former Charles County Commissioner Dale Speake, expressed hope that the club would set aside a special night to honor the memory of the late John Thomas Parran Jr., who represented the region in the Maryland General Assembly for over a dozen years. Parran, one of the founding members of the Tri-County Council of Southern Maryland, was passionate about baseball. For years, Parran was a southpaw pitcher for the Indian Head Indians, a recreation league team. He was also a collector of baseball memorabilia. Speake recalled that Parran was adamant that Charles County seek to attain a minor league baseball team.

During the mid-1980s, a Carolina League team had plans to locate in the county. That deal was scuttled when the county commissioners decided building a stadium for the team was not a prudent use of taxpayers’ money.

Speake, who was not a commissioner when that decision was made, promised Parran he would work to get the county a pro baseball team.

Nearly two decades after the Carolina League deal fell through, a plan to build a ballpark in Hughesville met strong opposition from residents of that town. The company proposing that venture, Opening Day Partners, subsequently found support from citizens and elected officials and a 4,200-seat stadium costing $25.6 million was built in south Waldorf. It opened in the spring of 2008. Sadly, Parran passed away suddenly in 2006 at the age of 79 and never got to see his dream brought to fruition.

Speake said a “Silver Slugger Tuesday” game should be dedicated to Parran, with some of his baseball memorabilia on display at the ballpark.

Robinson promised to spearhead the effort to honor Parran with a special tribute night.

Other attendees expressed frustration with the local media—specifically the county’s bi-weekly newspaper and terrestrial radio stations—for their lack of Blue Crabs coverage. Robinson suggested the citizens write letters. Day promised to do what he could to cultivate better media relations.

Other concerns expressed included the stadium’s over-modulated sound system, the lack of “freebies” tossed to children sitting in the back seats during games and the need for outreach by the club to some of Charles County’s senior centers.

“Minor league baseball covers everybody,” said Day. “We have to be touching every segment of the Tri-County area.

Another citizen suggested Charles County officials consider using Regency Furniture Stadium as a venue for high school graduations. Currently, five of the county’s six graduations are held at Show Place Arena in Prince George’s County. Robinson noted that the Charles County Board of Education was “autonomous” and that decision would rest with them. The commissioner also mentioned planned outdoor graduations become problematic if there are “weather issues.” He also noted that the arena is quite adept in facilitating graduations for numerous surrounding jurisdictions.

In addition to the Blue Crabs, Regency Furniture Stadium has been used as a concert venue for such big name acts as REO Speedwagon and Trace Adkins. While attendees indicated they would like to see more shows, Robinson reminded them, “the main purpose of the stadium is baseball.”

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs will open Season 2013—their sixth—April 18 on the road against the Somerset Patriots. One week later, on April 24, the Blue Crabs host the York Revolution in their home opener. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com



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