Hagerstown Suns

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Hagerstown Suns
Founded in 1981
Hagerstown, Maryland
HagerstownSunsNew.jpg Suns.png
Team logo Cap insignia
Current Single-A (1981–1988) (1993–present)
Previous Double-A (1989[1]–1992)
Minor league affiliations
League South Atlantic League (1993–present)
Division Northern Division
Previous leagues
Major league affiliations
Current Washington Nationals (2007–present)

New York Mets (2005–2006)

Minor league titles
League titles 1981
Division titles 1981, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2005, 2013
Team data
Nickname Hagerstown Suns
Colors Red, white, blue
Ballpark Municipal Stadium
Hagerstown Baseball, LLC
Manager Patrick Anderson
General manager Chris Easom

The Hagerstown Suns are a Minor League Baseball team based in Hagerstown, Maryland, United States. The team, which plays in the South Atlantic League, is a Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

They play in Municipal Stadium, which was opened in 1930 and seats 4,600 fans. The team mascot is "Woolie", a giant Wooly Bear Caterpillar.[3]


Early Teams[edit]

Blue Ridge League / Middle Atlantic League, 1915–1931[edit]

Baseball has been a staple in Hagerstown for the better part of the past century.[4] In 1915, the class D Blue Ridge League was formed with its headquarters in Hagerstown. The owner of the Hagerstown Blues was Charles Boyer, who until 1916 was also the president of the Blue Ridge League. Hagerstown fielded a team for the next 16 seasons. Throughout this time, they won five pennants and donned four different names: the Blues, the Terriers, the Champs and the Hubs. In 1928, Raynor Lehr, leader of a successful vaudeville and acting troupe, purchased the Hagerstown franchise and assumed its $3,000 debt. In 1929, the team was again sold, this time to Baltimore businessman (and later major league baseball scout) Joe Cambria for $2,500. One of the innovations introduced by Cambria was night baseball, five years before major league baseball did the same. One month into the 1931 season, the Blue Ridge League disbanded. Cambria affiliated the club with the class C Middle Atlantic League, but later in the year moved the Hubs moved to Parkersburg, West Virginia. The Hagerstown players with the most major league experience during this era were Mike Mowrey (13 major league seasons), Frankie Pytlak (12 major league seasons), and Babe Phelps (11 major league seasons). Earle Mack, son of famous manager Connie Mack and later part owner of the Philadelphia Athletics, also played for Hagerstown.

Interstate League / Piedmont League, 1941–1955[edit]

Professional baseball returned to Hagerstown in 1941 when Owen Sterling moved his Sunbury Indians franchise to town and became a Detroit Tigers affiliate. The newly named Hagerstown Owls (Owen, Win, Luck and Sterling) joined the Class B Interstate League. Gene Raney purchased the team from Sterling in 1950, and the renamed Hagerstown Braves became an affiliate of the Boston Braves.

The team moved to the Piedmont League in 1953 and once again had a name and affiliation change. The new Washington Senators affiliate, the Hagerstown Packets, competed until the league disbanded after the 1955 season.

Carolina League[edit]

Hagerstown was without a professional team until 1981 when Lou Eliopulos purchased the Rocky Mount Pines Class A Carolina League franchise and moved them north to Hagerstown. The team was a co-op affiliate during 1981, with players supplied by several major league clubs to include the Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles. The newly named Hagerstown Suns proceeded to win the Carolina League championship in their inaugural season. In 1982, the Suns began a long-term affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles. The Suns still hold several Carolina League one game individual and team records.[5]

  • Doubles: Dan Norman, 4 (May 14, 1986) shared with five others
  • Triples: Johnny Tutt, 3 (July 29, 1982) shared with two others
  • Grand slams: Dave Falcone, 2 (June 9, 1986) shared with two others
  • Runs batted in: Dave Falcone, 11 (June 9, 1986)
  • Stolen bases: Johnny Tutt, 5 (August 14, 1982) shared with three others
  • Most assists by a shortstop: Randy Strajek, 12 (June 16, 1988) shared with two others
  • Most double plays, both teams, extra innings: 10 (August 15, 1986) 5 for Hagerstown and 5 for Kinston in 11 innings
  • Most team assists, one game (nine innings): 24 (June 16, 1988) shared with one other team

Eastern League[edit]

In 1989, Hagerstown moved up to the Double-A Eastern League, taking over the Williamsport Bills franchise and again affiliating with the Orioles. (The Carolina League franchise would relocate just down Interstate 70 as the Frederick Keys, maintaining the Orioles' Class A affiliation.) Hagerstown would not be able to maintain AA standing, though; after the Suns' and Keys' owners failed to claim an Eastern League expansion franchise for Bowie in 1993 (coinciding with the Florida Marlins' and Colorado Rockies' addition to the majors), they instead chose to move their existing franchise there as the Bowie BaySox.[6]

South Atlantic League[edit]

Hagerstown would not go without a team for long, though; Winston Blenckstone immediately relocated his Myrtle Beach Hurricanes franchise in the South Atlantic League to Hagerstown after the 1992 season and promptly renamed them the Suns.[7] The SAL Suns would be a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate until 2000, when a four-year partnership with the San Francisco Giants began under the new ownership of Andy Rayburn. Mandalay Entertainment Group purchased the team in 2002.

2005 and 2006 seasons: New York Mets farm team[edit]

Hagerstown once again changed affiliates in 2005, a two-year stint with the New York Mets. Minor league baseball teams are known for their promotions, and the Suns had one consistent with the cold weather that Hagerstown has early in the baseball season. The Suns unveiled their "Eskimo Day" promotion including giving every fan a free ice cube and granting free admission to fans indigenous to Alaska, Canada or any place where Eskimos are part of the culture. There was also a special contest for fans at the ballpark: guessing how long it would take a bucket of ice to melt.[8] On the field, the season began with seven game winning streak. On May 8, Hagerstown and Asheville combined for 35 runs in the Suns' 19–16 victory. Hagerstown broke a 16–16 tie with three runs in the 12th inning. The clubs set a South Atlantic League record with 20 extra-base hits, while the 41 hits—23 for Hagerstown—matched a league mark.[9] Also in May, Hagerstown committed seven errors in a game against Delmarva. In June, the Suns qualified for the playoffs in dramatic fashion. Pitcher Gaby Hernandez's 115-pitch no-hitter in a 1–0 win over the West Virginia Power on June 19 set up a one-game playoff between the Suns and Lexington Legends on June 25 for the first-half crown. Both teams completed the first half regular schedule with 42–28 records. In the one game playoff, the Suns defeated the Legends, 9–4, with Hernandez again taking the mound and the win.[10] The Suns slumped badly during the second half of the season, finishing last in the Northern Division. In September however, Hagerstown did manage to win the Northern Division by defeating the second half Northern Division champion Delmarva Shorebirds two games to one. The Suns were ultimately unsuccessful in their quest for the South Atlantic League championship, losing to the Kannapolis Intimidators three games to one.

Overall, the Suns had a losing season in 2006, with a 58–82 record. The Suns' prowess in promotions was recognized with the award of the The "Veeckie" Award from ESPN The Magazine for their "They even gave away the Kitchen Sink" kitchen sink giveaway promotion. The award, named after famous baseball promoter Bill Veeck, is given annually by the magazine to recognize the industry's top promotions each season. The Suns have received a "Veeckie" in three of the past five years. Previous winning promotions included the Guinness World Record for the Youngest Broadcaster ever (2002) and the Free Funeral Giveaway (2003), which was also selected as the Promotion of the Year by ESPN the Magazine and was named as one of the top five baseball promotions of all time by Sports Illustrated.[11] The most noteworthy event on the field was an 8–7 loss at Lakewood, a 22-inning marathon that took nearly a week and a half to complete. The game began on April 26, but was called in the 17th due to league rules that state an inning cannot be started after 12:30 a.m. It was finally completed on May 6, taking 7 hours and 47 minutes. The 22 innings bested the previous 21 inning South Atlantic League record.[12]

2007 and beyond: affiliation with the Nationals[edit]

In 2007 the Suns became a member of the Washington Nationals farm system, which continues to the present day. The Suns won few games as the talent-poor Nationals organization rapidly promoted Suns players with potential. Of four players selected for the South Atlantic league All-Star Game (Leonard Davis, Cory VanAllen, Mike Daniel and Chris Marrero), none actually played because they had been promoted to the Advanced-A Potomac Nationals by the time the actual game occurred.[13] In the promotions area, romance novelist Nora Roberts was honored with a Nora Roberts bobblehead on July 6.[14] Roberts is a resident of Washington County, Maryland, where Hagerstown is located and has been honored by the Suns several times.[15]

There were two significant milestones for the Suns organization in 2008. The first occurred on May 30, when the number 50 was retired in honor of in honor of South Atlantic League President Emeritus John Henry Moss. Along with the number-retiring ceremony, the Suns honored Moss with a bronze plaque placed in Municipal Stadium, highlighting his 50 years of service to the South Atlantic League.[16] 50 is only the third number retired by the Suns, the other two being 42 for Jackie Robinson and 24 for Willie Mays, who played his first minor league game in Hagerstown The second milestone occurred on November 13 when Hagerstown native and Suns Director of Business Operations Carol Gehr was selected as the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year. The Rawlings Award honors an outstanding woman executive from either Major League or Minor League Baseball. Gehr was with the club in many capacities over a 25 year career spanning six different ownership groups.[17]

A bright spot to an otherwise dismal season in 2009 was the performance of catcher Derek Norris. He led the South Atlantic League with a .413 on-base percentage and 90 walks while being named the SAL's Most Outstanding Major League Prospect. He also finished among the top five in the South Atlantic League in homers (23), extra-base hits (53), RBIs (84), runs (78) and slugging percentage (.513). He was selected as the designated hitter to the Class A Topps/MiLB All-Star Team, which includes both Advanced-A and A level leagues.[18]

On July 15, 2010, Hagerstown players Steve Souza and J.R. Higley were suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Each received 50-game suspensions after testing positive for Methylphenidate and Ritalinic Acid, performance-enhancing substances in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.[19] Souza was a 2010 South Atlantic League All-Star. On the field, Eury Perez's four stolen bases in seven innings against Delmarva on August 19 was nominated as one of the Class A games of the year for 2010.[20] Finally, a new ownership group with local ties, Hagerstown Baseball, LLC, purchased the Suns in September 2010 for a reported 6.7 million dollars from Mandalay Sports Entertainment.[21] Mandalay used proceeds of the sale to purchase the Oklahoma City Redhawks AAA franchise. The new ownership group is led by Florida businessman and general manager of Polo Trace Country Club Bruce Quinn. Tony Dahbura, corporate vice president of Hub Labels in Hagerstown, Dr. Mitesh Kothari of Hagerstown, and Quinn's sister, Sheri, complete the group. Following the announcement of the new ownership, the Nationals renewed their affiliation with the Suns through 2012.

Bryce Harper playing for the South Atlantic League Suns in 2011.

Two number one draft picks dominated the news for the Hagerstown Suns in 2011. Bryce Harper, the overall first pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball Rule 4 first year player draft, started the season with the Suns. Before he moved to the Double A Harrisburg Senators in mid-season, he played well enough to be selected for the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.[22] Later in the season, the 2009 overall first pick, Stephen Strasburg, pitched at Hagerstown on a rehabilitation assignment.[23]

2012 had a tragic beginning when Mitchell Akers, an 18-year-old high school senior who was working with the team, died on April 11. Sources within the league said he fell off the back of a John Deere Gator at Municipal Stadium and later died from his injuries.[24] On the field, 2012 proved to be a banner year for Suns third baseman Matt Skole. He led the South Atlantic League in home runs (27), bases on balls (94), on base percentage (.438) and slugging percentage (.574).[25] In addition, Skole was also elected as the Nationals Minor League Player of the Year and the South Atlantic League Player of the Year.[26] The Suns made the divisional playoffs; however, they were swept by the defending South Atlantic League champion Greensboro Grasshoppers two games to none.[27]

In 2013, Hagerstown led the South Atlantic League in the offensive categories of runs scored (692), runs batted in (608) and on base percentage (.341).[28] The Suns had several players named to the South Atlantic League Northern Division All-Star roster (Pedro Severino, Tony Renda, Brandon Miller, Dixon Anderson, Robert Benincasa and Pedro Encarnacion), as well as coach Franklin Bravo and manager Tripp Keister.[29] The Suns again qualified for the divisional playoffs as the first half Northern Division champions. Improving over 2012, the Suns won the Northern Division championship, defeating the West Virginia Power two games to one. In the league championship, the Suns fell to the Savannah Sand Gnats three games to one. Another highlight was the selection of Tony Renda as the initial recipient of the Bob Boone award, granted to the Washington Nationals' minor league player "who best demonstrates the professionalism, leadership, loyalty, passion, selflessness, durability, determination and work ethic required to play the game the Washington Nationals way."[30]

Hagerstown began the 2014 season with a record of 31 wins and 8 losses, which was the highest winning percentage in the minor leagues. However, the team then went 13–18, finishing with a first half season record of 44–26. The Greensboro Grasshoppers shared the 44–26 record. However, because Greensboro defeated Hagerstown in three out of four games during the first half season, Greensboro was awarded the South Atlantic League Northern Division first half title.


Discussions concerning the relocation of the Hagerstown Suns to Virginia have been circulating since 2012.[31] That year a letter from the Washington Nationals was sent to Suns majority owner Bruce Quinn stating that Hagerstown’s 80-year-old Municipal Stadium was no longer up to Major League Baseball standards. This prompted the owner to begin looking for other options. Initially, Quinn began discussions with the Winchester Economic Development Authority to relocate the team to Winchester, Virginia, to begin play in 2014. The negotiations failed in part because of the refusal of the community to provide public funding for a new stadium. Not coincidentally, Suns fan attendance at home games fell to its lowest point in Suns history to that point, despite the team qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in seven years.[32]

In October 2013, the Suns formally applied to Minor League Baseball to relocate to Fredericksburg, Virginia for the 2015 season.[33] The Suns and their partners, New Jersey-based Diamond Nation and a Fredericksburg-area automotive company,[34] agreed to purchase a 38-acre stadium site inside the Fredericksburg city limits.[35] The facility was initially planned to be ready for the start of the 2015 season[36] at a cost of $29 million.[37] Though groundbreaking was scheduled for March 2014,[36] the land purchase wasn't completed by then and the parties have twice received 90-day extensions to complete the deal.[38][39] In April 2014, Hagerstown and the Suns agreed to a two-season lease extension on Municipal Stadium for 2015 and 2016 which can be voided by mutual agreement.[37]

History of Municipal Stadium[edit]

[40] The Hagerstown Suns Municipal Stadium boasts the honor of being one of the three oldest Minor League baseball stadiums in the country.

From 1915–1929, Hagerstown's minor league teams played at Willow Lane Park, where Bester Elementary School is now located. When the city made the decision to build the school, the need for a new stadium was urgent. The Field and Athletic Association was created to find land and build a stadium. The organization struck a deal with the city, leasing a tract of land for 99 years at $1 per year. Municipal Stadium was quickly built on the land in a mere six weeks, just in time for the first home game on May 8, 1930. Since then, the stadium has undergone two major renovations.

The first took place in 1981, when Minor League baseball returned to Hagerstown after a 26-year absence from the city. About $546,000 was put into the stadium overhaul, which included the installation of a public address system, stadium lights, underground electricity, and new seats and bleachers.

In 1995, $500,000 worth of improvements to the stadium were made, such as the installation of new seats, and upgrading the VIP section to include cup holders. The Sunset Grille and bar area was also added at this time.

The playing surface was renovated following the 2010 season. In addition, seating improvements and the installation of a state-of-the-art video board enhanced fans' experiences in 2011.

Major League Players Who Played for the Suns[edit]

List of Hagerstown Suns individual records[edit]

All-time individual season records[edit]

All-time team career leaders[edit]


The Suns have an in-state rivalry with the Delmarva Shorebirds, an affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. This particular rivalry is also fueled by the regional rivalry between the two parent clubs.


Hagerstown Suns home games are broadcast online via streaming audio on the team's website. Away games are handled through the other team's media outlet.

Season-by-season record[edit]


Hagerstown Suns roster
Players Coaches/Other


  • 40 Dixon Anderson
  • 37 Andrew Cooper
  • 19 Cody Davis Injury icon 2.svg
  • -- Wirkin Estevez Injury icon 2.svg
  • 27 Lucas Giolito
  • 21 L. J. Hollins
  • 36 Jake Johansen
  • 44 Nick Pivetta
  • 47 Hector Silvestre
  • 13 John Simms
  • 40 Matthew Spann
  • 48 Wander Suero
  • 45 Justin Thomas
  • 12 Kylin Turnbull Injury icon 2.svg
  • 30 Austin Voth
  • 35 Jake Walsh


  • 20 Spencer Kieboom
  • 10 Craig Manuel


  •  6 Wilmer Difo
  • 14 David Masters
  • 17 Khayyan Norfork
  • 11 Drew Ward
  •  8 James Yezzo


  • 23 Isaac Ballou
  • 12 Rafael Bautista
  •  7 Estarlin Martinez
  • -- Narciso Mesa Injury icon 2.svg
  •  2 Wilman Rodriguez
  • 22 John Wooten


  • 15 Patrick Anderston


  • 43 Sam Narron (pitching)
  • 19 Luis Ordaz (hitting)

Injury icon 2.svg 7-day disabled list
* On Washington Nationals 40-man roster
∞ Reserve list
§ Suspended list
‡ Restricted list
# Rehab assignment
Roster updated April 3, 2014
More MiLB rosters
Washington Nationals minor league players

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "30 Teams in 30 Days 1989". 
  2. ^ "30 Teams in 30 Days 1988". Hagerstown Suns Fan Club. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "2013 Mascot Mania". 
  4. ^ "Team History". milb.com. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  5. ^ "2014 Carolina League Media Guide and Record Book". 
  6. ^ Morgan, Jon (24 June 1992). "Bowie, Wilmington to get teams in minors shuffle". The Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, Maryland. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Baker, Kent (16 September 1992). "Single-A team moves to Hagerstown; Blue Jays affiliate fills city's void". The Baltimore Sun. Baltimore, Maryland. Retrieved 4 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Justic, Eric (28 September 2005). "Flashback: April in the South Atlantic League". mlb.com. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  9. ^ Justic, Eric (29 September 2005). "Flashback: May in the South Atlantic League". mlb.com. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "South Atlantic League Notebook for June 22, 2005". 
  11. ^ "Suns cap season with ESPN 'Veeckie' award". milb.com. 19 September 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  12. ^ Storm, Stephanie (8 May 2006). "South Atlantic League Notebook for the week ending May 6". milb.com. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
  13. ^ "Davis joins Sally All-Stars". milb.com. 26 June 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "Hagerstown celebrates Nora Roberts". milb.com. 26 May 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "Suns release 2007 promotional schedule". milb.com. 2 April 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Suns to honor John Henry Moss". milb.com. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "Suns' Gehr is top Woman Executive of 2008". milb.com. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Topps, MiLB name Class A All-Stars". milb.com. 25 November 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "All-Star Souza banned for 50 games". milb.com. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "Cast your ballot for MiLB's Top Games". milb.com. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Hagerstown Suns baseball team reportedly sold to investor group". Cumberland Times-News. 18 September 2010. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  22. ^ Driver, David (21 June 2011). "Duvall leads way at Sally All-Star Game". milb.com. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  23. ^ Marshall, Ashley (23 August 2011). "Lamb outduels Strasburg for Hickory". milb.com. Retrieved 18 May 2014. 
  24. ^ Byler, Billy (14 April 2012). "Hagerstown Suns worker dies in accident". The Augusta Chronicle. Augusta, Georgia. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  25. ^ "South Atlantic League 2012 Batting Leaders". 
  26. ^ Wagner, James (7 September 2012). "Nationals minor leaguers of the year, Matt Skole and Nathan Karns, honored". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 19 May 2014. 
  27. ^ "South Atlantic League 2012 Playoffs". Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  28. ^ "South Atlantic League 2013 Team Batting". 
  29. ^ "It's Power vs. Contact for SAL All-Stars". 
  30. ^ "Nationals name OF Billy Burns & RHP Taylor Jordan Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year". 
  31. ^ Lovelace, C.J. (9 August 2012). "Looking doubtful Suns will move to Winchester". The Herald-Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland). Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
  32. ^ "South Atlantic League Attendance". MiLB.com. Minor League Baseball. 
  33. ^ Freehling, Bill (1 October 2013). "Hagerstown Suns apply to relocate to Fredericksburg". Business Insider. Fredericksburg.com. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  34. ^ Shok, Holly (6 November 2013). "Hagerstown City Council agrees to pay for upgrades to Municipal Stadium". The Herald-Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland). Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  35. ^ Freehling, Bill (21 October 2013). "Slavery museum gives up city land; stadium backers reach deal on Celebrate Virginia site". The News Desk. Fredericksburg.com. Retrieved 23 October 2013. 
  36. ^ a b Freehling, Bill (3 January 2014). "Stadium groundbreaking planned for spring". The News Desk. Fredericksburg.com. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  37. ^ a b Shok, Holly (23 April 2014). "Hagerstown Suns agree to city's terms on two-year lease extension". The Herald-Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland). Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  38. ^ Freehling, Bill (15 March 2014). "Baseball investors receive 90-day extension to buy land". Business Insider. Fredericksburg.com. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  39. ^ Lovelace, C.J. (12 July 2014). "Fredericksburg grants another 90-day extension to Suns". The Herald-Mail (Hagerstown, Maryland). Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  40. ^ "History of Municipal Stadium". 

External links[edit]