Sunday May 20, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- In less than three weeks, the Pittsfield Suns will make their debut in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

Jamie Keefe has been wearing his hats as field manager and general manager to prepare for the June 7 opener against Nashua.

On the field, the Suns have added infielder Chad Funk houser of Brevard College. Funkhouser, who hit .346 and drove in 22 runs, was the South Atlantic Conference's Rookie of the Year.

Off the field, the Suns are putting the finishing touches on their promotional plans. Team officials say it's part of their effort to encourage fans to come to Wahconah Park for a night of fun."

"That's what it's all about for us," said Keefe.

There will be a post-game fireworks display after the opener on June 7 -- one of six nights where there will be fireworks shows. The Suns are selling a six-pack of tickets for those games, calling it a "Pyro Pack."

The Goldklang Group owns the Suns and the organization's motto is "Be Your Own Fan." They have often cited their plans for fun at the park in addition to what Keefe hopes will be good baseball.

"We have for Opening Day a pony delivering the first pitch named ‘Sunflower,' from Berkshire Equestrian Cen ter," said Tyler Tumminia, part of the ownership group and a senior vice-president. "We had a pig deliver the first pitch with the [independent St. Paul] Saints. We're known for doing something crazy."

The Suns continue to seek host families for their players, who arrive in Pittsfield in early June.

"We are reaching out to all of Berkshire County, looking for host families," said Keefe. "We've had some support from the people that have housed players over the last three, four years."

Free tickets are included in housing players and the host families will get $300 as well.

"Our host families are a big part of the fabric of our ballparks," Tumminia said. "We can't do it without them."