Friday June 8, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Baseball buffs Richard and Laurel Scialabba have watched games in stadiums around the country, but they have a special place in their hearts for the unusual park where the sun sets into the eyes of the fans and the batter.

Basking in the glare Thursday night, the Hinsdale couple expressed hope that the Pittsfield Suns -- the new summer collegiate-league team named for the park's west-facing peculiarity -- is here to stay.

"Pittsfield is the only city that would build a ballpark backwards," said Laurel Scialabba. "But we like it here. It's a nice feeling."

The husband and wife, both 65 and natives of Pittsfield, joined more than 2,200 other fans to watch the team's first game and cross their fingers that the city's fifth team in 10 years would be one they could count on.

Fans seemed ready to believe in the Goldklang Group, which has operated pro baseball teams for 23 years. The grandstand roared with approval when managing director Jeff Goldklang began the evening by saying, "Pittsfield, put your trust in us. We won't let you down."

Whatever the case, there are plenty of locals who are determined to root for whoever walks out of the dugout, as long as they've got the word "Pittsfield" emblazoned on their chests.

"Every year, every team, we come," said Marc Eramo, 39, of Lanesborough, sitting in the bleachers with his wife.

"Where else can I come for $5 on a great summer night and have this much fun?" said Rachael Eramo, 38. "You wish more people understood how much fun you can have. It's a hidden jewel in the Berkshires."

Tyler Way, 17, who was out with a few friends from Pittsfield High School, had been a fan of the previous team, the Colonials, and was ready to transfer his loyalty to the Suns.

"I really love baseball," Way said. "Any team here, I'm a fan of the team.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi addresses the crowd and players Thursday before the start of the Pittsfield Suns’ first game at Wahconah Park.
Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi addresses the crowd and players Thursday before the start of the Pittsfield Suns’ first game at Wahconah Park. (Caroline Bonnivier Snyder / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
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The inaugural Suns game wasn't all about entertainment for those in attendance. Two leaders of RSVP, a senior volunteer organization in Pittsfield, came to the park to watch the action and to inquire about having an evening there as a way to promote their organization.

"Already I feel like they're open to work with the community," said board member Jennifer Coppola.

For the younger set, the thrill of a live baseball game was augmented by the fact that it was a school night.

"I like staying up late," said Owen Kroboth, 8, of Pittsfield.

Mildred Persip, a well-known local baseball fan who's been going to games at Wahconah Park since the Pittsfield Red Sox played there in 1965, wished the new team well from her front-row seat along home plate.

"I'm 98, so I hope they stay here as long as I do," she said.

To reach Amanda Korman:
akorman@berkshireeagle.com
(413) 496-6243
On Twitter: @mandface