Pittsfield Suns shine through rain in opener



Opening night can be both thrilling and nerve-racking.

It doesn't matter if it's a Broadway show or a baseball game; even interns get antsy on an opening night.

"We've put in a lot of work and to see it all come together is really nice," said Pittsfield Suns intern Justin Perez from Miami. "It is a little bit nerve-racking, but we knew it was going to come together."

As the Suns opened their second Futures League baseball season at Wahconah Park on Thursday evening, most everything came together properly for the 2013 opener -- except the weather.

A smaller-than-anticipated crowd was in Wahconah Park as pitcher Christian Lavoie tossed the game's first pitch. A massive blob of green on weather radar screens and the fact that the tarp covered the field until 30 minutes before the game put a definite damper -- literally and figuratively -- on the proceedings. The game was eventually suspended after the seventh inning due to rain.

"It's a pleasure to have these young fellows here. The old expression is ‘Watch them on the way up,' " said Phil Massery, of Pittsfield. "This is great for these guys. They're thrilled to be here and I think we're even more thrilled to have them here."

Lynsey Bell, of Pittsfield, is one of the Suns' cadre of interns.

They, like the players, were feeling some nerves. Their lack of sleep before the opener wasn't from having preseason butterflies.

"We got some sleep," she said. "We were definitely here late, but we got some rest and we're ready to go."

Fans started entering the park when the gates opened at 5 p.m. They arrived to the sound of a band situated by the Suns clubhouse playing country and rock tunes. The only thing that seemed to really put a damper on the carnival-like festivities was the massive gray cloud that hovered over the old park on Wahconah Street.

Tony Stracuzzi, Pittsfield's superintendant of parks and grounds, was taking that in stride.

"We call Wahconah Park our home. We like this park and we do what we have to do. But there's a lot of work to get this park ready," he said. "Opening night, we get nervous. After the first pitch, that's it. We're basically OK."

Many of the fans that come to Suns games come to enjoy the game, have a beer or a hot dog. Some are as nervous as anyone.

Cathleen Kinne of Great Barrington is the mother of Suns infielder John Kinne, and she was all smiles coming into the ballpark.

"It's an amazing opportunity for him to be playing at home," she said of her son, a Columbia University baseball player and the opening-night starting shortstop for the Suns. "He's thrilled and we're thrilled."

Kinne said she thinks her son was a bit nervous for his first game in Berkshire County in two seasons. Mom and Dad, father Kevin Kinne, were also feeling the butterflies.

"We're nervous for him, but we're excited for him," Cathleen Kinne said.

Jeff Goldklang doesn't have those worries. His are different. Goldklang is president of the Goldklang Group, owners of the Suns franchise. He smiled when he was asked about butterflies.

"Opening day is the greatest day of the year. You can't control Mother Nature," he said.

The weather is only one of many aspects of baseball that gives Goldklang a nervous stomach.

"There are more butterflies as an owner. As a player, you can control the outcome," he said with a laugh. "As an owner, all you can do is get everything as prepared as you can and keep your fingers crossed."

To reach Howard Herman:
or (413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman


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