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Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida)

March 4, 2000, Saturday, ALL EDITIONS

Out to the ballgame;


Thousands of spectators enjoy watching the Reds . . .
and some guy named Griffey
BYLINE: Tom Spalding STAFF WRITER

SECTION: A SECTION, Pg. 1A

LENGTH: 593 words

The score after two innings on Friday for 8-year-old Scott Folz: three
rapidly devoured hot dogs, one missed day of school and zero yells from
spectators to sit down.

"One to nothing!" the Bradenton boy yelled from his grandfather's knees as
the Cincinnati Reds scored the first run of their spring training season.
"Yeaaaaaaa!"

It's true that the crowd of 3,439 came to Ed Smith Stadium to watch the
Reds-Twins game and Ken Griffey Jr.'s debut with the Reds, but Opening Day's
stories were in the stands:

* Salesman Chris Lee, 35, of Sarasota, who caught a white Reds T-shirt - yes,
a shirt - that had been catapulted into the stands as part of a promotion. But
just as quickly, he flipped the clothing into the lap of an appreciative man in
a wheelchair.

"In one motion, a double play combination," said his friend, Steve Ligon, 34,
also of Sarasota.

* Ryan Santoro, 7, and his brother, Philip, 10, vacationing from Cincinnati,
whose Sean Casey outfits and peppy outlook got them plucked from the crowd to be
honorary ballboys this week. Days of fetching equipment and receiving advice
from Reds' players Dante Bichette, Barry Larkin and Eddie Taubensee left an
impact.

"They'd rather come watch the Reds than go on the beach," said proud mother
Chris Santoro.

* Harold and Phyllis Perlman of Youngstown, Ohio, who searched for gifts for
13 grandchildren up North.

The couple helped deplete concessionaire Frank Pilarowksi's supply of key


rings, but he had plenty of other souvenirs to offer - $ 5 luggage tags, $ 6
Griffey balls, $ 15 stuffed dolls, $ 20 Griffey shirts and $ 20 baby shoes -
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Out to the ballgame; Thousands of spectators enjoy watching the Reds . . . and
some guy named Griffey Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida) March 4, 2000,
Saturday,

yes, baby shoes.

It didn't really matter to children as long as "it has 'Reds' on it," Phyllis
Perlman said.

Dan Woodring's souvenir was free but memorable. A Minnesota Twins player
smacked a foul ball that bounced off the press box behind home plate and into
the 26-year-old Cincinnatian's arms.

Of course, some people didn't need to take home paid merchandise. Most people
were content with a 24-ounce, $ 4.50 beer and a $ 2.75 bratwurst, hurrying from
their baby-blue seats to snap a picture of Griffey taking his turn at bat.
Ushers were quite accommodating.

Said Pat Calhoon, the city's sports facilities manager, "Everybody is here
for the fans."

The Santoros were especially pleased. The family of four was watching an
intrasquad game on Wednesday when a member of the Reds organization - seeing the
boys wearing replicas of Reds uniforms - invited them to be batboys, getting
equipment and helping out on the field.

"I've never been in the dugout before. I think it's very fun because you can
talk with the players," Ryan said.

"The umpire will give us signs with his fingers as to how many balls he
needs," said Philip.

Scott Folz, who was joined by his brother A.J., 15, father Gary and
grandfather Walter, took part in a long family tradition. Gary Folz said the
family has had front-row seats in section 107 since Ed Smith Stadium opened. The
Folzes have kept those seats even after their beloved Chicago White Sox departed
in 1997. They've become loyal Reds fans, mostly because of the Reds'
accessibility.

Gary Folz admitted that he let Scott play hooky from school in Manatee
County.

A.J., who had a legitimate day off from school, says he enjoys watching the
Reds play because he's frequently chatted and shook hands with Reds first
baseman Sean Casey.

"That's what is supposed to happen," A.J. said.

Staff writer Tom Spalding can be contacted at 957-5195 or


tom.spalding@herald-trib.com.

LOAD-DATE: March 5, 2000

LANGUAGE: ENGLISH

GRAPHIC: PHOTO 3(2C;

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. hits a foul ball in the first
inning of the season opener at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on Friday. Baseball
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Out to the ballgame; Thousands of spectators enjoy watching the Reds . . . and
some guy named Griffey Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Florida) March 4, 2000,
Saturday,

superstar Griffey, who just joined the Reds, is a big draw for sports fans.;

Patty Kelso of Tampa stands during the national anthem on Friday at Ed


Smith. She has been attending Reds spring training games for 25 years.;

Scott Folz, 8, of Bradenton watches the Cincinnati Reds game on Friday.;

STAFF PHOTOS/MIKE LANG

Copyright 2000 Sarasota Herald-Tribune Co.