Shorebirds open stadium by topping RedStixx, 4-2 Fans ignore rough edges, delight in game's return

April 18, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

SALISBURY -- After almost half a century, professional baseball returned to Maryland's Eastern Shore last night, and nobody seemed to mind that Arthur W. Perdue Stadium still lacks the finishing touches.

At least the Delmarva Shorebirds weren't bothered. They won their 12th game in their last 13, beating the Columbus RedStixx, 4-2. Delmarva starter Javier Vazquez and reliever Jason Cole limited Columbus (7-6) to five hits, including two homers by Russell Branyan, who has 11 in 13 games.

Third baseman Jose Fernandez led the Shorebirds' offense with a triple and single for two RBIs.

As for the stadium inconveniences, they were largely minor. Both the Shorebirds and visiting Columbus RedStixx had to dress in the home clubhouse. One concession stand was closed and makeshift tables served the purpose. The sky boxes had none of the amenities associated with prestige seats. Some areas weren't painted.

"We're 85 percent operational and light-years ahead of where we were when Bowie opened [in June 1994]," said Peter Kirk, majority partner of Maryland Baseball Limited Partnership, which owns the Shorebirds. "We have restrooms and a big parking lot."

"This is a fabulous facility, state of the art and way above South Atlantic League standards," said Delmarva manager Doug Sisson. "We're not used to anything this fancy. I told my players they probably wouldn't see a stadium like this again until they get to Triple-A.

"We can put up with some minor inconveniences for a couple of weeks to have a place like this to play for five months."

The pumped-up crowd of 5,787 arrived early on a chilly night and cheered loudly, reserving its biggest ovation for chicken magnate Frank Perdue -- who threw out the first ball -- and the team with the best record in pro baseball.

Perdue tried in vain to secure a franchise for Salisbury "for probably three years" before hooking up with Kirk, who needed additional financing for the Bowie project.

The result was a marriage that would locate Kirk's next stadium on the outskirts of Salisbury, on the major artery to the beach.

"It has finally come true after a lot of years of waiting," said Perdue. "It's great for the Shore and its people."

Columbus 000 000 101 -- 2 4 2

Delmarva 100 100 02x -- 4 6 0

Pub Date: 4/18/96

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