Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 12, 2007

Historic

Orioles' 50th year triggers mammoth preparation

BLUEFIELD — Celebrating a 50th anniversary is worth some work. A lot of work. Next week that work will produce results when the Bluefield Orioles begin their season — their 50th consecutive year as a Baltimore minor league affiliate.

George McGonagle is energized about the historic occasion, as he enters his final season in charge at Bowen Field.

“There’s a lot of interest out there,” he said Tuesday afternoon between phone calls at the 85-year-old ballpark. “People have been calling it ‘a great idea.’ It’s all been super positive.”

That anniversary has made this “a very abnormal season,” he said.

Opening night is Tuesday at 7 p.m. when the Bristol White Sox visit. Another visitor will be the major league Baltimore bird mascot, who will autograph photos for the fans and perform on the field and in the stands along with his Bluefield counterpart.

A plaque memorializing the late Patsy Malamisura, a Bowen Field volunteer for decades, will be dedicated on opening night. “He’s just been missed by so many people,” McGonagle said. “He didn’t know a stranger.”

Federal, state and local office holders will be on hand to offer 50th anniversary tributes before the game on Saturday, June 23, McGonagle said.

Rep. Nick Joe Rahall II (D-W.Va.) will present a resolution. West Virginia state senators Don Caruth (R-Mercer), H. Truman Chafin (D-Mingo) and Jesse Guills (R-Greenbrier), and Virginia state senator Phillip Puckett (D-Russell) have confirmed their attendance as well.

Representatives from the Town of Bluefield, Va., the City of Bluefield, and members of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors and the Mercer County Commission will join in.

McGonagle, just off the phone with Gov. Joe Manchin’s office in Charleston, said, “We’re still working on the governor.” Virginia Governor Tim Kaine will be unable to attend.

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