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Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Patriotism floods Dutchess Stadium

By Mike Ferraro
Poughkeepsie Journal

FISHKILL -- Tuesday's Hudson Valley Renegades home opener at Dutchess Stadium once again featured a patriotic theme.

The Renegades offered free admission to anyone with valid military identification, and pre-game ceremonies honored the United States Armed Forces. Sgt. Shannon Dyer sang ''Proud to be an American'' prior to the game, and was among a group of military personnel who threw out ceremonial first pitches.

Yellow ribbons were painted on the field in foul territory behind the first- and third-base lines, and the first 3,000 fans received American flags.

Last year's ceremonies honored the victims of the events of the previous Sept. 11. Team President and General Manager Steve Gliner said the theme for the night was appropriate.

''Since the war (in Iraq) and things that have gone on overseas, it's a nice opportunity for us to get everybody together and show appreciation for our armed forces and the people who served overseas,'' Gliner said.

Also present was county executive William Steinhaus, who honored the team for its 10th season and also threw out a ceremonial first pitch. Consuelo Hill performed the national anthem.

Fans such as Tom Rosenthal were also happy to return to the ballpark for another season.

Rosenthal, a Wappingers Falls resident, was one of the first fans to enter the ballpark when the gates opened shortly after 6 p.m. to support his hometown team.

''I'm a big (New York) Yankees fan,'' Rosenthal said. ''Being I live close by, I'm a Renegades fan, it's the local team. I'm anxious to see how they're going to do this year.''

Zolzer back at "home"

Last Friday, Rick Zolzer served as the New Jersey Nets public address announcer at Game Five of the NBA Finals. Four days later, Zolzer seemed as if he was exactly where he wanted to be.

Zolzer, the Renegades public address announcer who is also director of special events and the team's charitable fund, said the nerves of the first game of the season were not completely different from those he experienced on the national stage.

''This is home,'' Zolzer said. ''This is where I did it first."

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