Friday, March 14, 2003

Baseball team home in 2 cities

New name adorns distinctive caps: Florence Freedom

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Chris Sabo, manager of the Frontier League's new Florence Freedom baseball team, is flanked by placards of the team logo (left) and uniform Thursday at one of two press conferences announcing the team's name.
([name of photographer] photo)
| ZOOM |
FLORENCE - It's the Florence Freedom.

The patriotic name for the city's minor league baseball team, which will play its first season in Ohio, was unveiled at a news conference Thursday.

Though the Frontier League team will play in Hamilton this year, it will keep the Florence moniker.

The name was chosen from more than 500 entries in a contest that concluded several months ago.

Four people suggested Freedom, then Tara Meyer, of Lakeside Park, was chosen in a drawing of those who submitted the name.

"It was around the anniversary of Sept. 11, and with everything going on in our country, I thought it was important to have something patriotic," said Meyer, 23, a Hebron firefighter/EMT. "The name itself, Florence Freedom, just had a ring to it."

Meyer won tickets to opening day in Hamilton and tickets to the 2004 season when the team debuts in Florence.

Name: Florence Freedom
Logo: Letter "F" emerging from an American flag
Plays at: Foundation Field, Hamilton, Ohio
Opening Day: June 3, 2003
Manager: Chris Sabo, former Cincinnati Reds star
Tickets: (859) 380-9610
Cost: Single tickets cost $5, $6 and $8. Season ticket packages cost $225, $270 and $360.
Contact: Jeff Hollis (859) 380-9610
Florence Mayor Diane Whalen donned a Florence Freedom ball cap with the team's American flag logo, at the press conference at team sponsor Tom Gill Chevrolet.

"We've had a lot of beginnings with this team," Whalen said. "If good things happen to those who wait, Florence is in line for some good things.''

Chris Sabo, director of baseball operation and manager, urged Florence residents to make the drive to Hamilton to see the Freedom play.

"We are still your team," Sabo, former Cincinnati Reds third baseman said. "We just have to wait for some kind of stadium."

Hamilton agreed to renovate an existing ball field in its town for the team's first season after winter weather pushed completion of the $5.5 million ballpark in Florence beyond the team's opening day.

Construction on the 4,000-seat stadium is expected to resume in the coming months, said Gary Enzweiler, president of Northern Kentucky Professional Baseball.

The Freedom has signed 15 players so far, said Sabo. A second round of tryouts for the team, planned for this weekend, has been shifted from Blue Ash to Louisville.

Tryouts will be 10 a.m. Sunday at Champions Academy in Louisville.

The team is also looking for families near Hamilton willing to take in Florence Freedom ballplayers this summer, a Frontier League practice that helps the players save money.

Hamilton hopes to get its own Frontier League ball club.


Steve Kemme contributed to this story.

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