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Tony Oliva to hold clinic in Vergas, Aug. 6

By John W. Dermody

The power of the Internet?

As technology has advanced, the impact of informational outlets has grown immensely. Sports fans no longer rely on one news medium.

Fans of the Vergas Loons amateur baseball team recently voted in huge numbers on a baseball-related web site and, as a consequence, a famous Minnesota Twins star player from the past will stage a two-hour clinic Wednesday, Aug. 6.

It will be held 6-8 p.m. with the public invited, according to Vergas Community Club President Melissa Bunkowske.

All amateur squads in Minnesota were contacted by the Minnesota State Baseball Association (MSBA) and urged to ask fans to vote to win an appearance by Tony Oliva, a former standout with the Twins on the field and later as a coach.

He will spend the first hour of the evening on the Loons' field instructing hitters, answering questions and making comments. At 7 p.m., Oliva will address the crowd, which is expected to be an overflow gathering.

There will be a nominal charge to attend, but it will include a "ballpark picnic supper," Bunkowske emphasized. Adult tickets will be $5 and the charge for children will be $3. Hot dogs, chips and beverages will be served.

The event is a fund-raiser for the Loons baseball team. In case of bad weather, the clinic will be held at the Vergas Community Center, Bunkowske added.

During the second half of the program, the Twins' public relations ambassador will be signing autographs. However, because a large attendance is anticipated, fans are asked to bring just one baseball, publication or other item to be signed, Bunkowske emphasized.

"There will also be drawings for prizes, too," the community club official added. Fans will have a ticket stub to hold onto when they purchase admission.

Is it known how many fans registered and voted on the MSBA web site to gain the victory and secure Oliva's visit?

No, but it must have been a high number, she said.

The organization's web address is

Keith Bunkowske, her father and manager of the Loons, said he didn't think the community had much of a chance when he heard that his activist daughter had begun a campaign asking fans to go to the web site and vote for Vergas to host the clinic.

A person who admits to not using a computer to any extent, he said, "I thought she was wasting her time."

The number of baseball fans who show up to see "Tony O" will probably underscore that Melissa hit a "home run" concerning the promotional effort.