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York County's baseball water tank earns national honor

York County's elevated water tank in Fort Mill, painted like a baseball, is a runner-up in a national contest for best painted tanks.

Those who painted it, however, quoting baseball lingo, say, "We was robbed."

"It should have been first," said Doug Shields of Fisher Tanks Co. of Leesville. Shields was the project manager for the $86,000 inside-and-outside tank renovations completed earlier this year.

Shields said it takes a special crew and the right rigging to hang from the spheroid-shaped tank and paint its underside. The 22-year-old tank rises 130 feet near the intersection of Gold Hill Road and Exit 88 off Interstate 77.

It took Shields' crew of five men about five weeks to paint the tank.

The Tnemec Company of Kansas City, Mo., selected the tank as one of four runners-up in a competition that draws more than 150 entries yearly. Tnemic manufactures the protective coatings used on most tanks.

A 1-million gallon tank in Hollywood, Fla., featuring a 19-color mural of giant sea turtles, was this year's winner. The tank stands on multiple legs, and it's the first legged design to win since Tnemec started the competition in 2006.

The difficulty in painting York County's tank and how the baseball stitches appear three-dimensional earned it runner-up honors, said Doug Hansen, Tnemec's director of water tank markets.

"The seams in the baseball are what struck us; they seem to stand out," Hansen said.

Shields said his crew shaded the seams to make them "pop."

The baseball tank is featured in Tnemec's 2012 calendar, which showcases many of the contest entries. The baseball tank is the feature photo for April, the start of the baseball season.

That suits Dan Rajkowski, general manager of the minor-league Charlotte Knights, just fine.

The water tank, visible from I-77, is a great tool for marketing Knights baseball and the community, he said.

"I didn't realize how much it stood out until the tank was repainted," Rajkowski said. The baseball team paid $3,200 to have the baseball seams painted on the tank. The remainder of the funding came from York County.

The 250,000 gallon tank serves Knights Stadium and nearby businesses and offices.