Power hitters fill party lineup

April 09, 1991|By Susan Baer

It could have been your basic Washington power lunch -- a smattering of Cabinet officials, members of Congress, Secret Service agents, Dan Quayle, Art Buchwald, cheese puffs.

But the Oriole Bird draping his arm -- uh, wing -- around Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney gave it that unmistakable Baltimore touch.

And so did the ballpark franks -- a big hit with the 500 guests of Orioles owner Eli Jacobs who talked baseball and politics yesterday at a pre-game bash in the executive offices of Memorial Stadium.

"Hopefully, this will be a nice, relaxing afternoon -- and quiet," said Secretary Cheney, who carried a briefcase and a Wall Street Journal just in case the game was less than riveting.

Vice President Quayle, who threw out the first ball of yesterday's game, said he was an Orioles fan, at least for the day. "He can go back to his Little League days," quipped Marilyn Quayle, vividly dressed in a pink and white polka-dotted dress, an admitted non-baseball fan.

Guests packed administrative offices that had been turned into party rooms for the occasion: London broil in Oriole President Larry Lucchino's office, smoked salmon in the general manager's office, a bar in the business office, champagne next to the copy machine.

And all through the hallway, Baltimore notables such as Mayor Kurt Schmoke, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Lt. Gov. Melvin "Mickey" Steinberg mixed it up with their Washington neighbors, including Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady and Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner, White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, media adviser and TV producer Roger Ailes, columnist Art Buchwald, Representative Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., and Senators David Boren, D-Okla., and Alan Simpson, R-Wyo.

Those at the stadium, however -- such as Senator Boren, who had a hot dog in one hand, a hamburger in the other -- were clearly reveling in their day away from the office.

"This is work, tough work, but someone's got to do it," said Mr. Sununu. The former New Hampshire governor admitted he was a Red Sox and Yankees fan: "I'm willing to on occasion, when I visit Eli, root for the Orioles," he said. But many guests were regulars to Memorial Stadium.

"This is my real job," said syndicated columnist and baseball enthusiast George Will. He, like many yesterday, was feeling sentimental about the last opening day on 33rd Street. "When I think of all the bad ballparks, it's a shame we can't give this one to Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or St. Louis. Those ballparks are all inferior to this one. I think Oriole fans appreciate that they're going from a Grade A ballpark to a Grade A-plus ballpark."

Senator Mikulski said she planned to give the stadium "a big hug today and say we love you."

Although there was much talk among the D.C. contingent about the nation's capital's chances for attracting a major league team, some said they'd remain loyal to the O's even with a team in their own back yard. "I'm an Orioles fan -- first, last and always," Mr. Will said.

His colleague Art Buchwald, however, was already thinking about names for a new Washington team. "Whatever it is," he said, on his way down the hallway to the hot dogs, "it should end with '-gate.' "

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