It was autograph-seekers' heaven at BaseBall Gala

Sylvia Badger

April 09, 1991|By Sylvia Badger

SUNDAY EVENING'S BaseBall Gala was a great way to kick off a One of the first people I bumped into was our host for the evening, Chuck Thompson, Baltimore's dean of Orioles play-by-play announcers, and his delightful wife, Betty. They look fabulous as they have just returned from their annual jaunt to Florida. Chuck is delighted about returning to broadcasting the Orioles games part time. Seems they made him an offer he couldn't refuse!

The attire was black tie or baseball attire, and I couldn't help but notice businessman extraordinare James Rouse, who arrived in a bright plaid jacket and soon traded it for an Orioles warm-up jacket and hat. Mechanical contractor Del Ritchie, who was with his wife, Jeanne, arrived wearing his 1988 Orioles Dream Week uniform. He said Dream Week was a dream come true for him, and he'll never forget how his team won the championship that year.

All guests received new baseballs, and many spent the evening getting celebrity signatures. Elrod Hendricks, O's bullpen coach; Frank Robinson, O's manager; Brooks Robinson, Dick Hall, Mark Belanger,

Rex Barney, Tippy Martinez, Fred Valentine and Curt Motton were popular targets, as were the 1954 opening day pitchers Bob Turley and Virgil "Firehouse" Trucks. Turley and Trucks were the O's special guests for yesterday's Opening Day festivities, where they joined Vice President Dan Quayle to throw out the first ball. By the way, the O's won the 1954 opener 3-1 and another vice president (Richard Nixon) threw out the first ball.

O's pitchers at the gala were Dave Johnson, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson, who were good sports with autograph-seekers. Other guests I spotted were Bucky Bray, French Bray Printing; Scott Garceau, Channel 2 sports, and his daughter, Danielle; Wayne Chappell, Baltimore Convention Bureau; John Foster, Babe Ruth Foundation; Bob and Jay Brown, Orioles; Dino and Helen Luzzi, who own a travel agency; Bob and Pamela Wyatt, he's the project director for our new stadium; Melva and Thomas Myers, Mike and George England, BG&E; Ray Weinstein, Bill Schofield, president of Louis J. Smith; and Frank and Hedy Sliwka.

Sliwka, who chairs the Tops in Sports Banquet always held the second Friday of January, told me that the '92 banquet will honor baseball's greatest pitchers and '93 will honor baseball's greatest hitters. He's hoping to honor President George Bush for his baseball endeavors at one of those banquets.

Other hi-hos at the party were Roland Hemond, O's general manager, and Herb Belgrad, Stadium Authority, who were gala honorary chairs along with well-known talk show host Larry King, who was a no-show.

Mike Gibbons, director of the Babe Ruth Museum, told me that by the time Baltimore hosts the 1993 All Star Game, a second museum building will sit catty-cornered to the existing museum, which was Ruth's birthplace. If you'd like to help raise the much-needed $3.3 million, call Judith Morgan at 727-1539. Other gala highlights were the delicious

dinner the Hyatt prepared and a most unusual rendition of the National Anthem sung by the Hubcaps.

As I was waiting to get my car from valet parking, I overheard someone say they've always been antsy about valet parking since hearing what happened to O's great Jim Palmer several years ago. Supposedly, he had a very special car that he'd bought in Europe, valet parked and never saw it again.

that note, I went home and watched "Field of Dreams" and went to sleep with my fill of baseball stories.

It was autograph-seekers' heaven at BaseBall Gala

By Barbara Haddock--Evening Sun Staff Sox Virgil Trucks, left, and Oriole Bob Turley were Opening Day starting pitchers in 1954.

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