The Berry Brothers are helping to build the new stadium at Camden Yards and yesterday they built a grand observation deck to toast the last Opening Day at Memorial Stadium.
Partners in a Montgomery County company, Kevin and Doug Berry arrived at a parking lot across 33rd Street from the stadium at 9:30 a.m. yesterday, parked a pair of vans side-by-side, and erected a 16-foot by 16-foot plywood deck -- complete with railing and staircase -- on top of the vans in less than an hour.
Few people had a better spot to watch the pre-game hoopla that accompanied 50,213 people streaming into the old brick ball yard than the Berrys. Their deck was a temporary home to a barbecue grill, coolers of beer and soda, and a 19-inch color television powered by a generator for members of their entourage who couldn't get tickets to the sold-out game.
"We'll be here again [with a deck] for the last game too, with a huge party starting about 3 p.m. with our families and a big barbecue," said Kevin Berry, 35.
On the ground below, one of spring's grand parades passed by: thousands of people on foot and in cars; fans with and without tickets; a noontime pilgrimage of partyers drinking beer, holding hands, buying pennants and wondering how the game would turn out.
Larry Benicewicz didn't have far to go to join them. A 44-year-old junior high school teacher playing hooky yesterday, Mr. Benicewicz lives in the 800 block of East 33rd Street, one block from the ballpark.
"As a member of the Church of Latter Day Hedonists, I consider this to be a high holy day," he said. "I'm not bothered by the normal things people do -- excessive noise, drinking and urinating in public. I find it entertaining to watch."
Fans scavenging for extra tickets to get them into the show were everywhere.
"If I don't get in by 2 p.m., I'm going home," said Mike Miktus, sitting on the lawn in front of Eastern High School reading a copy of "The Rest of the Story" by Paul Harvey. "I think I'll have better luck closer to game time," he said.
Down the road at the corner of 33rd Street and Abell Avenue, Howard Berger watched the multitudes pass by his shop window, nary a one of them a customer.
Mr. Berger hates Opening Day at the stadium.
The 64-year-old tailor has never enjoyed baseball's annual debut -- even the very first one in 1954 was rainy and miserable, he said -- buthis affection for the team really waned about three years ago when he lost the job of cleaning, repairing and storing hundreds of uniforms worn by the stadium ushers.
When the ushers' old wool ushers' jackets were given up for polyester sport coats, Mr. Berger lost a lucrative assignment. "It's a pain, it really is," said Mr. Berger, behind the counter yesterday at the Parisian Tailoring Co., established by Nathan Kabik, his wife's grandfather, in 1913. "I'm out of business for the whole day because there's no parking. I'm not even a baseball fan."
Other people going about their daily business in the midst of an open-air celebration of baseball were not so downbeat.
"Today delivery is going to be about an hour and 20 minutes late,but like every day, it's going to be at the houses," said Joe Davis, a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. "I've had a hard time because the traffic is so difficult but I like it, the people seem so happy."
For a couple of young people from Albany, N.Y., the traffic transformed a normal $5 cab ride from Penn Station on Charles Street to Ellerslie Avenue just west of the stadium into a $16.50 fare. And for Erica Frazier, a 20-year-old college student sitting on a 33rd Street curb near Greenmount Avenue, the traffic made for a long delay in a Mass Transit Administration bus ride to Highlandtown.
As Ms. Frazier sat and watched the fans walk by, it reminded her of something missing in her life.
"I've never been to a ballgame," she said. "I'm curious about what the big deal is."