Lady Di maybe, but missing queen is hardly royal oversight to umpires

May 16, 1991|By Ken Rosenthal | Ken Rosenthal,Evening Sun Staff

The four umpires were the only people directly involved in last night's game who didn't meet the queen. The oversight served as a metaphor for their profession, but fret not over their loss.

Tim Welke put it rather bluntly:

"We couldn't have cared less."

Indeed, none of the men in blue expressed outrage, even ieveryone from clubhouse managers to traveling secretaries passed through the receiving line. You half-expected Jim Traber to drop in from Japan.

"If it had been Princess Diana, I wouldn't have minded meetinher," said Welke, speaking for all those who wanted the Orioles to let their hair down and blare Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" between innings.

Alas, none of us saw the song come to life and Lon Chanedancing with the queen. It was a shame Lady Di was elsewhere. She'd have appreciated the "Who's That Girl?" sign in the rightfield bleachers.

It was meant for Jose Canseco.

Certainly not Prince Philip.

Anyway, back to the umpires. They couldn't tell you if the queeplanted her royal feet on a tobacco-juice stain in the Orioles' dugout. Or if President Bush could be heard whispering, "Read My Lips: Frank Must Go!"

No, the umps spent the pre-game in their private dressing roomThey were delighted to receive a friendly visit from commissioner Fay Vincent and his deputy, Steve Greenberg. Otherwise, they were decidedly blase.

"If we had requested to meet the queen, I'm sure it could havbeen arranged," crew chief Jim Evans said. "Believe me, if it had been important to us, we would have met her."

The snub occurred because the White House wanted to keethe dugout guest list to a minimum so that the game could begin on time. Considering all that transpired, it was a triumph the first pitch was thrown only 15 minutes late.

"We understood the logistical problems," Evans said.

Of course, it would have been nice if several phone calls weren't required for the umps to enter Memorial Stadium. But they appreciated the extra security too.

As Welke said. "We're friends with the Secret Service. Therespect our jobs. We respect theirs." Indeed, it isn't unusual for the umpires to spend time with the president and his bodyguards on those rare occasions they attend games.

Evans was part of the makeshift crew that worked the Texaopener after the umpires settled their labor dispute. The crew entertained the Bushes in their dressing room before the president threw out the first pitch.

Bush, in fact, wound up borrowing an umpire's jacket. "All threporters were saying, 'That's the president out there in a Texas Rangers' warmup,' " Evans recalled. "But it was Durwood Merrill's jacket. No. 33."

The First Lady, meanwhile, left behind a coat. "I can tell you whabrand of clothing she wears, but I'm not going to," said Evans, saving his exclusive for Kitty Kelley. "It was a fancy designer, though."

So that's why the umps weren't impressed: They're alreadWashington insiders. Why, Evans said the crew that works the World Series even gets to visit the White House along with the championship team.

But as we all know by now, meeting the president is one thingand meeting the queen is another. Asked to describe last night's experience, the Orioles' Sam Horn declared, "It was killer."

Not that anyone had much time to chat. "I wanted to ask thqueen if she had a satellite dish," Randy Milligan said. This should be investigated. Every time Her Majesty sees Milligan, he hits two homers.

Catcher Bob Melvin, meanwhile, couldn't stop talking about hiown performance -- even though he didn't play: "I dropped a Mr. President, a Your Majesty, a Mrs. Bush and a Your Royal Highness -- very coolly, I might add."

Then there was trainer Richie Bancells. He spoke at length (1seconds) when that chatty Prince Philip asked about his job. "Actually," Bancells joked, "we're meeting for some Scotches a little later."

As it turned out, the royal party watched only two innings oOakland's 6-3 victory. The queen declined to punch out an All-Star ballot. She probably was in bed by the time the three-hour, 27-minute epic ended.

For the umpires, it was a typical night -- a close call on potential homer by Milligan hit down the rightfield line, a series of complaints from the Orioles over alleged balks by A's pitchers Bob Welch and Dennis Eckersley.

Like most of us, they didn't get a chance to meet the queen. But instead of feeling left out, just look at it like Welke: "She didn't get the chance to meet us."

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