Relief from the sweltering, August-like temperatures allowed Baltimore Orioles fans to enjoy baseball without sweat trickling down their faces last night at Memorial Stadium.
But with the news that Orioles owner Eli Jacobs was exploring the possibility of selling the team, concern and the chance -- though somewhat remote -- that the city might lose another professional sports team circulated throughout the ballpark, and caused a few sweaty palms, at least.
"We love the Orioles and we don't want to lose them," said Sylvan Richterr, 54, who has been a fan since his teens. "The city is governed by a number of things and one of them is by how many sports teams you have, and we would be without one if they left. Besides this is a great sports city."
It may be difficult for die-hard fans to conceive of the team under new ownership for the third time in five years, but many understand Jacobs' pursuit of a good business deal.
Fred Auffarth, an 85-year-old Baltimorean who has followed the Orioles all his life, said new ownership could possibly improve the team.
"It may be better off because [Jacobs] doesn't want to spend money on new players," said Auffarth, a former semipro player who's a member of the Maryland Oldtimers Hall of Fame. "No way they'll leave Baltimore. I used to watch Babe Ruth play for the Orioles, and there's much history here."
But business is business, said Baltimorean Mike Naused. "If [Jacobs] can sell the team for $50 million more than he bought it for, he'd be crazy not to at least see what he can get for it," he said.
"But with the new stadium, it's a perfect situation and the team's not going anywhere," said Ray Ring of Baltimore. "But still, people shouldn't forget about Bob Irsay."
Anita Harell of Rockville wasn't disheartened with the midnight move of the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis in 1984, but she's been through the loss of a major-league team before.
"I lost the Senators in '71, so I don't want to lose another team," she said. "But I just think the owner is cheap."
Gary Lausten of Towson has a direct message for Jacobs. "I would say that if his interest is anything except 100 percent in baseball, then he shouldn't be in baseball," Lausten said.
Dave Stewart, who drove to Memorial Stadium from Alexandria, Va., said he thought Jacobs, who in a published report complained about his lack of free time, "was a bigger fan.
"Maybe he's hearing stuff about the Orioles that the fans aren't hearing," Stewart said. "But the team shouldn't be in jeopardy -- even Washington wants a team here."
Elbert Johnson, attending the game with his son, Eugene, said that whoever is the owner should make a point of getting quality players.
"They go out and get leftovers," Johnson said. "I don't know what a new owner would do if they sell, but the team needs to get better ballplayers."
Joe Lease, a school teacher in Cumberland, agrees, but is more worried about "a new owner taking the team away.
"Any time you talk about selling, where Baltimore is concerned, you hesitate because of past experiences," she said.
And, although the probability is slim, what if Baltimore lost baseball?
"A town without it -- that would be kind of dull," said Dennis Young, of Baltimore. "You have to have major sports. As long as they keep them in Baltimore, I don't care who owns the team."