That's the ticket: Orioles, Suns, Keys in 1 day State pro teams plan baseball feast for '92

June 27, 1991|By Mark Hyman

The Baltimore Orioles, Hagerstown Suns, Frederick Keys, MARC Commuter Line, Maryland's Office of Sports Promotion, county officials and various other planners throughout the state have an offer for you, assuming you're the type who first opens the morning newspaper to the Orioles box scores.

They invite you to set aside 24 hours for a whirlwind tour of Maryland's ballparks that might be called, "Baseball till You Drop."

Plans are incomplete. But here are some things to think about. The tour is tentatively scheduled for the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend next year. It will take fans to all three ballparks in Maryland where pro baseball is played. The baseball-watching will start in Hagerstown with an 11 a.m. game, move to Frederick for a midafternoon game and then end in downtown Baltimore at the Orioles' ballpark at Camden Yards.

All in a day.

Fans will move from site to site by car and also may have the option of boarding charter buses or MARC trains that would operate along the 75-mile route. They'd probably be able to buy one super-duper ticket that would admit them to all three games, although that price hasn't been determined. For those who like their baseball in smaller doses, there will be diversions along the way -- art shows, flea markets and other activities.

But the emphasis will be on baseball. Barring rain or forfeits, you are guaranteed a minimum of 27 innings.

"Maryland is known for many things, for the Chesapeake Bay and recreational things in the western part of the state. But this gives us an opportunity to showcase baseball," said Keith Lupton, general manager of the Class A Keys.

"It's not necessarily a thing to make money," said Ken Nigro, Orioles director of special projects. "It's just a great thing for baseball."

Mike Marqua, director of the state's Office of Sports Promotion, said he expected the tour to attract fans from as nearby as Carroll County and from anyplace around the country where baseball fans live.

"We think we'll attract a lot of people from out of town," Marqua said. "It's a chance to show off what Maryland baseball is about."

Planning for the day has been going on for several months, but intensified after a meeting in early June. Many of the final details, including the date, are expected to be announced when the group meets again in mid-July, Marqua said.

So far, the emphasis has been on making sure that all three teams are at home on the date of the tour. The American League schedule has been set, and the Orioles are at home on the date under consideration. The schedules of the Keys, who play in the Carolina League, and the Class AA Suns of the Eastern League have not been determined, but Luptonsaid he does not anticipate problems.

"Right at the moment, we don't know if we will be home or on the road. But doing it this far in advance should be no big thing," he said.

None of the tour's planners would offer a guess on how many might sign up for the tour. But there are some limitations. Harry Grove Stadium, Frederick's state-of-the-art ballpark, has a seating capacity of 5,200. Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown has 6,000 seats. No problems at the new downtown ballpark, which is expected to seat about 47,000.

"I hope we have a full stadium, but if we don't promote it, nobody will come," Lupton said.

Marqua said: "I don't have a clue. . . . If we got 10,000, it would be more than Hagerstown or Frederick could handle. By the same token, you'd have a standing-room-only game that would take the roof off those cities."

And what if it rains?

Marqua said: "Sorry about that. With a special event like this, I don't know if you can have a rain date."

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