"Everybody was looking at me and screaming -- my foot was completely laid open," said Mr. Zamenski, who was 13 years old at the time. "I didn't feel the pain, but I could see the bones in my foot. When the [pileup started] I tried to hold onto the rails, but the force made us fall backward and onto our sides. It was nasty, like razor blades just ripping at you. First it ripped my tennis shoes and shredded my pants. I was in shock, walking over people who were cut up and screaming."
The Otis Elevator Co. escalator that killed Annette Costantini was not found to be defective; it was almost new and in good working order. But to keep pranksters from turning off the escalator while people were on it, the machine's emergency shut-off switch had been put on a wall across from the moving stairway. When the trouble began, a stadium usher had to climb over the falling and twisted bodies of children to reach it and stop the escalator.
The cause lay not with the escalator or with the kids, but in adult human error.
After the left field bleachers had filled up early with Safety Patrol students, Oriole management decided to open the upper deck to the children who were still arriving by game time.
Stadium employees routinely used a metal "people channeler" to control the flow of people to the escalators, located at the far end of the first- and third-base sides to move fans to the upper decks. At the start of games the channelers were placed at the bottom of the escalator to allow one person on at a time; after games they were bolted in at the top to allow one person to go down at a time.
Before the May 2 game a channeler was at the top of the escalator on the third-base side, apparently left there from a previous event, allowing kids to get on three and four at a time at the bottom but only get off one at a time at the top.
Children began falling back on one another, others kept getting on at the bottom and the escalator continued to move beneath them.
Charles Dahlgreen, then an eighth-grader at Elm Street Junior High School in Frederick, still has in the attic of his Atlanta home a 27-year-old baseball signed by every member of the 1964 Orioles that the club gave him during one of the many visits players made to children who were hospitalized.
"First [the steps] took off your shoes and then they cut into the back of my right heel," said Mr. Dahlgreen. "I still have indentations where the ribs of the escalator cut in."
Several lawsuits demanding millions of dollars in compensation were filed after the accident. The cases dragged on for years despite a Baltimore grand jury finding that no "wanton criminal negligence" was committed by the city, the Orioles or the Otis Elevator Co. The ballclub's insurance company settled the suits out of court.
Mr. Zamenski believes he was awarded about $20,000 for his injuries, adding that his father handled the money. Although he doesn't know what happened to it, Mr. Zamenski doesn't think the cash would have made much difference to a big husky kid who loved sports and found himself crippled at age 13.
"It changed my whole life," he said. "I lost three-quarters of an inch of my ankle bone. I think they wanted to amputate the leg, but they didn't. I swam every day for a year just to try and get my leg to move. I lost tendons underneath my toes. To bend my toes I have to use the muscles on top to bend them down, to make it move. I can't run, and if I'm on my feet for 10 or 12 hours a day, it starts hurting."
Dr. Britz also feels pain when she's been on her feet too long but said she learned some good things from the bad.
"I remember so many people who helped us: the firemen, the men who pulled the bodies off the other children, even the gestures by the Orioles when we were in the hospital were important," she said. "Your friends and teachers came, and you found out that your family pulls together more closely."
The family of the dead girl, young Annette Costantini, for whom a standing moment of silence was observed before the next day's game, moved from their home in the 2800 block of East Northern Parkway a few years after the accident.
No one at St. Dominic's remembers talking with or hearing from the family since that time, and the Costantinis' last formal contact with Holy Redeemer Cemetery, where eight classmates in school uniforms carried Annette's coffin for burial, is listed as October 1966.
"I think they got as far away from that stadium as they could," said John Hook, one of the oldest parishioners at the church.
D8 The escalators at Memorial Stadium are still in use.