Oriole fans should be used to disappointment by now, but some of the team's most faithful fans were distressed this morning to find they had waited 20 hours for an obstructed view of the last game at Memorial Stadium.
Within minutes of the ticket windows' opening at 9 a.m. today, buyers who left the stadium were complaining about obstructed-view seats. Others said they had gotten good, but lonely seats -- as the better seats seemed to be available only in singles.
"I've been here since 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon," said a bitter Rebecca Herndon, 28, of Baltimore, who was holding four obstructed-view tickets. "I've come out in the cold, the rain and everything. To end up like this after waiting all night is terrible."
About 600 people waited all night for a chance to buy tickets to the Orioles' last three home games against the Detroit Tigers, on Oct. 4, 5 and 6. But it was the final game that was the real draw, and by 9:50 a.m., it was sold out, prompting an obscene chant from the crowd.
"We tried to stress to people they didn't have to come down here and wait all night," said Bob Miller, a spokesman for the Orioles, explaining there were 49 other places and tickets-by-telephone.
Those at the very head of the line fared best. Patrick White, 33, a newsstand dealer who grew up in Waverly, had arrived at 1 p.m. yesterday for what turned into an impromptu family reunion. White, who had no complaints about his four tickets, saw his siblings, parents, uncles,aunts and cousins in line.
And 21-year-old Matt Diehl, one of the first three in line, also was pleased. "We grew up at the stadium," the Timonium man said. "I gotta be there for the last game."
If you couldn't be there for the last game, being in line for the last game proved to be a good substitute. People drank beer, cooked eggs on camp stoves and listened to blaring radios through the night.
By the time Steve Zissimos, 41, arrived at 7:30 a.m., there were almost 2,000 people in line. But Zissimos wasn't deterred. A welder for Amtrak from Dallastown, Pa., Zissi-mos had had worked the night shift before heading straight to the stadium.
Strategies abounded. For example, some parents brought their children, because anyone who could hand money to a cashier was entitled to four tickets.
Mike Pfeiffer went the high-tech route.
Sleeping overnight at Memorial Stadium all but guaranteed Pfeiffer, 32, and his friends Tim Keffer and Ron Carter, both 25, tickets to the Orioles' last home stand of the year, on Oct. 4, 5 and 6.
But just in case, Pfeiffer brought a cellular phone.
Tickets also were available today through Ticketmaster phone charge, at Hecht's stores, and at the three Oriole stores.
There were 12,000 tickets for Friday's game, 15,000 for Saturday's game, and 7,000 for Sunday's game, Miller said. Season ticket plan holders got an opportunity at tickets before today's general sale.