Orioles offer fans a chance to step onto field of dreams in uniform

September 29, 1991|By Rafael Alvarez

For $20, the Baltimore Orioles let fans wear an official jersey of a favorite player and have their pictures taken on the field yesterday. But to many of the 100 or so people who turned out for the charity fund-raiser, it was worth $20 just to walk out on the field at Memorial Stadium.

"It's pretty exciting," said Joe Roberts, a 30-year-old disc jockey, as he buttoned up the No. 22 double-knit jersey of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer.

Mr. Roberts, who said that he found himself going to more games than usual this year to get a last glimpse of major-league ball on 33rd Street, straddled the mound in the sunshine yesterday afternoon before 54,000 empty seats -- and a wedding party near the outfield bleachers.

"It's a good feeling to be on the mound," said Mr. Roberts, who was forced to wear a left-handed glove for his photo session -- both he and Mr. Palmer are noted right-handers -- because the Orioles didn't have any right-handed gloves lying around.

"I've never been on the field. You know, it's historic to stand on this mound. The legends of baseball stood here. I'm feeling the vibrations all through my body," he said.

The promotion by the Orioles and WBAL-AM radio offered fans the once-in-a-lifetime chance to put on their choice of old jerseys that had been worn by Cal Ripken Jr., Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer or Frank Robinson, and be photographed playing make-believe on the field.

About half the people who did turn out decided to put on the Ripken uniform.

John Schultz, 30, donned Earl Weaver's famous No. 4 and was photographed talking on the dugout phone as if he were calling the bull pen.

"Earl represents the Orioles as much as anybody -- a winning tradition," he said. "He's a legend in Baltimore. The Earl of Baltimore."

All money raised will benefit charities selected by the Orioles or the radio station, although club officials were disappointed that so few people took advantage of the offer.

Although they were short on right-handed gloves, team officials had plenty of film -- enough for as many as 1,000 fans they thought might be lured by the field-of-dreams opportunity.

"It was slow, but the people who have been here were great," said Trish Vaccaro, 21, one of several Orioles employees who helped out.

"I think the parents were more excited than the kids," she said. "We even had a 9-month-old baby in a Cal Ripken jersey sitting on second base. Most people just love standing on the field and soaking it up."

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