'It sounds like an old retirement home to me'

October 04, 1991|By Michael Ollove David Michael Ettlin, Deborah I. Greene, Sheridan Lyons, Joel McCord, John Rivera and Jeff Fletcher of The Sun's staff contributed to this article. FHB

After months of speculation, controversy and debate, after endless hours of radio callers expressing endless opinions, after all the terribly scientific television and newspaper polls precisely pinpointing public sentiment -- what, Virginia Wright of Arbutus, what do you think of the brand-new name of Baltimore's brand-new stadium?

"I want to know where we're going to put the cars. That's what we were talking about today. Just where are people supposed to park?"

Where are people supposed to park? But Mrs. Wright, the name. What do you make of this new name?

She shrugged and rushed to catch her bus.

Her reaction was not unique.

The new name of Baltimore's stadium didn't seem to strike any of those interviewed yesterday as particularly inspirational. In fact, if thetest of a successful compromise is that it pleases no one, then Gov. William Donald Schaefer and Orioles owner Eli Jacobs seem to have performed brilliantly.

"It doesn't do much for me," said Jerome Mcleod, a 31-year-old Baltimore warehouse worker after leaving the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

"Aaagghh, too long," chorused the guys at the bar at Pete's Place on Main Street in Annapolis.

"It sounds like an old retirement home to me," opined 23-year-old Stephanie Davis of Parkville from the courthouse plaza in Towson.

Contrarily, into this stream of "negativism," as the governor might put it, stepped Roy Beaumier, owner of Tige's Baseball Cards on Route 140 in Westminster. Mr. Beaumier pronounced himself mildly pleased with the choice of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. "It works for me," he said.

His opinion doesn't count, though. He's a Red Sox fan.

Of course, all along the unsolvable dilemma for Mr. Schaefer and Mr. Jacobs was that all observers had their own preference and that their compromise choice wasn't on anybody's list.

Some wanted "Orioles Park." Others backed "Camden Yards" or "Babe Ruth Stadium." Still others, particularly those in Waverly, never gave up on the idea of transplanting the name "Memorial Stadium" from the old ballyard.

All together though, they seemed to unite in mild disapproval yesterday, the way 99 percent of pizza eaters line up against anchovies.

"How they gonna get that on T-shirts?" a practical Daniel Hollywood said as he finished his drink back at Pete's Place. "Or on a hat?"

"I think it's too much," said Jay Farley, a construction worker sipping his Bud in the soon-to-be anachronistic Stadium Lounge on Greenmount Avenue. "I think Oriole Park sounds nice myself. I think Camden Yards sounds like a damn industrial yard," he said.

Mike Houvardas, owner of two downtown bakeries in Lexington Market, however, insisted that the word "Orioles" should have been banished from consideration altogether. "I don't like it because maybe they'll move from here," he said. "Then where would we be?"

Even if there was disagreement about the name to the bitter end, there was a consensus that the governor and the Orioles owner had not covered themselves in glory by stubbornly refusing to budge for so long. Some felt that in combining their personal choices, the two men had not reached a decision at all.

The new name, "was a cop out," declared Roger White while nursing a drink at Balls All-American Sports Bar on Pratt Street near the Inner Harbor.

"I thought it was like two kids fighting over something," said Mr. Farley. "My dog's bigger than your dog."

At long last, though, the long-drawn-out controversy over the naming of the stadium has drawn to an end, leaving behind the lingering image of a smartly dressed man striding down Charles Street yesterday and declaring himself wholly indifferent to the whole matter.

"I'm from out of town, from Pittsburgh, where we're going to have the world champion Pirates," he crowed.

Oh yeah? Well, listen up, Buster, we've got a brand new name for our stadium.

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