At Memorabilia Stadium, many fans turn ballgame into a shopping spree THE FAREWELL: GET 'EM WHILE THEY LAST

October 07, 1991|By Melody Simmons

Phil Curry plucked a handful of the evergreen shrubbery that decorates Memorial Stadium and held it over his head.

"Five dollars, a real bargain!" shouted Curry, 35, a sales manager from Easton, as hundreds of fans ignored him near the stadium's front gate just before yesterday's game.

From real estate to an elaborate $240 embroidered portrait of the stadium, memorabilia of 38 years of baseball on 33rd Street moved quickly, as eager collectors opened their wallets. Security guards were posted everywhere to protect souvenirs that were not for sale, such as the seats and the turf.

Souvenir programs sold at a brisk pace at stands inside and outside the ballpark. The $4 book featured a gold-embossed banner stating, "Last Game 1991" and a painting of the sun setting over the stadium. The team had 35,000 programs printed, and all were sold.

"These are real hot," said Bernie McKenzie, a vendor who arrived at 10:45 a.m. and aimed to sell 1,400 programs. "One man bought 40. They are a true collector's item -- I'm buying them myself."

Later, he said he sold 1,640.

Ron Twilley of Salisbury brought $300 to the game to spend on memorabilia. It was his second trip to the ballpark this week to buy souvenirs; the first outing set him back $75.

Twilley parked his car, walked through the parking lot and plopped down $10 for two stamped envelopes canceled with a commemorative postal design.

"I'll just hang on to them and put them on my wall in the hobby room at home," said Twilley. "Being an Orioles fan, I've got yearbooks from 1965 on up and some autographed baseballs. I'm just a collector at heart, I guess."

Raymond Moran, novelty manager for ARA Services, the stadium concessionaire responsible for all the "official" souvenirs, said that commemorative stamp cancellations from the 1979 World Series are worth $30 each.

He said that T-shirts and pennants reflecting the final weekend series at Memorial Stadium were hot items for memorabilia buffs. There were 4,800 "I was there" T-shirts printed and 10,000 commemorative pennants made in the limited-edition order. Moran declined to estimate his company's profits for the weekend.

"The enthusiasm for the memorabilia is beyond our wildest dreams," Moran said. "I can't explain it.

"They just love this ballpark, and they love what has happened here for the last 38 years. This is a world-championship stadium for both football and baseball. People have finally realized this is it. After today, no more baseball."

Other items available to collectors included an etched lead-crystal baseball paperweight ($182), an embroidered cap ($15), a mini-moving van with a depiction of Memorial Stadium on one side and Oriole Park at Camden Yards on the other ($15) and Memorial Stadium cocktail glasses ($32 per set of four). Those items still can be purchased by mail, Moran said.

The first edition of the 33rd Street Gazette was for sale for $2. About 60,000 copies of the new publication were available.

Painted baseballs encased in plastic, key chains and the Memorial Stadium history book, "House of Magic," also were on sale.

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