'Petrucci Agonistes,' a tangled tale of tickets

Dan Rodricks

March 20, 1992|By Dan Rodricks

OK! All right, already! I'll do it. I'll wade into Steve Petrucci's problem with Oriole tickets, even though I'm sick of stories about Oriole tickets, and even though Steve Petrucci has his Oriole tickets -- and for the seats he wanted, no less -- and even though it looks like that big shot, Larry Lucchino himself, took care of this mess. And I'm wading into this story knowing the whole time that Steve Petrucci himself contributed to his own problem by being a little slow on the uptake at the upstart. You got it?

I'm in. I've taken the bait.

Petrucci, I'm yours.

"I have been a season ticket holder since 1967 and this is my 25th year in the same location," Petrucci says.

What we have here, ladies and gentleman, is an intensely loyal Oriole fan, a guy who goes back to the days before The Magic, when Baltimore was a madhouse football town with world champion baseball teams. Back then, season tickets, such as the mini-plans that Petrucci purchased and annually renewed, were not hard to come by. Still, let's have a little respect. The man paid his dues, year after year.

And so Petrucci felt, as the last days of baseball in Memorial Stadium approached, that he deserved seats in the new ballpark as good as those he had had since 1967 -- lower reserved, section 38, row 26, up behind the visitor's dugout along the first-base line. A decent venue, as they say.

Last August, that's what Petrucci asked for -- two lower reserved seats.

Problem was, lower reserved seats in the new ballpark are in left field, anywhere from 333 to 364 feet from home plate.

That's not what Petrucci had in mind.

It seems that in his haste to mail an application for new seats in the new ballpark, Steverino failed to examine the new Oriole Park seating diagram he had been provided. He discovered his mistake in September.

So he wrote another letter, asking that his request for lower reserved seats be up graded to terrace box seats along the third base line, more comparable to the ones he had had in Memorial Stadium. Are you still with me out there?

"Your kind consideration to this request will be greatly appreciated," is what Petrucci wrote the Orioles on Sept. 9.

By December, he had not received his seat assignments. So he telephoned the Orioles. He was told the tickets would be mailed in "two to three weeks."

Jan. 16, Petrucci went to the ticket office. He was told that, because of his status as a longtime ticket holder -- celebrating his silver anniversary -- he was being given "special consideration."

Jan. 31, he called the ticket office again and was told he had been assigned upper reserved seats, Section 326. That was not what he wanted. So Petrucci's request went into the "problem file," from which his request for an upgrade would be processed.

Feb. 24, he called the ticket office again. He was told that nothing had changed; he was still in the "problem file," still assigned to the upper reserved seats he did not want.

Even worse, Petrucci says, he was told there were no terrace box seats left. An Oriole employee offered him "Upper Section 360, down the left field line." Petrucci asked that the tickets be held until he could make a personal visit to Oriole Park, which he was scheduled to do on Feb. 26. He was told the tickets could not be held.

"That's real consideration," Petrucci huffed.

Two days later, he took a tour of the stadium. No way, he decided, were upper reserved seats in Oriole Park "comparable or better" than his lower reserved seats in Memorial Stadium. Just no way.

As I said, we're talking loyal fan here. From what I gather, Steve Petrucci takes his baseball quite seriously. He's patronized the Orioles as a season ticket holder for 25 years. No way would he and his wife accept upper reserved seats in Oriole Park. Just no way.

So they went to the ticket office. The Petruccis were offered seats in "the last few rows" of terrace boxes, along the third base line. They agreed to take what they could get.

Two weeks later, they got an invoice in the mail -- for the upper reserved seats they did not want! Is this story making you nutty?

"Please note," Petrucci says, "that the invoice was mailed on March 13, 1992, with a date of March 5, with a note indicating, 'Please remit payment by March 3!' "

Exasperated, frustrated, exhausted, debilitated, humiliated, and goaded into a rage almost demoniacal, Petrucci wrote a nice letter to Oriole president Larry Lucchino. "You are my last resort!!" the letter began.

Petrucci provided Lucchino with a history of his battle to get season tickets for the new stadium, a work that should be entitled, "Petrucci Agonistes."

A couple days later and -- ba-bing! -- he's got two tickets in terrace box 27, Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Beautiful. Steve Petrucci is at long last happy. Which brings this tale to a merciful end. Sorry it took so long to get here.

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