Imagine the delight of Steven Tatsapaugh when he learned he was one of just 2,000 winners of a pair of tickets for Opening Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Imagine his dismay when he read the invoice that arrived yesterday with the happy news -- he'd already missed the deadline for sending in his money -- noon yesterday.
And he couldn't very well race breathless to the ticket windows at the new ballpark and plead his case.
Tatsapaugh lives in Kingston, N.Y.
Apparently, although some winners received their notices two weeks ago, others received the good news in yesterday's mail -- after the deadline for responding had passed.
"I tried calling the number on the invoice," said Tatsapaugh. "I ended up speed-dialing for four hours. I couldn't listen to the busy signal anymore."
Not to worry. Orioles spokesman Rick Vaughn, who answers his own phone, said that despite the deadline printed on the invoice "we are going to be very flexible about this. We're not going to hold people to that deadline.
"We will give people a couple of days, and we've extended the hours at our ticket windows [9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the northwest corner of the B&O warehouse]," Vaughn said.
The Orioles put aside about 4,000 tickets for three lotteries -- one for the public, one for 13-game mini-plan holders and one for Orioles preferred customers. The club received almost 250,000 postcard entries in response.
Some winners, like Tatsapaugh, are out-of-towners.
"I'll drive into Baltimore right away if I have to," said Ron Keefer, an inventory manager for the Navy in Camp Hill, Pa.
The tickets might be there. But Vaughn suggests that out-of-towners call the Orioles at (410) 685-9800 and pay for the tickets with a major credit card, then pick up the tickets at the will-call windows on Opening Day.
But there are season-ticket holders who have not yet received their tickets, either. And, with Opening Day less than a week away, they are nervous, too.
"The last of the Opening Day tickets went out this morning," Vaughn said yesterday, "provided the season-ticket plans had tbeen paid for in full."
If you have not paid for your season tickets, Vaughn suggested that you go to the Orioles ticket windows, pay for the plan and return the next day to pick up the Opening Day tickets.
"Unless you want to do it all in one day," he said. "Then be prepared to wait a while."