Orioles, Mets set for Camden Yards dress rehearsal Baseball takes center stage, with Murray part of cast

April 03, 1992|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

For months now, cars have slowed coming over the incline on Russell Street, approaching Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, as drivers have stolen a glance at the big building under construction to the right.

Beginning today, the construction is over and fans can wander right on in, provided they have a ticket.

Yes, baseball fans, the wait has ended. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is open for business, beginning with today's exhibition against the New York Mets, and all is nearly ready.

During yesterday's "Walk in the Park" open house, workers still were pouring quick-drying concrete around some entrances, painting signs and smoothing out rough edges around the place.

Today's exhibition is sold out, though the Orioles made only 32,000 of the 48,041 seats available, using the contest as a dry run for Monday's season opener against the Cleveland Indians.

Today's game affords an interesting sidelight: the return of Eddie Murray to Baltimore.

Murray, one of only five Orioles whose number is retired, was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1988 season. He signed with the Mets as a free agent after last season.

Although he appeared at former teammate Cal Ripken's autograph and memorabilia show in November, Murray declined an invitation to return for Memorial Stadium's closing ceremonies last October.

Craig Sanders, an assistant public relations director for the Mets, said he expected New York manager Jeff Torborg to play most of his regulars today, and that includes Murray.

Sanders said there was a "very, very good chance" that Murray would play today, and added that "I know he [Murray] is looking forward to it."

The Mets, who added former Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Bobby Bonilla and Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Willie Randolph through free agency and traded for Kansas City Royals pitcher Bret Saberhagen, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, have more to worry about than the reaction that Murray will attract.

The Mets have been rocked in recent weeks by separate allegations. First, a New York woman alleged that three players, pitcher Dwight Gooden and outfielders Daryl Boston and Vince Coleman, raped her a year ago.

Then, pitcher David Cone was sued for $8.1 million, stemming from allegations of indecent public exposure. As a result of the flurry of attention, Mets players have pledged not to speak to the media for an indefinite period.

Sid Fernandez will start today's game for the Mets, and Bob Milacki, who started the last game in Memorial Stadium, will pitch the first exhibition game in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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