How the Orioles see the park . . .

April 04, 1992

The wind dumped a drive by Leo Gomez that would have been a home run at Memorial Stadium into an opponent's glove at the left-field wall.

The infield grass was high, stopping bunts by the New York Mets dead in their tracks. The wind swirled, making it difficult to read fly balls.

Despite those first-game drawbacks, Oriole Park at Camden Yards received excellent reviews yesterday from the Baltimore Orioles, who will play 81 games there.

A sampling:

Bob Milacki, yesterday's starter: "The mound was good. It wasn't a drastic change from the bullpen mound. You try to get them as close as possible.

"I like it here. You don't worry about the dimensions too much. Everybody talks about how short right field is, but there is a 25-foot wall that might hold some balls in the park. The wind was swirling some, but I didn't get stiff."

Mike Devereaux: "We'll definitely have an advantage after playing a few games here. We went out there today to check the angles, the fence and the field before the game. No doubt, it will take a little time, but not much. Give us a few series and we should make the adjustment. The stadium itself is incredible."

Leo Gomez: "I hit that one ball pretty good, and it just died on me. For a right-handed hitter, it's going to be hard. Right now, the infield is too soft. The ball stays down and doesn't go anywhere. But when we go on the road, they'll put something on it to make it harder. The stadium itself, I love it. I'm very happy to be playing here."

Bill Ripken: "This is a pretty nice park. I never thought I'd say this, but there might be too much room in this clubhouse. It's huge. The field will be OK. The grass is thick and the field is soft now, but I don't see any problems eventually. The hitting background seemed very good. Everything seemed to go right."

Mike Flanagan: "My biggest concern is that the mound was comfortable, and it was. The field is terrific, and the background for pitchers is as good as it is for hitters. You don't have to look through chain-link fences in the bullpen to see what's happening. You can see if you have the third hitter coming up. Some parks, you have to do that by word of mouth. The park

played very big today, which I think is good."

Chito Martinez: "I'm going to enjoy playing here. I was joking with Roland [Hemond] that I'm ready to sign a 10-year contract right now. To me, playing at home is everything. The fans make it like the stadium has been here for years. That motivates you. I'm not going to worry about that wall in right field. If I do that, I'll hit .220. I'm going to concentrate on hitting to left-center."

Randy Milligan: "They've got something very special here. They got what they were looking for. When the weather changes, the ball Leo hit will be long gone. The one problem I can see is that the fans are so close to the field, that a heckler will be right up on the players, particularly from the other team."

David Segui, who got the Orioles' first hit: "The infield needs to settle or whatever, but that will improve. The wind was gusting and the flags don't necessarily tell you which way it's blowing. We'll be comfortable here after a week or so. I thought we'd better not get no-hit the first time here. That would be an eerie sign. We might have to go back to Memorial Stadium."

Brady Anderson: "It's going to be nice, especially in the clubhouse. I'm getting lost in this place. The wind was gusting from right field a lot and playing tricks with medium-high flies. And Leo and Cal [Ripken] hit drives that didn't go anywhere. It's starting to look like a pitcher's park."

Rick Dempsey: "I'll go home and say the rosary and hope it works out so I can stay here all year. I've never seen a stadium this pretty in all my life. You can't help but win games in here. It's just the right style. New, but with an antiquated look to it. You know, the first time you go into Yankee Stadium, you get goose bumps. That's the way I felt the first time here. It's all baseball, with the charm of Wrigley Field."

Todd Frohwirth: "There wasn't any heat in the bullpen. Other than that, it was great. It got a little cold when the sun got behind the clouds. I like it that you can see over the bullpen wall and see the game. Sometimes in Toronto you have no idea what's going on. Here you can see what's happening and adjust accordingly."

How others see it . . .

Commissioner Fay Vincent: "It's really, as my daughter would say, awesome. It's intended to be reminiscent of an old ballpark and it is. I love the warehouse. It's special.

"I'm sure a lot of the new stadiums will borrow from this design. I think this will be the prototype. I'm sure some people will try to improve on this. I don't know if they can. I love [the advertising signs]. I grew up with that and still remember the sign at Ebbets Field, that if you hit it, you won a suit."

Al Harazin, Mets general manager: "This is a terrific fans' park. It's a ballpark and not a stadium. I've seen it before from Ron Shapiro's office, but there's nothing like being here. They're building one like this on the water for our Triple-A team in Tidewater."

Jeff Torborg, Mets manager: "I didn't hear any complaints from our players. It's really a nice park. One way you look, it seems like old Comiskey. Then you turn the other way and it looks like Wrigley. It has the feeling of an older park, but it's brand new."

Vince Coleman, Mets left fielder: "It reminded me of Wrigley, one of my favorites. The fans are on top of you. It's great for baseball. It's a great bunting field -- the ball stops. Overall, a great field. It should be great for the fans of Baltimore."

Tom McCraw, former Orioles batting coach, now Mets first-base coach: "It's amazing. You feel like you want to play when you come in here. It's obviously going to be a good place for the Orioles and their fans."

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