The telescope in Joel Greenfield's office looks like unlikely furniture for a stockbroker, but yesterday was no ordinary day, and Greenfield's office at Prudential Securities Inc. on the 21st floor of 250 W. Pratt Street was no ordinary place.
"I like to watch baseball stars," he said.
So it was for those who had to work on Opening Day, but have the good fortune to work directly across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and on a high enough floor to look down at the new park. Throughout the 25-story building, whose graceful, tiered architecture is as modern as the new stadium's is traditional, law firms and stockbrokers blew off part or all of the afternoon to entertain clients, enjoy their children and watch the game.
"There isn't much work going on," said Sandy Darby, an attorney for Semmes, Bowen & Semmes who was one of about 300 people at the law firm's pre-game 19th-floor reception. "We love it. It's a great view."
And put this one in the what-I-did-for-love Hall of Fame. Darby won tickets to the game in an office lottery and gave them to her husband, another attorney at the firm. "I'm getting two new dresses," she said jokingly.
How much can you see up there? Practically all of the left side of the field, and the farther west you go on the upper floors, the more of the field you can see.
But things -- players, for example -- look pretty small from a height where you almost can look down at some of the lower-flying police helicopters, unless you can borrow Greenfield's telescope. Otherwise, a radio is a must to follow the game.
The tenants in the building have been watching their view develop.
"We sort of watched it grow," said Doug Fox, an attorney for Semmes, Bowen & Semmes. "We had a great view until the scoreboard went up."
People at parties split over whether game-watching will become a new tradition in office towers toward the west end of downtown.
"I think it's going to wear off after today," Darby said.
And attorneys Danny and Ricky Rosenthal of Owings Mills say they would return to their window seats only when the real thing is as impossible to get as yesterday -- such as for a World Series.
But attorney Herman Rosenthal, their father, wasn't sure.
"I suspect the library [which has the best view] will be used to a much greater extent," said Herman Rosenthal, whose east-end office, facing Harborplace, used to be the hot location. "A lot more research will be done."
But as much as Oriole Park at Camden Yards reminds architecture critics of Wrigley Field for the way it fits into the neighborhood, the experience is as different as the two neighborhoods the stadiums are in.
In Chicago, people who watch from the rooftops watch from their homes in what Greenfield, a Chicago native who first visited Wrigley Field at age 5, said was a neighborhood of "good old regular folks from Chicago" before moving upscale during the 1980s. A whole different class of baseball fans gets to peek in from corporate towers through Baltimore's knothole in the sky, and they'll have to do it mostly without the Wrigley tradition of day baseball.
But not everyone at Semmes, Bowen was concentrating on the Orioles game. In the midst of the party lurked Scott Goetsch, a 6-foot-9 attorney who played a little basketball at a small university called Duke.
"I'm more concerned about the [NCAA championship] game tonight," he said.