Opening Day brought lots of excitement to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on and off the field. It seemed as if most people on the sky box level spent their time box hopping or wandering the halls to see and be seen.
I heard an amusing incident happened in the box of the Orioles owner Eli Jacobs. As many people know, Mr. Jacobs considers himself a private person and prefers that guests to his box be invited. So you can imagine the excitement when a poor unsuspecting mouse was spotted creeping around Jacobs' box. Ushers were on their hands and knees trying to find it, but it seems the four-legged critter knew he wasn't welcome and took off for home.
I roamed the sky box section for hours on Opening Day asking people what they thought of the new stadium. Following are some responses:
* D. B. Sweeney, movie star ("The Cutting Edge"), is a loyal Orioles' fan and flew in from Detroit for the game. He sat in Toyota's sky box and enjoyed himself so much that he wants to come to tonight's game. "It's the best ballpark in the country," he said. "I would stop playing ice hockey [for fun] and take up baseball if I could play in a park like this."
* Gov. William Donald Schaefer was happier than I've seen him in years. "I feel like a new father and so glad to show off my baby to the whole world." Then he hinted that it felt so good that he'd like to become a father again -- perhaps a Columbus center or a new convention center or a new football stadium.
* Bruce Hoffman, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority, was beaming. "We've created a facility that everyone is enjoying. It's just what the governor and economic development wanted."
* Charles Mann, Washington Redskins defensive end, stopped by to say "hi" to his favorite governor. "This ball park is very impressive. Can you believe this is the first time I've felt underdressed at a ballpark? I'm here because I'm a Cal Ripken and Governor Schaefer fan."
* Peter O'Malley, Prince George's County attorney, said, "Until today, Fenway Park was my favorite stadium. I cannot believe that I live only 25 minutes, door to door from my home in Upper Marlboro, from professional baseball."
* Attending the opening of the new stadium was a sentimental journey for Maury Povich. He and his father, Shirley Povich, who has worked for the Washington Post for 70 years, had attended (( the 1954 Memorial Stadium opening, so this was a must for the Povich family.
* Orioles announcer Chuck Thompson said from his broadcast booth, "I don't have a lot of mementos from baseball, but sitting next to the president of the Unites States is one I'll keep."
* The "Today Show's" Joe Garagiola was talking about Oriole shortstop Cal Ripken: "I don't know if they can afford to sign him, but I don't know if they can afford not to sign him."
* Chick Lang, racing commentator for WBAL-AM: "As a native Baltimorean, this ballpark makes me proud. It's the Lexington Park of baseball."
* Joe Spear, vice president of Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, the architectural firm that designed the new ballpark, said, "Our people are so proud. It turned out great."
* Bill Abher, Home Team Sports: "I love the style and grace of this stadium. If there was ever a memorial to the late Edward Bennett Williams, this is it."
* Arnold Lehmann, director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, was beaming. "This is absolutely terrific and an asset for the whole city."
* Jerry Geckle and Bernard Trueschler, two retired Baltimore businessmen, were sitting in the state of Maryland's sky box reminiscing about the original businessmen's development committee, who helped plan and raise funds for the original studies for the new stadium. "We were in on the original dream and it has turned out better than we ever dreamed."
* My favorite Realtor, Bill Flynn of O'Conor Piper and Flynn and his wife, Mike, had a great time and both agreed that this ballpark is everything you could imagine and more.
* Ray Haysbert, CEO of Parks Sausage, said that "the new stadium ranks with Harborplace, the National Aquarium and the light rail as the keystone to Baltimore development. Shows vision."
* Bernie Faloney, chairman of CME Industries in Canada and a well-known, former Canadian football star, and wife Janet were guests of Mark Wasserman, Maryland's Economic and Employment Development secretary, and had this comment: "From the land of Toronto's sky dome, all we can say is that this is a real ballpark."
* George Wills, Wills & Associates, feels we are nipping at the heels of the great Wrigley Field with this new park.
* Wayne Chappell, executive director of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, said, "This is not just a place to watch a game. It will do wonders for tourism. I already have a client who wants to bring 3,000 people for a party on the club level after the season. Plus, I'm co-hosting a party for meeting planners in the three party suites on June 26 for the Orioles-Kansas City game with the Kansas City tourism people."
* Capt. Buddy Harrison, owner of Harrison's Pier Five, stopped by the governor's suite. "I'm so happy with this new ballpark. It's bringing nearly 50,000 people into the city for every game and they have to eat somewhere. I've already seen a difference in my business."
* Gene Raynor, director of the Maryland Board of Elections, said, "This is the best thing that has happened to Baltimore. Governor Schaefer's legacy will be Harborplace and the new stadium."