Police pitch 1-hitter against crime Jacket stolen from car at new stadium mars opening game.

OPENING NIGHT LIGHTS

April 09, 1992|By David Michael Ettlin | David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writer Richard Irwin contributed to this story.

A noticeable police presence seemed to keep crime away from Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the "Opening Week" festivities continued with the new stadium's first night game.

Although the sky was dark, there was no shortage of lights in the neighborhoods surrounding "the Yard" last night -- and their glow shined on the badges of at least 100 Baltimore police officers.

The number of peacekeepers was far smaller than the nearly 300 duty Monday, when security considerations were complicated the daytime hustle and bustle of the downtown area, an afternoon rush hour and a presidential visit.

But in cars and on foot, on motorcycles, scooters and horseback, the police officers seemed sufficient in number to watch over the crowds arriving and leaving, and inside during the game -- on the prowl to prevent any illegal activities whether they involved parking or mugging.

There were plenty of cars ticketed and towed for violations of game-day parking restrictions intended to preserve curbside spaces for the people living nearby. But crime -- other than an isolated incident of ticket scalping and a theft from a car on a stadium parking lot -- appeared to have taken leave of the neighborhood.

"Some of the residents are happy to see us. If [the ballpark] has brought anything to their community, it's more police officers," said one of the eight mounted law men whose normal 5 p.m.-1 a.m. patrol areas were slightly altered to take in the baseball crowd's comings and goings.

A Southern District patrolman, watching over the Washington Village Shopping Center three blocks west of the new stadium, said the police officers and traffic control agents had at least 60 intersections to cover, keeping pedestrians and motor vehicles from running into each other.

When many people in the stadium crowd of 42,807 surged on foot across Pratt Street after the Orioles-Cleveland Indians "Opening Night" game ended, two and sometimes three uniformed officers were needed at each intersection to keep them from completely blocking motorized traffic along the thoroughfare.

Among the fans leaving the Camden Yards environs on foot were Thomas Galloway, his wife, Colleen, and their 14-month-old son, Benjamin -- heading home to Barre Circle in the company of friends from Towson, Mark and Patti Schuette, who formerly lived near the old stadium. All had smiles on their faces.

Not that the Orioles played so hot, on the losing end of a 4-0 score, but they were pleased with the stadium and enjoying the spring night -- one of the warmest in months.

Mr. Galloway, 27, who has lived in the former urban homesteading neighborhood across Martin Luther King Boulevard for three years, also was pleased with what he had seen of the police protection for the three games played so far -- the Friday afternoon exhibition, Monday's Opening Day and last night.

The best thing about the police, he said, was "being visible" -- and he hoped that conspicuous presence would continue through the baseball season.

Kyung Lee, owner of the Ridgely Mini-Mart on Washington Boulevard barely a block west of the ballpark, acknowledged that he felt safer with all the police officers around his Ridgely's Delight store.

But he didn't think the stadium had improved his business just yet,because people driving to the game were afraid that if they stopped to shop their cars would be gone -- towed like all the neighborhood's other illegally-parked vehicles to a less-traveled stretch of Key Highway, with a costly ticket on the windshield.

Steven Shanks' car wasn't towed but it was broken into. Southern District police said that Mr. Shanks, of Pasadena in Anne Arundel County, parked his car on a stadium lot in the 100 block of S. Howard St., about 4:30 p.m. When he went back to his car about 10:30 p.m., he discovered that it had been forcibly entered and a leather jacket valued at $350 had been stolen.

Southern District police also reported that between 4 p.m. Tuesday and 2 p.m. yesterday, a street sign, possibly decorated with an Orioles bird, was stolen from the 600 block of Burgundy St., about two blocks from the stadium.

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