Fledgling T-shirt Company Finds Roost At New Stadium

April 12, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Dan McClure and John Beck don't have to give the shirts off their backs to be part of baseball history at the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

They're more likely to be selling them.

McClure and Beck, along with artist Jeff Wilkinson, were selectedto provide the official commemorative T-shirts that sold at the Baltimore stadium.

Wilkinson, an Edgewood native, drew the rendering of the stadium emblazoned on the front of shirts, which are being printed by McClure and Beck's 5-month-old company, East Coast Screenprinters Inc.

The sketch shows the new stadium with the city skyline inthe background in hues of pink, purple, orange and red.

The shirts read "Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Inaugural Season 1992." Special versions of the shirts were made for Opening Day and the first night game.

East Coast Screenprinters, based in Baltimore, expects to sell about 100,000 copies of the Fruit of the Loom shirts this season.

McClure and Beck are amazed by the idea that one of the products from their young company will be treasured by Orioles fans for years to come.

"I was an Orioles fan my whole life," said McClure, a Havre de Grace native who is a senior at Towson State University. "I loveto go and watch the ball games. This is a dream come true."

McClure said the day he and Beck delivered the first shipment of shirts onOpening Day was "overwhelming."

While at the stadium, the entrepreneurs walked onto the playing field and met some of the players, including Cal Ripken Jr.

"He's very tall," said McClure.

The businessmen didn't see President Bush, who attended the Opening Day game, but they will be sending him one of their shirts, McClure said.

McClure, 23, is a veteran of the T-shirt screening business, initially working out of his dormitory room at Towson State and selling shirts to college clubs, sporting teams and church groups.

Last fall, McClure met Beck, a 25-year-old Pikesville resident whose family operates the Simon Harris sporting goods stores.

The Beck family wanted to get into the shirt business, so they put a classified ad in newspapers. McClure, always looking for opportunity, responded.

Until theOrioles contract came along, the majority of McClure and Beck's customers were college groups, bars and restaurants, and other businesses.

The partners hooked up with Wilkinson through a snow-ball stand McClure runs in Towson.

When McClure learned the owners of the property where he keeps the stand were opening an amusement park outsideWashington, the first thing he thought was that they'll need T-shirts.

McClure and Beck approached the park operators about the shirts, and they were directed to Wilkinson, who was designing the shirts.

Wilkinson, meanwhile, had the contract for the Orioles shirts and needed a company to make them.

East Coast Screenprinters is earning about $1 per shirt, which sell for $20 at the stadium, McClure said. The company usually earns about $3 per shirt in other contracts.

McClure and Beck see the Orioles contract as a way they can expand their business, which operates above a Simon Harris store in downtown Baltimore.

The partners, along with Wilkinson, are hoping to get the contract to make the shirts for the new stadium planned for the NFL's Washington Redskins.

Wilkinson, 30, said he landed the contract for the shirt after doing other Orioles projects, such as programs and commemorative cups. Knowing the stadium's management would be selling T-shirts, the artist said he presented administrators with his designs well before dozens of competitors.

The Timonium artist saidthe shirt for the new stadium is the one project that makes him mostproud.

"I'm so caught up in the middle of it, I haven't thought about it," Wilkinson said. "Maybe it will hit me when I'm sitting in the stadium and I see someone wearing our shirt."

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