Dear Stadium Doctor:While watching Toronto defeat...

Stadium Doctor

June 21, 1992

Dear Stadium Doctor:

While watching Toronto defeat Baltimore on June 6, we noticed that the Orioles mascot has five fingers. Considering the effort to place an ornithologically correct bird on the hats, wouldn't it be consistent to remove one finger from each hand of the mascot?

Phil M. Polakoff

Randallstown

Joel P. Cohen

Owings Mills

Dear Phil M. Polakoff and Joel P. Cohen:

Thank you for your fine and most unusual question. I say unusual because as difficult as this is to believe, yours is the first letter ever to reach the Stadium Doctor on the important subject of how many fingers should be on the hands of a big stuffed bird costume with a perspiring person inside.

Because things were pretty slow around here, I was able to make a couple of telephone calls on this matter. I found out a few things. One is that not a lot of people can tell you how many fingers an ornithologically correct bird really has. You say four. Personally, I thought birds had wings instead of fingers, but am reluctant to inject a personal opinion.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the mascot does a lot of things that real birds don't have to do, such as signing autographs and patting little kids on the head. As you know, it's hard to write "Yours truly," with a wing.

Dear Stadium Doctor:

I am curious to know when players actually sign autographs. I always see players signing away on highlights of the new stadium. On Opening Day, I went as far as standing behind the dugout for two hours. I would very much like just one autograph of any Oriole.

Jackson Fivolando

Eastpoint

Dear Jackson Fivolando:

First of all, I want to tell you how sorry I am that you stood next to the dugout for such a long time and didn't even get a lock of Rick Dempsey's mustache.

Next, I'd like to tell you what I know about this, which, shockingly, could be helpful. There is a major-league rule that says the only time players, coaches and the manager can sign autographs before the game is during batting practice. To catch the Orioles taking theirs, you want to plan on being at the park when the gates open.

My advice: (1) Show up about two hours before the first pitch,

and (2) be nice to Elrod Hendricks.

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