Camden Yards-style park at home on range


July 19, 1992|By PETER SCHMUCK

The next Camden Yards is beginning to rise out of the ground not far from Arlington Stadium. The Texas Rangers are building their new ballpark with the same attention to detail and tradition that has made Oriole Park such a success.

That is no accident, according to Rangers president Tom Schieffer, who said that the Orioles have been helpful with the development of the project.

"They have been a tremendous help to us," Schieffer said Friday. Janet Marie Smith, Larry Lucchino and Eli Jacobs were very sensitive to the design issue. We turned to them for help setting up the design process, and they were enormously helpful."

Schieffer has spent a lot of time in Baltimore. He has watched Camden Yards grow from an idea to an ideal place to watch baseball. Now, the Rangers are on deck, and they have every reason to believe that their new ballpark will also be an unqualified success when it opens in 1994.

"I knew [Oriole Park] would meet with popular approval," he said. "We just hope we can come up with something as nice as that facility."

The Rangers are not trying to copy Camden Yards, but they are trying to carry out a similar concept -- building a park that is unique and user-friendly. It will have traditional lines, but the important thing is to recapture the feel of an old-time ballpark. That concept was born in Baltimore.

"I think we're going to have a very unique park," Schieffer said, "but the ground broken in Baltimore was the realization that the design creates the feel of the ballpark. It's a feeling people had in the old ballparks that they didn't have in the cookie-cutter parks. It's a breakthrough.

"It's a recognition that the old parks had a certain intimacy that allowed the game to flower. It put fans close to the play and gave them a sense of participation. That's what we are trying to do."

Just a misunderstanding

There was a lot made of the supposedly negative reception that President Bush got from the sellout crowd at Jack Murphy Stadium on Tuesday night, but it was just another instance when a better understanding of sports would have prevented the misconception that the fans were showing their disapproval for the current administration.

The fans merely mistook Bush for local favorite Goose Gossage, who hasn't done much the past four years, either.

Stop having fun

The Famous Chicken -- once a hometown favorite in San Diego -- made an unscheduled appearance at the All-Star Game and got a loud ovation from the sellout crowd. But he got a very rude reception from stadium security, which hustled him out of the stands and kept him out of sight for three innings.

Stadium officials might have looked the other way but for the strict security measures imposed during the president's visit.

Still, the contrasting crowd reactions to Bush and the popular mascot raise an interesting question: Now that Ross Perot is out of the race, could a man dressed in a chicken outfit collect enough votes to force the election into the House of Representatives?

Not taking it personally

Los Angeles Dodgers infielder Mike Sharperson was heavily booed during the All-Star introductions on Tuesday, but he took it in good humor. He doffed his cap and waved to the crowd.

"Maybe they remember some of the big hits I've gotten against the Padres," he said. "Or most likely, they would have booed any Dodger, no matter who it was."

Spring fever

The news out of Arizona had to hit the Orioles where it hurts the most. The San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners recently signed letters of intent to hold spring training in Peoria, Ariz. That's right. It appeared that two more teams had found a new spring training home while the Orioles continue to put together a deal for a permanent workout facility. But there's a catch.

The city of Peoria has yet to secure municipal funding for a new stadium, so the Mariners have set up an all-visitors schedule for the 1993 exhibition schedule and the Padres won't make their move until 1994.

In effect, both teams appear to have put themselves in the same predicament as the Orioles, though the Padres probably can remain in Yuma, Ariz., on a year-to-year basis.

Nice gesture

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Lee Smith was the only player on either All-Star team not to appear in the game, but it was partly by choice. The decision came down to Smith and fellow NL reliever Norm Charlton in the ninth inning, and Smith deferred.

"They called down to the bullpen and said, 'Which one of you wants to pitch?' " Charlton said. "Lee said: 'I've been in two of these. This is your first one. Go get 'em, kid.' "

Charlton recorded the final three American League outs in the top of the ninth and struck out to end the game.

Keeping it in perspective

All-Star starter Tom Glavine may have set a record by giving up nine hits, but he wasn't about to give in to the notion that the evening was a disappointment.

"If I can start an All-Star Game every year, then have somebody tell me I stink, I'll take it," he said.

Just the fax

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