Fans stand on line for Moonlight Madness Thousands buy O's single-game tickets

December 05, 1992|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Staff Writer

They came by bus, by light rail, by automobile and on foot They came by the thousands to Moonlight Madness last night at Camden Yards.

The first few customers began waiting before dawn, wanting to be first in line for the 1.5 million precious Orioles tickets that went on sale. The club offered hot chocolate and coffee to those who persevered the longest.

By 6 p.m., when the ticket windows opened, lines stretched all the way into the parking lot. The event was clearly a hit. By 7 p.m., the lines were considerably shorter.

"Surprisingly, the first big push was for bleacher seats," said Vince Dunbar, the Orioles' director of sales. "It was only a matter of which dates fans wanted."

The Orioles had 27 windows open at the park and an estimated 300 outlets, including the Ticketmaster Phone Charge system, taking orders for the first sale of individual game tickets. The club already had capped season-ticket orders at 27,500.

Customers were given a ticket or der form with a number for their purchase. The numbers were posted at various points to let them know when to get in line.

No lower box seats were offered, but fans had their choice of any other category.

"I think it's a pretty good way to do it," said Jim Wilborn of Catonsville. "But I don't think it's really fair that people can call up and get tickets while others wait in line five or six hours."

As he waited, Wilborn was confident he would get the tickets he wanted, four each for four games, "as close to the field as possible."

He said he was getting an early start for the 1993 season. Last season, he purchased tickets for a game in April only to find that they were "in different rows. I was shocked that they were going that quick last year."

Jim Scales of Ellicott City said he "found out by accident" that Moonlight Madness was taking place and "thought maybe 150 or 200 people would be here. It wasn't really advertised that much. When I got here, I was surprised by how many were already here."

Scales' wife was out of town and he was planning to surprise her with tickets to games next season against the World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays, her favorite team.

"I have a feeling I may have some problems getting them," he said while in line. "But she is a huge Blue Jay fan and that's what I want."

He said he was trying to make sure he had tickets after "paying a scalper $20 for bleacher seats in mid-July last year. By the end of the season, I didn't even try to get tickets. That's why I came now, to beat the rush."

The event had a carnival atmosphere. The Orioles opened the club level of the stadium to all fans, preventing any excessive exposure to the brisk weather. Temperatures were dropping into the 40s downtown after dusk.

An hour after ticket-buying started, the lines had thinned appreciably and most customers retired to autograph sessions, trivia contests, prize drawings, stage shows, tours of the Orioles' clubhouse and memorabilia sales in the comfort of the ballpark interior. Plus, there were celebrity Santa Clauses to visit. Signing autographs were two members of the Orioles Hall of Fame, Ken Singleton and Dick Hall, as well as current Orioles Brady Anderson, Randy Milligan, Jeff Tackett and Jim Poole.

The Orioles limited buyers to a maximum of 10 tickets to a maximum of eight games to discourage scalpers from hoarding large numbers for future use.

Dunbar would not venture a guess as to the total number of tickets that were sold yesterday -- at the ticket office and via phone.

"It's hard to predict something like that," he said. "This is the first time this has been attempted. By the end of next week, we'll have a pretty good idea."

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