They're ushering in new generation of fans 35 years later, pair still dusting seats

July 10, 1993|By Tara Finnegan | Tara Finnegan,Contributing Writer

It was 35 years ago, and Ronald Ferguson Sr. and three of his friends were paid to watch the 1958 All-Star Game at Memorial Stadium.

Ferguson's father, Stan, was an Orioles usher, and Stan asked his son if he and a few of his friends would like to help out as ushers for the night.

"My friend Mel Jackson worked out in left field and he came up to me later on and said he got hit in the head with a foul ball. He had a lump on his head, too," said Ferguson, smiling at the memory. "And that was the only game he ever worked."

But that was not the last game that the younger Ferguson would work. He followed in the footsteps of his father, an usher for 45 years. And it won't be Ron Ferguson's last All-Star Game. An usher for 35 years, he will be dusting off seats at the All-Star Game at Camden Yards on Tuesday night.

"I love it. I like the job. I was born in it," Ferguson said.

Ferguson is one of 10 ushers who worked the 1958 All-Star Game and who still work full time with the Orioles. While he and the others wait for the gates to open for their second All-Star Game, there is time for reminiscing.

Gerald Siegel, who has been with the Orioles as an usher since Memorial Stadium's Opening Day in 1954, has been sifting through the memorabilia from the '58 game.

"The All-Star Game made the city of Baltimore jumping, you know what I mean?" Siegel said. "I remember it was a beautiful day, the crowd came early. It was one of the great games I've seen."

Siegel and Joseph Wise will be working together behind home plate during this year's All-Star Game just as they have been for 35 years.

The two began working together in 1958 when Wise was hired permanently as an usher. They have worked behind home plate -- in Section 41 at Memorial Stadium and now in Section 34 at Camden Yards -- for 35 years.

"We've never made any requests at all to stay together, but evidently they took into consideration that we were good as a team," Wise said.

Siegel and Wise had a perfect view on July 8, 1958, when the Orioles' Gus Triandos started at catcher and teammate Billy O'Dell pitched three scoreless innings to preserve the lead for the American League in its 4-3 victory.

"With the game being here, it would be great to have an Oriole be the MVP," Siegel said. "[Cal] Ripken would be my choice to win it."

Edward Marx started as an usher in 1956 and worked behind the Orioles dugout on the third-base side during the All-Star Game. In addition to watching Triandos and O'Dell, he was happy to see one of his favorite players, Ted Williams, get into the game.

"He went about his business and got out there and played ball," Marx said. "I'd hate to think what they would have to pay Ted Williams today."

Not only are the players these days making big money, but Ferguson is also surprised at the amount of money people are paying to get a ticket for the game.

"A customer in my section said he bought two tickets for $1,500. People could go home and watch it on TV, but they would rather be sitting in the upper deck or some remote section and get a little view of the game," he said.

Because crowds at the new stadium tend to take their seats late, Ferguson worries that he will be too busy to see much of the game.

"When you go to a sellout, we are so busy because Baltimore is a notoriously late crowd. You miss the first few innings because you're still seating people. When everyone gets seated, then you watch the game."

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