All-Star visitors shine bright, chow down

July 13, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

They can pitch, hit and run, but can the best in major league baseball party?

Last night, the boys of summer proved that a silly thing like the 64th All-Star Game needn't keep you from having a good time.

So, on the eve of squaring off on the field, they celebrated by the buffet table. Atlanta Braves outfielder Dave Justice arrived hand in hand with his actress-wife Halle Berry. Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin munched on crab cakes. And Minnesota outfielder Kirby Puckett may have been the best-dressed all-star of the evening, turning up in a dark suit and red tie.

Those were just the players spied. The elbow-rubbing quotient was indeed high since other sports and movie stars dropped by, including Reggie Jackson, who compared tennis shoes with ESPN broadcaster Dan Patrick, and Olympian Florence Griffith Joyner, who won praise for her nails (a rainbow of colors finished off with rhinestones) and for her form at bat during a celebrity home-run hitting contest earlier in the day.

While some stargazers may have been thrilled to see Angels pitcher Mark Langston at the party, he got his big thrill that afternoon, meeting his idol -- Bill Murray -- at the celebrity batting practice.

"Overall, from top to bottom, I'd give his form an A," Mr. Langston said. "He presented himself a lot better than the other guys. They looked nervous, but he looked like he knew what he was going."

In 12 tents set up in front of the Maryland Science Center, some 2,400 lucky guests of Major League Baseball -- players, club officials and friends -- got "a walking tour of Maryland," or at least that's what the invitation promised.

In fact, they got to eat their way through the state, dropping by such favorite locales as "Little Italy," "Route 50" and "Planet Baltimore," a futuristic vision of the city that included a 9-foot-tall crab and an Orioles bird in silver space garb.

Also on the menu were crab cakes and beer, mashed potatoes and meatloaf, smoked turkey and scones -- all served up along with entertainment by 100 different performers. (For those stuck at home, ESPN and CBS radio captured it live.)

Chicago pitcher Jack McDowell drank beer in "Ocean City," while Chicago first baseman Frank Thomas danced with his 1-year-old son, Sterling, in "Western Maryland." And Frank Robinson, assistant general manager for the Orioles, toured "Planet Baltimore" with his wife and daughter.

Feeding baseball's masses was no easy feat.

Classic Catering People -- which beat out other top caterers for this honor -- served up 10,000 crab cakes, 4,000 oversized cookies and 200 pounds of tortellini during the 3 1/2 -hour party.

Johnny Bench won honors for being the first baseball legend to arrive, while Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke also turned up just after the party started at 7 p.m. with one hope in his heart.

He wanted to meet San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds.

Would he ask the game's leading vote-getter about his trademark earring?

"Oh no," said the mayor with a laugh, "I wouldn't dream of it. I'd just like to welcome him to Baltimore."

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