Catching all the stars gazing Even game's best have their heroes

July 13, 1993|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

The Baltimore Orioles clubhouse at Camden Yards was invaded by the enemy yesterday. And Mike Mussina found himself nearly surrounded by current and ex-Toronto Blue Jays.

On one side were Jimmy Key and Duane Ward, on the other was Pat Hentgen. Only Rick Aguilera of the Minnesota Twins kept Mussina from feeling as if he had been traded.

"It's pretty interesting," said Mussina, who greeted the players as they walked in before the All-Star Workout. "I think it's a nice addition that you can get to talk to people you don't know."

Truth be known, it was as strange for the Blue Jays and Key, now with the New York Yankees, as it was for Mussina and Orioles teammate Cal Ripken. But Ward was looking forward to the opportunity, and the chance to beat the National League.

"It's still going to be baseball," said the Toronto reliever. "Just a bunch of guys in different uniforms."

If tonight is strictly baseball, yesterday was reserved for multi-sport stargazing. Even the stars were gazing.

"It's great for the game," Hall of Famer Jim Palmer said of the festive atmosphere that pervaded Oriole Park. "The NBA has done a great job marketing itself, so why shouldn't baseball do something like this?"

Said Hall of Famer and Baltimore native Al Kaline: "Nothing is going to take away from the game itself. Something like this only adds to it."

The Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball Game was a chance to give Palmer and some of his former teammates one more standing ovation. It was a chance for Orioles fans to "Booooooog" for you-know-who.

And yesterday was a chance to see Michael Jordan, only slightly out of his element in the Celebrity Home Run Challenge. But it was Reggie Jackson, not Jordan, who swiped the spotlight.

Jackson, who had been trying to give batting tips to the likes of Jordan and Florence Griffith Joyner, answered the chant of "Reg-gie . . . Reg-gie," by the sellout crowd by calling for a bat from the American League dugout. Cecil Fielder threw one out and, after a dozen or so pitches from Bob Gibson, Jackson parked one onto Eutaw Street.

"It was a thrill," said Jackson, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 1. "Any time you have people calling your name, it's nice."

Nobody was chanting Tom Selleck's name, but a man who has made a habit of taking batting practice at ballparks across the country got a roar after hitting one into the right-field seats. Selleck, somehow, lost the celebrity contest to Jordan.

"In [the movie] 'Mr. Baseball,' we had 50,000 in a ballpark in Japan. In one sequence I had to hit one out, and I did," said Selleck. "But these people are Americans, and this park is bigger. It was special."

After watching the celebrities hit and in many cases, whiff, Ken Griffey had some advice.

For Jordan: "Stick to jump shots."

For actor Bill Murray: "Stick to comedy."

For Griffith Joyner: "I like her."

While the fans were clamoring for autographs, so were many of tonight's participants. A little-known fact about baseball players is that they seek out autographs from their peers, as well as their heroes.

During the All-Star festivities, there is an autograph room near each clubhouse for the players to go and trade signatures.

"We all started out as fans," said Chicago Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg. "It's nice to see a lot of these guys you grew up rooting for and ask for their autograph."

Hentgen, for one, seemed to feel that way about many of his teammates. It has been a memorable half-season for the 24-year-old right-hander. He started in spring training trying to win a spot in the rotation and has been the ace of the Blue Jays' staff with an 11-4 record.

"I'm in awe," he said as his teammates prepared for the workout.

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