Scalpers have trouble getting their merchandise 1993 OUT OF THE PARK


July 14, 1993|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Staff Writer

John Alley of Seattle innocently carried his four All-Star outfield tickets to the Oriole warehouse Monday to see if he might be able to trade for something a little better. The Oriole ticket seller listened patiently. Then he offered Mr. Alley this advice:

"Take your tickets. Go back to the hotel. Put them in the safe. And consider yourself lucky."

And then: "You got four seats? Together?"

Pause. "I wouldn't waste any time getting back to the hotel."

Mr. Alley wrapped his arms around the satchel in which his tickets lay and furtively scurried back to the hotel.

Going like sapphires

Tickets. At Camden Yards yesterday, you might as well have been stopping strangers and asking for sapphires.

Mr. Alley, a cheerful veteran of three All-Star games, five World Series, the U.S. Open and the Los Angeles Summer Olympics, calls this "by far the hottest event ticket I've ever seen. Of all the events I've been to, this is the toughest."

Along Russell Street, down Pratt Street, in the parking lots, fans were waving homemade signs: "I Need 2 Tickets." "We Need All-Star Tickets."

The award for the most polite sign goes to Tony: "Please Sell Me Some All-Star Tickets."

But Tony, who won't give his real name, isn't a well-mannered fan. "Look, I'm a scalper," he says as he stops on the Eutaw Street promenade.

During All-Star Week, Tony, 21, has made about $5,000. The scarcity of tickets, however, has slowed him down.

On Monday, he scored, paying $300 for two tickets that someone on the street put up for sale. He sold them fast, for $500 -- each. That's $700 profit in one deal -- if you can find the product to sell and keep out of the way of the police.

Nearby, Robert Brown, in a suit and tie, stopped on his way to work for a stroll among the fans when he was seized with a need to be the park at game time.

He found a piece of cardboard, borrowed a pen and neatly lettered, "Need 2 Tickets." "It's worth a try," he says.

Soon, he found some sidewalk businessmen quoting prices: $800 for a terrace seat and "$400 for one in the upper deck, on the ceiling." He passed.

An hour later, he was still standing near Camden Station, in his business-suited best, waving his arms and his sign and calling, "Tickets. Need two tickets."

Running out of time

Lonny Dziegelewski arrived ticketless with five pals from Warren, Mich., Friday. Since then, they've toured Baltimore's attractions (and bars), watched some baseball, bought T-shirts and caps and souvenir programs. And searched for tickets.

Yesterday morning, however, the quest appeared doomed.

What would they do if lightning didn't strike? If no miracle happened? If at game time they were still without seats?

"Probably drink," Mr. Dziegelewski says.

Fever dreams

Bobbing high over Camden Yards yesterday morning bobbed giant tethered baseball balloons. "Catch The Fever," they said.

This is how fevered the fans were early yesterday, nine and 10 hours before "The Star-Spangled Banner":

They formed small crowds around the warehouse window that Bobby Bonilla cracked during Monday's workout. They took turns posing for photos at the spot.

They waited for the doors to open at the Orioles Baseball Store, treasure trove of Orioles and All-Star souvenirs -- including limited-edition items available on game day only.

They stood in line at the U.S. Postal Service van to have souvenirs stamped with the special Oriole Park at Camden Yards All-Star cancellation.

And at 11:30 in the morning, they were already eating sandwiches from Boog's Barbeque.

Better than the old days

And so it went before game time, the last day in Renaissance Baltimore's All-Star Week.

The "CBS Morning News" broadcast yesterday morning from Camden Yards. The "Today" show's Willard Scott did the weather from the field.

Over the last week, fans raved about Baltimore, praised the Aquarium, roamed Harborplace, gawked at Tom Selleck and Michael Jordan, sought out the Babe Ruth Museum and went from glitzy hotel to glitzy hotel looking for ball players.

In 1958, the last time Baltimore was host to the All-Star Game, Baltimore's tourist attractions were meager: Fort McHenry and The Block. It had four downtown hotels: the Belvedere, the Lord Baltimore, the Southern and the Emerson, says Walter Sondheim, one of the fathers of the city's revival. There were no Beltway hotels. There was no Beltway.

The Charles Center Project, the first step in the city's renewal, had been presented to Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro Jr. by the Greater Baltimore Committee only four months before the game. The Inner Harbor was lined with rotting warehouses. The trains rolling through town carried tourists to Washington. Few had reason to disembark here.

Yesterday, Wayne Chappell, executive director of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, said All-Star tourists will spend $30 million in hotels, restaurants, cabs and shops before they leave.

"This," Mr. Chappell said as he looked down the promenade at noon, "is just great."

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