Oriole Park opens its gates to eevery kind of baseball fan ALL-STAR GAME July 13 1993 Baltimore

NUTS, WEIRDOS, AVERAGE JOES

July 14, 1993|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Staff Writer

Uncle Sam is standing out on Eutaw Street, carrying a sign that reads, "America's favorite uncle needs a ticket, please."

A nun is handing out anti-abortion leaflets. The Jews for Jesus group is giving out literature, too. Peanuts cost a dollar, pretzels are two for $5 and Uncle Sam was offered one ticket for $1,500.

Grown men dress in baseball uniforms and their children wear baseball caps. Muffin the Mascot was here, and so was the Orioles Bird.

Sorry, Barney was a no-show.

Baseball is America's national pastime, the All-Star Game is its showcase and these are its fans.

"Nuts, fanatics, crazy people, weirdos, rich guys, fat guys, corporate and average Joes," said Dan Johnson, 28, a computer analyst from Seattle. "They all come out on this night from all over the country. Baseball. Ain't it a grand game?"

*

His real name is Uncle Sam Rounseville. It's even on his driver's license.

True story.

"I used to be a textile salesman," said Rounseville, 53, from Boston. "But three years ago, I cashed in my retirement and insurance policies. I'm doing this full time now, speaking to young people and audiences all over the world. I even went to Barcelona last summer."

Rounseville didn't have tickets for the Summer Olympics, but got them at the last minute.

"A corporate sponsor usually comes up and gives me a ticket," said Rounseville. "I'm not going to pay a thousand dollars for a ticket. I'll get in."

As he finishes speaking, Linda Smith, 33, from Philadelphia yells, "All that tax money we pay and Uncle Sam can't buy a ticket. What's this world coming to?"

For the record, Rounseville was handed a free ticket at 7:20 p.m. by Steve Cohen, food and beverage supervisor for Fair Lanes, who said he got his tickets free from Coca-Cola.

*

Joe Eckert, 44, is an Orioles fan from Washington.

L He can buy a ticket, but he won't unless the price is right.

He was on Eutaw Street trying to make a deal at 3 p.m. yesterday.

"I've had people trying to sell me a ticket for $800 to $900," said Eckert. "You know, this place looks like a stadium, feels like a stadium, smells like a stadium but it doesn't sound like a stadium. All these corporate types buy the tickets, and the average person can't get one."

Don't feel badly for Eckert. He had an idea.

"I was in this same situation on Opening Day," said Eckert. "Then this little kid comes up and tells me how to get into the game. He says wait until they play the national anthem, tell them you're from ARA [the company that provides food and beverage services for the stadium], and they'll let you right in. It worked and I slipped him 20 bucks. We were both happy. I'll try it again tonight."

Chris Evans, 30, a retail manager from Trenton, N.J., had no such plans. He was trying to find tickets. His wife and 10-month-old twins were waiting for him at a nearby hotel.

"I'm not worrying about it," said Evans. "I've been to Super Bowls, hockey All-Star Games, the NBA semifinals and the Final Four without tickets, but I've always gotten in."

"I'll wait until the introductions and if I don't have them by then, I'll go back to the hotel," said Evans. "By the way, my last name is Burek. I thought you were a cop."

*

One of the hottest areas at the stadium is outside the right-field wall. Fans arrived early to jockey for position to catch a home run souvenir.

"It's hectic back here, and you can get smashed," said Charlie Sears, 24, an inventory auditor from Baltimore. "You get smooshed like a sardine, but you can also get some great pictures. But I would love to get a ball. A kid was about to get trampled here yesterday, and I started yelling for people to leave him alone. He ends up catching Ken Griffey's home run off the wall. It bounced right to him. I was disappointed. We probably could have wrestled the ball away from him."

"I've never seen anything like this," said Chad Craig, 21, from Federal Hill. "I got lifted off my feet for about five seconds by people trying to get a ball yesterday. I saw one guy's head smashed into a flagpole. I've seen blood."

Why did Craig come back last night?

"I kind of like it and I want a ball," he said.

*

Oriole Park at Camden Yards drew a lot of praise from out-of-town fans yesterday.

"The stadium rolls right into the city," said Bob Stewart, 53, from San Francisco. "I've been here since Saturday night and everything is right here -- the stadium, the city and the Inner Harbor."

"It's old-fashioned, but intimate," said Kathy Siino, 61, also from San Francisco. "I'd like to see something like this in San Francisco."

Mary Birdsong, 35, a liberal arts professor at Penn State, said: "It's an integral part of the city. I like the structure. There's plenty of room to sit down, and walk around. It seems like I've been here for years."

*

There was one drawback, however. The area where players come into the stadium was blocked off by police and ushers.

Autographs were practically unavailable to youngsters.

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