As host with the most, city could be in All-Star site plans sooner than you'd think

Bill Tanton

July 15, 1993|By Bill Tanton

This was the morning after the 64th All-Star Game in the Orioles offices in the warehouse at Camden Yards.

Some of the offices, having been in use all night during and after the game, were still empty as noon approached. A volunteer, Keith Rawlinson, checked his watch and stifled a yawn.

"I haven't been to bed since Monday morning," he said. "I'm going home and crash -- but not for long. I told Bud Freeman I'd help him at the Baysox game tonight."

That's the way the past week has gone.

Thanks to teamwork and cooperation from the Orioles staff, the city, the state, Major League Baseball, numerous volunteers and the media, Baltimore was able to distinguish itself in playing host to this All-Star Game.

There had been 63 games before, but never one like this game. This was bigger than a game. This was an extravaganza that lasted nearly a week.

"It was bigger than anyone thought it would be," said a smiling Larry Lucchino, the club's president and chief executive officer. Lucchino shook hands with some staff members and hugged others. The mood was that of a victory celebration.

The numbers tell the story. The game was attended by 48,147 and could have been sold out 10 times over. FanFest drew 111,883 wallet-emptying visitors.

The game brought an estimated $30 million into the local economy. A national TV audience of 100 million watched the game. Baltimore never looked so good.

It's little short of miraculous how the organizers were able to keep excitement high for days. Appearances by Michael Jordan, Tom Selleck, Bill Murray, Jim Belushi -- whew! There were many more celebrities and ex-big-league stars who joined the fun.

"Major League Baseball deserves the credit for that," said Julie Wagner, Orioles director of community services. "Of course, the ballclub had to approve what they did. But Major League Baseball contacted the celebrities and brought them here."

A big man stepped out in the hall. It was Calvin Hill, an Orioles vice president. He was smiling, too.

"Let's do it again," said Hill, who is better known for his ball-carrying days at Yale and with the Cowboys and Redskins. You can bet on one thing: Baltimore won't have to wait 35 years for another All-Star Game.

The game goes to Pittsburgh next year, to Texas in '95. Baseball will want to show off new ballparks in Texas and Cleveland, just as it showed off Camden Yards. The expansion franchises in Colorado and Florida will want All-Star Games.

But the lords of baseball will want to come back here as soon as it's practical. The game was done too well here for them not to hurry back.

What happened here also impressed the lords of the NFL, who will vote on expansion this fall. They see Baltimore as a place that can get things done.

In an event of the magnitude of an All-Star Game, there are going to be snags. We had a few.

There was the booing of the Toronto players during the pre-game introductions. Ordinarily I don't like booing. For some reason, this amused me.

The people here resent Toronto manager Cito Gaston's adding four of his Blue Jays to the three selected by the fans. Nowhere on the squad were Gregg Olson or Chris Hoiles -- or Mickey Tettleton. Boo, Cito!

Cito goofed in pitching his own Duane Ward in the ninth instead of the home team's Mike Mussina. Boo, Cito!

The fans' vulgar chant directed at Gaston at that point -- "Cito [blanks]" -- went over the line. Boo, Baltimore fans.

But, hey -- this intensifies the Orioles-Blue Jays rivalry. It was exciting to see the fire in the fans. Spectators leaving the Yards after the game were heard talking about Toronto's next visit here on the final weekend of the season.

What baseball needs to do is relieve All-Star managers of the responsibility of filling out the squads. With so many players having contract clauses giving them an additional $50,000 to $100,000 for making the All-Star team, there will always be a temptation for the manager to select his own players.

But what memories!

Cal Ripken's receiving a tremendous ovation on being introduced. "I've had a lot of good things happen in my career. But this has to be No. 1," he said.

A batted ball getting stuck in the left-field wall.

John Kruk's totally human reaction to Randy Johnson's pitch 6 feet over his head.

Said Kruk: "I'm a Phillie. I don't play for the National League. The Phillies open a series in San Diego Thursday. It's important for me to be there."

Fun time is over. Tonight, everybody gets serious again.

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