O's wanted to spare city All-Star flops? Sorry, that talk just doesn't ring true

Phil Jackman

July 15, 1993|By Phil Jackman

Reading Time: Two Minutes.

You've read about it a few times, perhaps heard about it on national television and maybe there was even a plane dragging a sign to the effect that the Orioles had passed up the chance to play host to the All-Star Game a couple of times.

Lately, of course, they would have been waiting for the dawning of the new ballpark. But the excuse that previous "turns" in the '60s and '70s were passed up because the team wanted to save the city the embarrassment of not selling out just doesn't ring true here. What's more embarrassing than admitting you have no more faith in your buying public than that?

True, every seat wasn't sold for World Series and playoff action during the 1966-1974 era, just the ones that offered the seat holder a reasonable view of what was happening on the field. But I don't recall the club ever suggesting its postseason games be switched to neutral sites to save us the embarrassment of not filling those obstructed-view beauties.

To tell you the truth, I think the Birds were woefully understaffed, often placing great reliance on volunteer help and, most importantly, they didn't see all the work involved in playing host to the game being worth it. What they call a business decision.

The O's weren't big on marketing and promotion in those days and waited years before computerizing the ticket department. Imagine passing up the All-Star Game and the possibilities for ticket-plan tie-ins and publicity. Good thing that then-Mayor Don Schaefer didn't get wind of this rebuff.

It's pretty well agreed Baltimore jumped from a nickel-and-dime town to a dollar berg, baseball-wise, when folks started showing up in droves during those "Oriole Magic" days of 1979. Do you suppose the owner, the late Edward Bennett Williams, balked at taking the game because he feared it wouldn't sell out? Come on. All the more reason to move to Washington, right?

Methinks expansion, the opening of new parks in Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Anaheim, Calif., Seattle and Kansas City, Mo., celebrations like the 100th anniversary of baseball and the bicentennial got the game away from the original rotation system and, to put it indelicately, just plain laziness led to Baltimore falling by the wayside.

What an insult, our beloved Orioles not having the faith in us to load up Memorial Stadium. Does anyone remember the four-game set with Milwaukee at the end of the 1982 season, or that unforgettable five-game series against the Yankees?

* The British Open, begun today with a 2:15 a.m. (EDT) tee time, should be a ball for the next four days, the usually wind-swept Royal St. George's Golf Club on the shores of the North Sea being rock hard because of semi-drought. But the players never complain about conditions there, do they? Strange.

* Convinced that collectors will purchase anything, literally, it's probably a good idea Pro Set has of producing a set of cards that parody some of today's stars. At the top of the line are Cal Ripkenwinkle, E. T. McGee, Ken Spoiffy Jr., Fred McGruff, Scary Sheffield, Don Battingly, Cow Belle, Roger Clemency, Tommy Lasagna, Darryl Razzberry, Lose Piniella, Monster Truk and Marquis Gruesome. Sounds to me if the set becomes a big seller, ESPN's Chris Berman might have a case.

* What was it, about the sixth inning when the National League's performance Tuesday night began reminding of the NHL All-Star charade: No hitting and no defense?

* Why on earth did Donald Fehr, head of the baseball players' union, feel a need to say, "I'm not being provocative" when hours before perhaps the most joyous All-Star Game ever he threatened a strike sometime Labor Day weekend? Provocative means to tend to provoke action, thought or feeling, and as we all know the threat of strike never does such things, does it?

* Ever since Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said, "I don't care what anybody says, Navy is going to have one of the finest teams in the nation next season" a while back, it has been difficult taking anything he says seriously. However, Lou's on the right track when he says it's time for a playoff in college football. Why delay the inevitable any longer?

* There's a smart, slick new magazine out entitled The Diamond, and Volume 1 is a treasure trove of stories about when baseball was a game, to coin a phrase. Sure to be popular is a feature entitled "There Used To Be A Ballpark," in which noted players talk about the places that no longer exist. The June issue has Bobby Shantz talking about Shibe Park in Philadelphia from its most glorious moments to the day when only 18 fans showed up.

* It probably came as no surprise to you when word was passed down that Grant Connell and Patrick Gailbraith had arrived at the No. 3 spot in men's doubles after putting forth a valiant effort before losing the doubles crown at Wimbledon to Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde. After all, these lads had been household names for years.

* What do you mean the exercise video market is saturated? Not according to Sugar Ray Leonard. Together with super model Jill Goodacre, Ray will have a one-hour fitness/boxing program on the shelf next month. With any luck, you too may be offered a fight with Roberto Duran.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.