Aerial proposal thrills crowd, fiancee-to-be She says yes after biplane pops the question over ballpark

August 02, 1993|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,Staff Writer

Sure, it was a perfect day for pop flies and popcorn, line drives and lemonade, for soaking up sunshine on that rarest of August afternoons when the air was dry and the temperature fine.

It was also a perfect time for a marriage proposal, right there at the ballpark. Section 14, First base line. Nine rows back.

Charles "Bud" Craven had it all figured out. The Canton resident had paid a pilot to drag a 125-foot banner over Oriole Park at Camden Yards at precisely 2:30 p.m. He had the ring. He had his girlfriend, Joan Chung, seated right beside him. He even had two friends to witness the event.

With about 15 minutes to go, Ms. Chung innocently got up from her seat to buy her boyfriend a hat. No matter, thought Mr. Craven. She'd return in plenty of time. But when the time drew perilously close, and she was still at large, Mr. Craven went searching. He found her wandering the concourse, lost.

They were back in their seats at 2:29, top of the fourth, when the crowd started crowing about something. It had nothing to do with Mo Vaughn, the Red Sox first baseman, who was waving his bat menacingly in the batter's box. Instead, all eyes were directed toward a biplane that had just appeared over the left field stands, towing a sign that read:

"*Joan Chung: Will You Marry Me? Bud Craven."

Within seconds, the couple were kissing passionately. Hundreds of people were on their feet, shaking their fists to the sky, impatiently urging Mr. Craven to ask the inevitable question.

The shouts grew so intense that the first base umpire strolled to the sidelines to see what was wrong. What he must have seen was the most innocent disturbance in baseball history.

Bud, 42, asked. Joan, 22, accepted. Someone in the crowd yelled, "Was that a yes?" The plane circled round and round. Bud displayed a neatly wrapped jewelry box. Joan opened it. She found a diamond engagement ring and slid it on.

Few in section 14 noticed that Mo Vaughn, who had crushed a mammoth home run Friday night, had lined lazily to right.

Once composed, Ms. Chung said she spotted her boyfriend's marriage proposal sailing in the sky as soon as it appeared. "I looked up," she said. "I always look up." She said her first thoughts were "how much I loved him."

Ms. Chung, who has lived in this country for four years, is a native of the Malaysian island of Borneo. She recently completed her degree at Towson State University, where she majored in communications.

Yesterday, Ms. Chung declared that they would honeymoon in Malaysia, so her fiance could see her homeland.

Mr. Craven said he became interested in biplane banners a few years ago while sitting on the sand in Ocean City, watching advertising banners fly across the sky. Last year, he hired Buddy Gnau of Bud's Biplanes to promote post-game deck parties at his restaurant.

If a banner can promote a party, why not a proposal?

The bride-to-be said the proposal took her by surprise, but the method was completely fitting. Their first encounter was last February when Mr. Craven, part-owner of the Bay Cafe in Canton, was jogging past Babusci's, a restaurant in Little Italy where Ms. Chung worked.

"She was setting tables in the glass window," he said. "We were probably 12 feet from one another. I stared at her. She stared at me." There was only one thing to do, he said. "I went back to the restaurant probably five hours later. We started talking. One thing led to another."

And Ms. Chung broke a rule.

"I promised myself, I'd never go out with a guy I met in a bar. But he was jogging by. That's different."

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