One of the 12,460 come to see the Baysox play...


August 14, 1993

MEMO FROM one of the 12,460 come to see the Baysox play here this week:

From the outside, good old Memorial Stadium looked the same as ever, a Fifties coliseum, ungainly and massive, a pleasant memory from a time hazy and fading. It felt good to be back, to be visiting the old neighborhood and looking anew at the rowhouses of Waverly and Eastern High on its hill.

This was a big night, a record crowd to watch the Bowie Baysox battle the Canton-Akron Indians and, far more important, to see how Orioles ace Mike Mussina would do in his first outing on a rehab assignment to the minors.

Once inside the stadium, the change from glossy Oriole Park at )) Camden Yards came with a jot. The old ballpark looked its age, its concrete columns graying, its seats hard metal and cramped and the upper deck, closed to fans, a brooding, vast semi-circle. One wondered if the ghost of Wild Bill Hagy was up there in Section 34 contorting through his O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheer.

Down below was a crowd distinguished by a huge profusion of little boys wearing baseball hats, gloves at the ready for the foul ball that never comes and licking away at soft ice creams cones twirled tippily. Beer was available for the fathers, grandfathers and occasional moms, but this was a real ice cream minor league crowd of the kind you find out in Frederick and Hagerstown.

As for Mr. Mussina, he took his trademark deep-forward bend before each pitch but probably was taking care not to hurt his back. His performance was less than magnificent -- two runs, four hits, two innings. But it must have been a thrill for the Canton-Akron batsmen to hit him.

Fans understood. Everyone just wanted him to get back in shape.

This was an early-leaving crowd. By the third inning, it was getting past bedtime for some of the little tykes and a slow exodus began. The Baysox were down 7-0 at the time, and no one could know they woul come back to win 9-8. What was known, thanks to a fuzzy public address system, was that the Big Birds were losing badly to Detroit.

As evening deepened, it was time for a sad and happy trip home: 10 years ago it was World Series time at Memorial Stadium. Never again.

* * *

SURELY more folks will be out celebrating on Monday than Thursday next week: Monday marks the 16th anniversary of Elvis Presely's death, while Thursday marks the 47th birthday of Bill Clinton -- one of the King's biggest fans.

But that's the way it is in our icon-crazed society. Elvis, alive or dead, remains a huge cultural icon.

Why not jet down to Memphis today for the Elvis Presley International 5K Race at Graceland? Closer to home, Virginia Baker's crew sponsors its annual Elvis Presley celebration at the Broadway Market on Monday from noon to 1. Who knows? Even the King himself might show up -- incognito, of course.

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