Better to be in left field than left out OPENING DAY '94

April 05, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

On a festive, sun-splashed afternoon when Opening Day revitalized Baltimore once again, there was hardly a complaint to be heard at Camden Yards.

Even in that Death Valley section of seats, the infamous chairs down the left-field line that face toward center, Orioles fans were quick to forgive.

"I hate to knock Camden Yards," said Mac McCauley of Crofton, "because it's a great ballpark. I wish they could fix these seats, but I'm not going to hold it against them."

As luck and the Orioles' lottery would have it, McCauley watched yesterday's opener from Section 70, the lower-box seats with extremely poor sightlines pointing toward the center-field scoreboard. Looking toward home plate or the pitcher's mound can be hazardous to neck and back muscles.

Two years after Camden Yards opened, the Maryland Stadium Authority is attempting to fix the problem. It has launched an ambitious plan to replace 3,204 seats in six sections down the left- and right-field lines with chairs that are angled 11 degrees toward the infield.

Unfortunately for McCauley, 14 rows of seats in Section 70 were angled for the opener. He was in the 15th row.

"If I had season tickets here, I'd probably ask to be moved at the first opportunity," he said. "But on Opening Day or the All-Star Game, you're just happy to get tickets."

Brian Mohr of Washington said he visits Camden Yards 10 to 12 times a season, but this was his first stint in Section 70, where he had two $12 tickets courtesy of a friend.

"I'm not impressed," he said. "If I had season tickets here, I think it would bother me a little."

Mohr said he had been forewarned. "I heard these seats were the worst in the stadium, that you couldn't see the infield, that they had turned them toward the infield. [But] they didn't do a lot of turning."

Mohr's sister, Joan, down from New York for the day, summed up the seat situation this way: "It's Opening Day, so you can't complain."

George Beall and E. J. Mellendick of Baltimore have a 13-game season-ticket package for seats on the club level in left field. Yesterday, because of the lottery, they were in Section 70, and not minding the view. "I don't see that it's all that bad," Beall said.

Paul Coon of Laurel and two friends were placed in Section 68 through the lottery. With a season-ticket package that puts him inside the foul pole in left for 13 games, this was a temporary inconvenience.

"I figure it's only one game, [I'll] go with it," Coon said. "No sense fighting it."

John Winans of Annapolis didn't have to fight it. A season-ticket holder all three years at Camden Yards, he moved from Row TT in Section 68 to Row AAA -- the front row -- in the section.

There, he doesn't have to crane his neck to see home plate or elevate himself to see over heads.

"It's the equivalent of a first-class seat on an airline," Winans said.

But when the Orioles installed two rows of seats in front of Winans for last year's All-Star Game, he was nonplused. "All of a sudden, people from coach were flooding up front through first class, going to the bathroom," he said. "And I thought I had a first-class ticket."

Winans said he understands there are plans to put those two rows in permanently next year. But that headache will have to wait. This was Opening Day.

"It's a sunny day, we've got a great ballclub," he said. "There's no snow to shovel. Life is good."

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