Cost of cheering is high for O's fan

April 08, 1994|By Kevin Cowherd

According to an independent marketing publication that keeps track of such things, a typical family of four attending an Orioles game will spend $104.96 on average tickets, two small beers, four hot dogs, four soft drinks and a few souvenirs.

To find out how much money two people could blow, I took my son to see the Orioles play the Royals the other night.

As we neared the ballpark, a man in a white windbreaker suddenly threw himself on the hood of my car.

I slammed on the brakes and he tumbled hard to the ground, then bounced right up.

"That'll be five bucks," he said.

"Five bucks!" I said. "But you . . ."

"The five bucks is for parking," he said.

I remember in the old days, parking lots would have some old geezer waving a red flag out front to attract business.

Now they're apparently becoming much more aggressive and hiring Hollywood stunt men.

Anyway, between the tickets, which were $16, and the parking, I was out more than 20 bucks already. And we hadn't even walked through the turnstiles yet.

Our seats were in the lower deck, way down the left-field line. Way, way down the left-field line. It was like watching the game from Kentucky.

We had a nice view of Brady Anderson's sideburns, if you like that sort of thing. But Ben McDonald, the Orioles 6-foot-7 right-hander, looked like a dwarf on the mound.

We were too far away to recognize any of the other players in the infield. It seemed to me that Cal Ripken was at short, but that was strictly a guess.

Sure enough, the whining started in the first inning when my son asked for a hot dog.

"Out of the question," I said. "A hot dog costs, like, $26. Here, chew on this napkin for a while."

But he kept bugging me about it, to the point where I couldn't concentrate on the game, which, since we were so far away, we watched on the little TV brought by the guy next to me.

So we went and bought two hot dogs, which set me back another $7. Then my son wanted mustard.

"Forget it," I said. "Mustard is probably four bucks here. And I'm running low on cash."

But you know how kids are -- he said he couldn't eat a hot dog without mustard.

So I said: "All right, we'll just steal the mustard. I'll create a diversion. You grab a few packets and we'll run like hell."

Which is what we did: I bumped into some kid in a Metallica T-shirt right in front of the cashier, my son grabbed some mustard, and we sprinted out of there before the cops came.

Later, someone told us the mustard was free. But I'd have to see that in writing before I believe it.

Anyway, by now my hands were shaking badly, so I bought a beer for me and a Coke for the kid, which cost another $6.

Then he asked for an Orioles cap. By now, though, I was out of money.

In a flash, it came to me: I would sell my watch!

The watch was a moderately-priced Seiko. Oh, sure, it had some sentimental value -- my mother had given it to me as a Christmas present many years ago.

But this was no time to get all misty-eyed over a keepsake. I made a mental note to tell mom I'd been mugged recently, just in case she ever asked where the watch went.

So we went out and hawked the watch on the main concourse, and finally I found some guy in a Harley-Davidson jacket who gave me 20 bucks for it, which was just enough for an O's cap ($15) and another beer for me.

My kid seemed to be eyeing a pack of Crackerjacks, but now I was broke again.

So I told him: "I know! I'll sell some blood! Assuming my veins don't collapse or I don't black out or get woozy and have to lie on a cot for a while, I should be back by the eighth inning."

But the boy said he was full, so we went back to our seats and watched the rest of the game on TV.

Anyway, I think the Orioles ended up winning, although it was very hard to tell because the guy with the TV kept changing channels to the Toronto-Chicago game. So maybe that was the White Sox who were celebrating.

Total cost of our trip to the ballpark: $54 plus a fairly nice watch.

We'll probably take in another game this year, assuming I land that second job on the loading dock.

It's not the greatest shift in the world, midnight to 8.

But you can't have everything.

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