Some fans leave autograph session empty-handed

August 14, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

Rafael Palmeiro could have stayed a little longer at an autograph-signing session yesterday, said one of the disappointed fans who was locked out of a chance to get the Orioles infielder's signature.

After all, said Catonsville resident Roy Stinebaugh, "It ain't like he's got to work today."

Mr. Palmeiro signed autographs for two hours yesterday at Antwerpen Dodge in Randallstown, but left to a chorus of boos from people who were cut off after standing in the line, which was a block long, for an average of about two hours.

Several said they would have left earlier if organizers had told them they were unlikely to make the cutoff.

Some collectors said the baseball players' strike that began Friday didn't affect their quests for autographs. Others saw a silver lining: Idle players may have more time for signing baseballs or photographs.

"The players are greedy," said Harvey Gruntman, a mortgage banker from Owings Mills.

So, why was he standing in line?

"I'm an autograph collector," he said. "One thing doesn't have anything to do with the other."

Stanford D. Hess, attorney for dealership owner Jacob Antwerpen, said the dealership expected 800 people for the event, but got nearly 2,000. He said fans should have realized they might be too far back in line to get an autograph.

"This is a free autograph. You take your chances," Mr. Hess said.

Mr. Palmeiro could not stay longer because he had to catch a plane for Texas, said his marketing agent, Susan B. Kollinger.

"Rafael, more than anyone else, will bend over backward to accommodate fans," she said.

Mr. Palmeiro was to sign autographs from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. He arrived 15 minutes late, but stayed until 12:15 p.m.

Antwerpen manager Arie Spigel said he had told people at the rear of the line that Mr. Palmeiro would be followed by Frank Robinson, Orioles assistant general manager, who had contracted to autograph keepsakes from noon to 2 p.m.

Mr. Spigel said he was unaware that a separate line of Robinson autograph-seekers had been formed.

Organizers attempted to smooth the situation over by moving fans who had been locked out at the end of Mr. Palmeiro's session to the front of Mr. Robinson's line.

Olney residents Mark Janney and Mike Kiefner, both police officers, assured themselves of an autograph by arriving at the dealership at 6 a.m. "Anthem Annie," as one newspaper dubbed Columbia resident Donna M. Greenwald, waited in the air-conditioned showroom with her 1-year-old daughter, Rebecca Dawn, while her husband, Gary, stood in line for Mr. Palmeiro's autograph.

Ms. Greenwald, who plans to sing the national anthem at every baseball stadium in the United States, said the strike won't stop her.

She said she'll be singing in Detroit's Tiger Stadium next week as scheduled. "If I have to sing to an empty stadium, I will," she said.

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