Win a ball field, and even Boog Powell will show up

September 10, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

At dawn yesterday, the Orioles grounds crew was hard at work, cutting grass and painting lines on a baseball field.

Nearby, Boog Powell was cooking breakfast -- steak and eggs for the five members of the Sivert family at their Sykesville home.

The Siverts -- Sue, Dave and three children -- have no plans to compete with Camden Yards. Instead, they won an impromptu radio contest as the Orioles' biggest fans, at least of the 50 or so people who called the station.

The prize -- a miniature baseball field all their own.

So the Siverts found themselves meeting professional groundskeepers, a burly ex-first baseman, and familiar voices broadcasting oldies from their stable, as a hundred people who had heard about them on the air dropped by for a look.

About two weeks ago, when Steve Rouse, ringmaster of WQSR radio's "Rouse & Company," announced a "biggest Oriole fan" search -- some contestants told baseball tales on the air. The Siverts sang.

"We just made up new lyrics to 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame'," said Sue Sivert. The five Siverts joined voices again yesterday to repeat their winning lyrics, "Please, please come to Sykesville" into the microphones during the live broadcast in front of their stable.

Linda Workinger donned her Oriole usher uniform and joined the party on a morning "weather-perfect" for baseball. Visitors asked her if she had any scoop about the strike.

Ms. Sivert calls herself an ardent fan, who goes to Oriole Park whenever she can get tickets. She said she really misses the games and wishes the players would come back.

The contest also gave the Orioles grounds crew an excuse to show off its expertise, miles from Camden Yards, said Mr. Rouse. A little after dawn, the seven-man crew arrived with five pieces of landscaping equipment and plunged into the "most activity we have had since the strike," said Paul Zwaska, head groundskeeper. While the disc jockeys played the station's trademark "oldies," the grounds crew revved up mowers and weed cutters.

The workers mowed and trimmed the entire three acres, limed and raked a field into shape within a few hours and had a little time to play ball with the neighborhood children.

"If we build it, maybe the strike will end," Mr. Sivert said with a wistful reference to the line from the "Field of Dreams" film.

Dave Sivert said, "I'm getting my grass cut with live entertainment and free food. What more could I ask for?"

How about Boog Powell passing out charbroiled beef at a mobile version of his Camden Yards eatery, batting balls across the newly mown field to the kids, signing autographs and bantering with the radio team?

"What are you doing during the strike?" the disc jockey asked.

"Replacing Jim Palmer in the underwear ads," answered Mr. Powell.

Ron Appler, who heard the spot on the radio and dropped by the Sivert home, was drafted for an arm-wrestling contest with Mr. Powell. The Sykesville resident won handily, although the ballplayer competed with a handicap.

"Hey, Boog, you're left-handed, aren't you?" came a shout from the crowd.

Barbara Crouse, WQSR production manager, said the crew takes the show on the road once a month.

"We've done malls and cul-de-sacs, but this is the first barn," said Ms. Crouse. "Sue was a dream to work with. If we had told her we had to bulldoze the house to get in, she would have let us."

The three Sivert children arrived at their schools late but in style. A white stretch limo with sun roof, courtesy of the radio station, dropped them all off after the program.

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