Ballpark's boiling, blistering bleacher bums Baseball fans sizzle in relentless heat

July 17, 1995|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Marcia Myers contributed to this article.

The hottest tickets in town this weekend were in the bleachers.

Faithful fans in the outfield seats at Oriole Park at Camden Yards sweltered in the heat that broke records Saturday and continued to simmer yesterday.

Keeping cool? Everybody had a method.

Women wore bikini tops and men shucked their shirts. Lemonade and beer sales were brisk. The Orioles did their part, giving first aid to a dozen fans overcome by the heat and serving free ice and ice water.

Just before the start of the 1:35 sellout game against Kansas City, stadium announcer Rex Barney told the crowd that the temperature was 93 degrees -- plenty hot to bake fans in uncovered sections.

Shirtless, Eric Barger came to the front-row bleacher seats in Section 90 with his equally bare-chested friends to spell "C-A-L" on their bodies. The letters, drawn with felt-tip markers, had become a blur by the fifth inning.

"We're sweating the letters right off," said Mr. Barger, 19, of Pasadena shortly after muffing the catch on Rafael Palmeiro's fourth-inning home run.

But Mr. Barger, who retrieved the home-run ball, said the weather had improved since Saturday night's game, which he also attended. "Last night was worse because the air was thick and stale. You could smell it," he said. "It was like ash."

Cooler temperatures and a cloud cover yesterday brought some relief. So did an occasional breeze that swept like "the wave" across the seats and kept the shaded main concourse considerably more comfortable.

But it would take an air-conditioned room to cool off Kristina Persson, a native of Sweden living in upstate New York. "I live 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle, and this is quite a big difference," said Ms. Persson, 27, who was visiting Baltimore with friends.

L Despite the heat, she said, "I'm having a really good time."

Pat Davis, 34, of Indian Head grabbed a cup of free ice water, took off his cap and poured the contents on his head.

"That was pretty breathtaking," he said, looking either exhilarated or numbed. "That was like stepping into a cold

shower."

The Oriole Bird fluttered for cover, limiting the time he spent in the stands entertaining the 45,324 fans. The Bird, alias Alan Gimbel, took more breaks than usual and drank lots of fluids, said team spokesman John Maroon.

Some fans left the game early to beat traffic. Others took off to beat the heat. David Bender of Bethesda said his son, Jake, 7, couldn't take the hot temperatures any more.

"I was hot. Really hot," said Jake, who left shortly after his hero, Cal Ripken Jr., hit a two-run homer that gave the Orioles a 3-0 lead.

The first-aid station had its busiest weekend of the season, treating nearly three dozen people overcome by the heat during the Saturday and Sunday games. An auxiliary room had to be opened for the overflow Saturday, when about 20 people were treated, including two who were transferred to University of Maryland Medical Center before being released.

Nurses said they dispensed Gatorade and ice water, applied cold wet towels to necks and foreheads, checked patients' vital signs and let them rest.

"Most times we suggest that once they're feeling better, they get home and out of the heat," said Pat Lavezza, head nurse.

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