When I first heard the deal -- a 900 number to vote on a resting place for Eddie Murray's 500th home run ball, with all proceeds from calls going to the pediatric cancer program at Johns Hopkins Hospital -- I thought: That's nice, but good luck. I'm no psychic, but I couldn't see many people reaching for the phone on this one. I mean, as an issue of public debate, Eddie Ball just didn't burn with Fat Elvis-vs.-Skinny Elvis excitement.
And evidently it doesn't. Not so far.
In the two weeks since the 900 number was announced, fewer than 2,800 calls (2,779, as of noon yesterday) have been made. At 95 cents per call, that comes to $2,640 in a campaign with a goal of $1 million.
Here's how the vote breaks down: 845 callers want the ball to be exhibited at the Babe Ruth Museum; 774 want it to go to Cooperstown; 763 want it to go to Murray (my choice); and 397 calls have been placed by people just curious about the running totals.
This fund-raiser was the brainchild of Mike Lasky, the millionaire behind the Psychic Friends Network and the man who put up $500,000 (an annuity that actually cost him $300,000) for Murray's landmark home run ball. On Sept. 24, when he received the ball from the guy who'd snatched it at Camden Yards, Lasky announced the establishment of the 900 number and his campaign to raise money for the cancer center. Publicity for the campaign has been limited, though the number, 900-835-BALL, was published in USA Today and broadcast locally. Trishana Bowden, assistant development director for Hopkins oncology, says the Lasky Foundation and MCI have assured the hospital that all proceeds from the calls will go to the pediatric cancer program.
But this campaign is going slowly.
Maybe Mike Lasky should just write another check.
'Grease' is the word
Remember when Kelly Ripken presented her husband with a leather "Grease" jacket during last year's long infield party after Cal tied the Gehrig record for consecutive games? "Grease" is No. 8's favorite Broadway musical. So when the show came to Baltimore to play the Mechanic, we figured the Ripkens would try to squeeze in a matinee. But when? Kelly found an opening -- Sunday, between the Orioles' knockout of the Indians and their trip to New York for the playoffs. With the Ripkens in the house, VTC Sally Struthers and other cast members changed some of the dialogue to acknowledge Cal and the Orioles, to the great pleasure of the audience. The Ripkens and their kids got to go backstage and try on some costumes, to the great pleasure of the cast, which made quite a fuss.
Here's to the schnooks
A nuts-about-football fan wants to give high-fives to the Ravens for doing something for "schnooks like me" who paid $35, plus a $4 service charge, for seats behind the poles in the lower deck, Section 35, at Memorial Stadium. "They put a TV monitor behind every pole! Instant replay, and you could see all the obstructed action!"
Turn on the heat
It happens almost every year: The temperature falls sharply in early October and the people who live in public housing have to put up with chilly nights because the city Housing Authority doesn't turn on the heat until the 15th. We received a call the other day from Scott Frantz, who says his grandmother's apartment at Primrose Place, a high-rise for the elderly on South Caton Avenue, was 50 degrees. Frantz says building management suggested grandma turn on her electric oven to warm the place up. Great.
Away with words
The Baltimore City Council took only 20 minutes to get through all its business Monday; it took only about 40 minutes last week. Observers used to Monday marathons are in shock. What's up? One thing to consider is the Stukes Factor. Sixth District Councilman Melvin Stukes is known for getting on the council floor and talking forever; some of his council colleagues and spectators leave the room when he speechifies. But, for the last two weeks, Melvin has been mum, and the chamber crackled with applause when he announced he had nothing to say.