Dean Prager has been sitting directly behind the left-field wall at Orioles games ever since Camden Yards opened four years ago. He has always respected where his space ends and the field of play begins.
Never, Prager said, has he even considered reaching over the wall and pulling in a ball to help his beloved Orioles.
Last night, though, Prager was out for revenge.
"I'll take the guy's glove out of his hands," the Annapolis insurance salesman said before the game. "I'd be escorted out of here, and I'd say thank you [to the usher]. And you know the worst part? I'd be cheered."
That's how the crowd at Yankee Stadium reacted when Jeff Maier, 12, reached out to deflect a ball away from Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco in Game 1.
Perhaps mindful of the home-field advantage enjoyed by the Yankees in New York, the fans at Camden Yards last night seemed louder and more raucous than they had been all year. That regular-season stuff -- when New Yorkers would come here and open Yankee Stadium South -- was a fading memory lost in the din of the playoffs.
Yes, there were brazen Yankees fans wearing their colors. But they were constantly greeted with derisive chants as they walked through the park and ran into packs of locals.
"They're threatening lives. They're telling us to go back to New York," said Tami Youngswick, 21, who was wearing a Yankees cap and who came to the game with three other Yankees fans.
Even Brian Butler of the Bronx was drowned out. He wore a Yankees jersey and a hat that read, "Live Hard."
"I've been yelled at. I don't care," Butler said before the game. "I'll whip their [butt]."
The Butler-Youngswick party got its tickets through a variety of sources. Ross Mallor, a New Yorker attending American University in Washington and wearing an orange T-shirt with a derisive phrase about the Orioles, said he waited in line in Baltimore while his father and brother lined up in New York. The result -- tickets to seven scheduled playoff games.
But last night Camden Yards belonged to Orioles fans.
And for the most part they were simply loud. Baltimore police reported no major incidents or fights. Ushers and police escorted about 25 fans from the stadium for disorderly conduct.
"I think people are drinking a lot to stay warm," said Sgt. Debbie Owens, working in the police command center. But, she added, "it's been a pretty quiet game considering it's Yankees fans."
The biggest problem involved counterfeit tickets. As many as 200 fake tickets were sold by scalpers outside the stadium, charging from $35 to $375, police said. When the actual ticket holders arrived to take their upper-deck seats, the fans with fake tickets had to leave the stadium.
Among the fans to go were Yankees fans Ben Richmond and Eric Weinstein. Richmond said he paid $100 for his ticket. "We all scalped tickets," Richmond said.
Stadium officials were able to recognize the tickets by rubbing away the ink, and police warned fans to be wary of counterfeit tickets at future games.
Pub Date: 10/12/96