Purple, orange don't go together

September 01, 1997|By John Eisenberg

A minute-by- minute review of Baltimore's Super Sunday, encompassing two games, two sports, two stadiums -- and two very different crowds.

1: 05 p.m.: Soothing new-age music plays as another sellout crowd files into Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The first pitch of the Orioles-Mets game is a half-hour away, followed by the kickoff of the Ravens-Jaguars game at Memorial Stadium 2 1/2 hours after that.

1: 13: Results of an eyeball poll on the Eutaw Street corridor: thousands of shirts and caps in the Orioles' black and orange, dozens in the Mets' blue and orange, almost none in the Ravens' purple (and one "Keep Brady in Baltimore").

1: 16: Will Servance, 34, stands in a concession line wearing an Orioles shirt and Ravens cap.

"I have tickets to both games today," he says. "I'll get to the Ravens if this goes fast." (Good luck: Saturday's Orioles game lasted almost four hours.)

He is asked: What's the difference between an Orioles crowd and a Ravens crowd?

"Ravens crowds aren't as passionate yet," says Servance, a driver for a Baltimore office supply compa

ny. "Like me, I'm an Oriole fan, born and raised. I also support the Ravens and I'm glad football is back, but it's not the same yet. The Ravens haven't been here that long."

1: 24: Rick Dempsey, Davey Johnson and Harry Dalton are inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony, illustrating the fundamental difference between the city's two franchises: One has a tradition; the other just pulled into town. (At this point, a Ravens Hall of Fame would include Quentin Neujahr.)

4 2: 31: Beeper sighting, Oriole Park, Section 38.

2: 44: James Sharpe, a Baltimore city police sergeant, stands in an alleyway discussing the difference between baseball and football crowds.

"Football crowds are rowdy when the game starts," he says. "They have been drinking and tailgating for hours, and they're ready for some action. If the game doesn't go well, look out. With baseball, the people start sober or, at least, nearly sober. It's more good-natured."

Sharpe says he knows veteran officers who put in regularly for baseball duty but won't touch football.

"There's a lot more for us to do at football games," he says. "People come out [of the stadium] drunk and can't find their car or the bus they came in on or whatever. I remember a guy from Glen Burnie who got on the wrong bus, passed out and woke up in Philadelphia.

"Basically, you just hope there are enough designated drivers."

2: 48: The Orioles are down 4-0, but the park is clean, the corridors are wide, the fans are tasteful and it's another Sunday at the church of Orioles baseball.

2: 57: A car carrying a Sun reporter leaves Oriole Park, travels through the couch-potato-free zone of Sunday strollers at the Inner Harbor, motors up Calvert Street and arrives at Memorial Stadium.

The trip covers some five miles, but it might as well be 5,000 miles.

It's the same city, but a different world.

3: 21: Across 33rd Street, in the parking lot by old Eastern High School, hundreds of fans tailgate by their cars. The smell of barbecue smoke and the sound of rock music dominate the air.

Eyeball poll II results: thousands of black Ravens shirts and caps, almost none in the Orioles' orange and black.

Are we really still in Baltimore?

3: 31: Hard hat sighting, front parking lot, Memorial Stadium.

3: 59: The football crowd roars the trademark "O" for Orioles in the national anthem. Maybe it's the same city, after all.

4: 01: The theme from "Pulp Fiction" and Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" push the crowd to a frenzy as the opening kickoff nears.

Orioles games are "The Lawrence Welk Show" by comparison.

4: 18: Cellular phone sighting, upper concourse, Memorial Stadium. Get lost, pal?

4: 26: The Jaguars drive 93 yards for a touchdown to take a 14-0 lead.

The score is not announced at Oriole Park.

(The scores of all the NFL games have been shown occasionally on a scoreboard throughout the day.)

4: 33: The Orioles go quietly in the ninth inning and lose, 4-1.

The score is not announced at Memorial Stadium.

4: 48: Three of the four TV sets in the Orioles' clubhouse are tuned to the Yankees-Expos game. The other is tuned to the Broncos-Chiefs game.

5: 01: Two of the clubhouse sets are switched to the Ravens' game.

6: 05: Escaping the no-smoking edict in the stadium bowl, hundreds of fans mill around the concourses as the Ravens try to protect a 24-21 lead.

Call it the World's Largest Bar.

Dennis Francioli, owner of C&R Paint Supply in Baltimore, watches the milling from behind sunglasses. He has season tickets to both of Baltimore's teams.

"I came here today because it's the season opener and football is back and I love football," he said. "Football is part of Baltimore. I just wish we had the old name back."

The difference between an Orioles game and a Ravens game?

"Oriole games are big business," he said. "There's a lot of suits and ties out there. Here, there's more of a mixed crowd. More camaraderie. It's a more fun time here, absolutely."

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