In Baltimore's financial zone Money: Lawyers, stockbrokers try to distract themselves as the bull market belly-flops

The Buzz

September 02, 1998|By Richard O'Mara | Richard O'Mara,SUN STAFF

The big buzz in Baltimore's financial district yesterday, as expected, was of money. Losing it, mainly, on the stock market, and possibly a little on the slugfest between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

As both men try to trump Roger Maris in baseball's hallowed record book, James Loftus reported "friendly bets" being made among the 80 to 90 people who work at his law firm, Friedman and MacFadyen. He made one himself. Not a "real" money bet, you understand.

If McGwire racks up more homers than Sosa by season's end, his friend has agreed to pay his way to the Orioles game in Boston on Sept. 25. If McGwire loses, he has to take his friend to a Penn State game in October. He's rooting for McGwire.

"McGwire I think will come out on top," Loftus says, with more hope than certainty. "He has more home games than Sosa."

But Loftus is a lawyer, not a stockbroker or other sort of laborer in the city's financial vineyard, such as it is. As the stock market implodes, lawyers can spend their leisure moments talking about whatever they want to, baseball or, say, Monica and Bill ("The staff's about evenly divided on that question," Loftus says). This isn't their crisis: It belongs to their stockbroker colleagues in and around Redwood Street, a very tense place these days.

Stockbrokers are like normal people in many ways. They talk about more than money. Groups of them, in fact, have been known to come into Werner's Restaurant on Redwood and talk baseball or tennis, or the care of sailboats and high-powered automobiles.

But yesterday, said Vicki Dee, part-time waitress and celebrated Baltimore entertainer, "All they talked about was being on the phone trying to protect people's money."

Madeline Morley Bayard has a theory. She does hair -- the hair of stockbrokers and lawyers and such -- in the Clark-Morley Salon, next to Werner's. "When the market was good," she said, "they talked about it. When it was bad, they stopped talking about it."

That wasn't the case at Werner's. And not at the Calvert Deli on the corner of Calvert and Redwood, either, where all of Aaroni Shinyder's customers "are talking about the stock market." Shinyder is as glum as a broker himself; he's losing money, but not on the market or baseball bets.

"We need a boost," he says. "We need more customers. We're a very unique deli. We got Reubens. We got personal pizzas ..."

Seems there's not much foot traffic around Redwood these days; the street's in a nosedive.

Pub Date: 9/02/98

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