The Cub Reporter

April 03, 2001|By Rob Hiaasen

First, the rookie sportswriter found his seat - No. 118 in the press box. Second, the rookie found the clubhouse, where he'd need to go after the game. Third, he found where they scroll out the free hot dogs.

Now the rookie in the necktie - chomping on his nails like they were sunflower seeds - needed a great game to complete his first Opening Day.

Oh, to be 24 and parked behind home plate and watching Oriole Jerry Hairston double in the bottom of the 11th inning with the score 1-1. To be Greg Caldwell of Dundalk, free-lancing for the East County Times weekly newspaper, armed with his Baseball Scorebook from WalMart and a Tuesday deadline.

A substitute teacher in Baltimore County, Caldwell plans to cover about 15 games for the newspaper this season. "After subbing all last week at Perry Hall Middle School, this is a breeze," he said. "It's better than I expected - except colder."

Caldwell was one of roughly 600 accredited journalists covering the Orioles' 10th Opening Day at Camden Yards. He was one of perhaps one who planned to keep his press pass as a souvenir.

Like the rest of the sportswriters, Caldwell had to wait for a lead to his story. At 6:03 p.m., Hairston doubled. "All right!" Caldwell said, failing to remain journalistically neutral. Then a familiar face, Brady Anderson, stuck his feet in the batter's box. "Brady's due," Caldwell said.

When the crowd and fireworks exploded, Caldwell simply scribbled in his notebook: 2-1. His front-page story will appear Thursday in his hometown newspaper.

Without clutching, the rookie scrambled down to the clubhouse to get his post-game interviews.

He knew the way.

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