For O's fans rich and not, price is right

Whether marked way up or at face value, tickets are good buy on Opening Day

April 03, 2001|By Kimberly A. C. Wilson | Kimberly A. C. Wilson,SUN STAFF

What is a good seat worth on Opening Day at Camden Yards?

There were as many answers at yesterday's season opener between the Orioles and the Boston Red Sox as there were fans -- 46,547 in all, some thrifty, some rash.

To a trio of ninth-grade fans from Park Heights enjoying the chilly first day of spring break, good seats are worth about $15 and a several-hour wait.

To a pair of legal aides, fine seats with an up-close view of Cal Ripken are worth exactly $30 apiece. To an online bidder, two great seats are worth $157 -- $2 more than the unlucky bidder she beat out.

Alex M. Macenski and Patti M. Jette, both 27 and from Arlington, Va., were willing to part with $100 for a pair of $11 tickets high in left field for a chance to watch the Orioles topple the Red Sox, 2-1.

"It's the best of the worst," Macenski quipped. "I probably could have gotten a better price, but I didn't feel like haggling."

Valerie A. Miller, 30, of Joppatowne, and Amee R. Harper, 24, of Kingsville, braved football weather to purchase $13 tickets at the ballpark early in the morning.

They were among the luckiest fans able to snag about 900 last-minute face-value tickets from the box office without haggling.

But Miller and Harper were willing to spend another few hours waiting in the brisk wind for a chance to upgrade from upper-deck seats behind home plate to a pair of $30 seats right above the Boston dugout. They bought those from a seller in the scalp-free zone, then sold the cheaper tickets at face value.

"It's all about patience," said Harper.

Patience, yes. And planning.

Skip Baylor, a civilian who works in the Montgomery County Police Department, is a season-ticket holder who started making plans for The Big Day after his son, Kyle, mentioned he'd never been to Opening Day.

"I don't mean to sound hokey about this, but I took my son out of school today. He's a great student, and he said to me, `Dad, I've never been.' We had to come," said Baylor, 50, of Columbia.

Back home, Kyle's twin sister, Lauren, attended fourth grade at St. Louis Catholic School in Clarksville. "It was too late for her to pretend to be a fan," joked Baylor. "But this is a nice father-son tradition."

Baylor, who volunteers as a Howard County Little League coach, snagged an Orioles batting-practice homer to center, rating a much-impressed look from Kyle.

"Priceless," said Baylor.

Nor was money an object to the Verstandigs of Washington. Mac Verstandig accompanied his mom, Nadine, and little brother Josh to his first Opening Day at Camden Yards.

A shivering Verstandig, tucking his bare hands into a leather-sleeved jacket, said the discomfort was worth it to make Josh, 11, happy.

"He is a diehard fanatic," said Verstandig, 16.

For those willing to pay any price for tickets, there were sellers willing to meet them.

Scott Jodon, 27, of Fells Point sold eight lower-box seats over the weekend on eBay -- and pocketed a cool $450.

One pair, leapfrogging in price from an opening bid of $5 Friday night, sold for $156.88 just after midnight Sunday. Thirteen bidders pushed the price of another pair to $139.73 during the same period.

He sold two other pairs for $75 and $80.

"Thank God for eBay!" he said after watching the game from a pair of seats he got for free from a friend. "My first two years I paid about $100 for Opening Day tickets, so I guess it's all fair."

As to be expected, the color orange was everywhere yesterday: in the corporate-friendly cardigan of a Camden Yards front office worker; in the embroidery of a pale handkerchief spotted hanging from the pocket of a Baltimore police officer working the game; in the dyed beard and mustache of an Orioles fanatic.

But not everyone showed their orange and black pride with green. Even "The Birdman," an Anne Arundel County man who calls himself the Orioles' biggest fan, stuck to his budget when it came time for Opening Day.

He bought an $18 ticket.

Attired as a warmly dressed bird, in an Orioles turtleneck, Orioles sweater and Orioles windbreaker over an Orioles uniform, Orioles sneakers and wearing a pair of orange and black hand puppets of -- you guessed it -- Orioles, George A. Fuhrer, aka "The Birdman," said he was born to love the team.

"My mother was in labor when my father was listening to the game. Her water broke and he wouldn't go to the hospital until it was over," said Fuhrer, 46. "That's where I get my Orioles tradition from."

Sun staff writer Allison Klein contributed to this article.

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