Infield remains in own world

90,000 follow different set of rules

Off the track

Preakness Stakes

May 20, 2007|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,Sun Reporter

Rodney Tibbs and good friend Marvin Hill had reached the point where they could no longer take hearing about the devilment that is the Preakness infield.

Wanting to see if reality would match the hype, the two drove from Calvert County at dawn yesterday, stopping briefly to buy a $150 camera. By midafternoon, Tibbs, 37, turned to Hill, 38, and posed, in essence, a rhetorical question.

"Man, is it always like this?" he asked.

In a word, yep.

As Tibbs and Hill learned, the rules of etiquette, and in some cases laws, are suspended for the 90,000 people who make up the infield.

There were the usual staples; the fistfights involving drunk 20-somethings , the women being hoisted in the air and flashing their breasts, the tens of thousands of crushed beer cans and, of course, the people who urinate in front of God and country.

But yesterday's infield, set for much of the afternoon under a sunny sky, an occasional breeze and temperature in the 70s, added another layer of lunacy. Person after person jumped on top of a row of portable toilets, which stretched about 40 long. Onlookers threw cans of open beer, water bottles, footballs and other things as the person attempted to run from one end to the other without getting knocked off.

The game went on for a good while.

"This place," said 25-year-old Drew Miller of New York City, who, for no apparent reason, was dressed as a penguin, "is all about expression."

Police said there were no major incidents, but some people were thrown out for fighting. As for first-timers Tibbs and Hill, they were no angels either. With his new camera around his neck, Tibbs asked every attractive woman whom he could stop if he could take her picture, but only if she had a tattoo.

One tattooless woman Tibbs stopped took exception, dumping a can of beer on his shirt after he told her to keep moving. Tibbs laughed.

"It will take a lot more than that to push me over the edge," he said. "But now I look like I'm drunk."

After taking a minute to regroup, Tibbs was back at it again, clicking away. Hill, looking over at his friend, said they would show off the photos back home. Hill said people where he lives talk about the infield, but few go.

"I'm going to pass the word along," he said.

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