Favorable judgment

Law school student Kevin Gracie enters Camden Yards with $6 in his pocket but becomes $50,000 richer after being the stadium's 50 millionth fan

Orioles

August 20, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun reporter

Kevin Gracie and four of his buddies met at Pickles Pub across the street from Camden Yards yesterday afternoon to wait out the long line at the ticket gate.

When they saw the crowd thin, they walked over to Gate H, spent two minutes in line, joking about jockeying for position.

Then, as he handed over his ticket, Gracie suddenly realized it would be an evening to remember.

He was presented with a $50,000 check and awarded two Orioles season tickets for the next five years as the 50 millionth fan in Camden Yards' 17-season history.

Not a bad day for a 24-year-old law school student from Ellicott City who has been attending Orioles games since he was in preschool.

"Fifty thousand is great; five years of season tickets is amazing," said Gracie, a second-year student at the University of Baltimore Law School. "I'll pay off some student loans and I get to go to games for years and bring some friends out."

Minutes after winning the award, Gracie addressed the media on the field like a seasoned pro, joking that he wanted to take off his sandals and dig his bare feet in the lush Camden Yards grass.

That wasn't one of the perks, but there were several. Such as a customized Orioles jersey that had the No. 50 and the nameplate "Millionth Fan" on the back.

He also was honored in an on-field ceremony and received a ticket upgrade, which took him and his buddies from the upper deck to box seats.

Now he'll be at the park a whole lot more.

"I always dreamed of having season tickets, it'd be great to have," Gracie said. "I obviously was not in the financial spot to have it, until today."

Gracie's original ticket cost $15 - and he didn't even pay for it.

His friend, Ben Reisz from Catonsville, originally fronted the group's tickets yesterday.

Gracie might have had an oversized check in his hand, but he only had $6 in his pocket.

"He still hasn't paid me for his ticket yet," Reisz said. "I know it is only $15, but he's got $50,000 now,"

For those hoping to make big money at Camden Yards this season, they still have a chance thanks to the Orioles and the Maryland Lottery, which also sponsored yesterday's promotion.

Later this week, the 100 millionth fan in Orioles history will walk through the gates at Camden Yards, and that person will receive a pair of season tickets for the next five years, a commemorative jersey and $100,000.

Heading into last night, the Orioles were 157,273 short of that milestone.

With the Red Sox ending their series here today and the New York Yankees coming into town Friday, it's likely that fan will be named sometime Saturday evening.

Yesterday, though, was Gracie's time to hit it big.

"I can't explain it," he said. "Complete shock."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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