The passing of former President George H.W. Bush on Friday evening gives us cause to relive a moment when Baltimore was the center of media attention — and a seat of U.S. and British power.
In May 1991, then-President Bush and Queen Elizabeth II attended an Orioles game at old Memorial Stadium during the monarch’s visit to the states. Here are some excerpts from The Sun’s coverage, written by a host of reporters including Jean Marbella, David Simon, Kent Baker, Randi Henderson and David Ettlin….
O's give the queen a jolly good show
President Bush took the Queen of England out to the ballgame in Baltimore last night.
All that independence-from-England stuff appeared to be forgotten as the Memorial Stadium crowd of 32,596 wildly applauded Queen Elizabeth II when she emerged from the dugout before the Baltimore Orioles-Oakland Athletics game.
The queen seemed delighted — albeit reservedly — by the welcome. She arrived in Baltimore by helicopter at 6:40 p.m., touching down at Lake Clifton-Eastern High School, before going by motorcade to the stadium where she was greeted by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke….
Mr. Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Barbara Bush and the queen's husband, Prince Philip, formed a receiving line in the Orioles dugout on the first base side, standing on formally printed place cards that identified the places for: The President, Her Majesty, Mrs. Bush, His Royal Highness.
Orioles broadcaster Jon Miller tried to make his broadcast appropriate to the occasion. He had his daughter Holly -- "who knows her Shakespeare" — find quotations to open the broadcast and sprinkled the play-by-play with lines from "Romeo and Juliet" and "Macbeth."
"He's the manager of the Orioles," Mr. Bush was heard to say as he introduced Frank Robinson to the queen, who, as she did with every player, coach, trainer and batboy, smiled and shook his hand with her own black-gloved one.
"It was thrilling and very exciting, " Mr. Robinson said of meeting the queen. "It didn't last very long because we were rushed through. I just shook her hand and said, 'Your Majesty' and 'Your Highness.'
"I just said nice to meet you," second baseman Bill Ripken said of his fleeting brush with royalty. He had a slightly more in-depth discussion with Mr. Bush.
"I told George he's doing a hell of a good job," the cheekier of the Ripken brothers said, giving a thumbs-up….
About 60 journalists clustered in front of the dugout, craning cameras and ears in a usually vain attempt to hear any royal or presidential chitchat over the din of the crowd and the intonation of a nearby vendor — "Buddddddd-weiser."
Watching the game from team owner Eli Jacobs' private box, along with the queen and the president, were Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne, and British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and his wife.
"Oh, here we go!" President Bush exclaimed as Oriole starting pitcher Jeff Ballard completed his warm-up throws. The queen — who had been briefed on baseball before beginning her 12-day visit to the United States — seemed to watch the game intently. Prince Philip occasionally raised binoculars for a closer look.
Mayor Schmoke, who decided not to attend a garden party for the queen in Washington so he'd be at the stadium to greet her, accompanied her to the dugout lounge. ...
The Bushes, the queen, Prince Philip and Mr. Sununu had flown by helicopter from Washington aboard U.S. Marine Corps One.
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Waiting to greet them at the school were a smattering of local press, a large security force that included Baltimore police, Secret Service agents and members of the federal Emergency Ordnance Disposal Unit (which checks for bombs), and about 40 spectators — including eight Lake Clifton-Eastern students.
"This is a very special experience to see George Bush and the queen and at the same time, " said Mary Ann Hernandez, a 17-year-old senior. "It's something I'll tell my children about."
"It's a chance of a lifetime to see the queen, " said Mary Guercio, whose son is a Marine on the crew of one of the helicopters in the fleet that came up from Washington.
Her daughter, Mary Leach, added: "It's a toss-up which is more exciting — seeing the president or seeing the queen."
At the stadium, the game was delayed about 15 minutes by the visit, but most fans didn't seem to mind. And Commissioner Vincent, for one, thought the queen would have a jolly good time.
"I'm sure the president will explain it all to her, " Mr. Vincent said. "And baseball is an experience more than the game itself — it's the stadium, it's the spectacle of it all."
Still, just as well the queen didn't stay till the last out — the Orioles were defeated, 6-3.