New stadium seats are roomy, stylish, . . . and backward?


Maybe you've heard about the roughly 47,000 seats at the soon-to-be downtown ballpark. They are touted as being roomy, stylish and backside-friendly, whatever your shape.

Now comes unusual news: They also may be backward.

At least one decorative part.

The seat parts in question are about 4,000 custom-designed end standards that will be displayed on aisles at the new ballpark. Each features a century-old Orioles logo -- a mustachioed batsman flanked by a pair of ornate capital letter "B's" -- used long ago on the team's letterhead.

According to the Orioles' plan, the hitter in the logo was to have been always facing the field. The standards have been delivered to the ballpark site and have been examined by Bruce Hoffman, executive director of the Maryland Stadium Authority. He sees a batsman looking the wrong way.

"I hate to admit it, but it's one of our first mistakes that can't be fixed without major hardship to the manufacturer," Hoffman said, referring to the seat makers, American Seating Corp. of Grand Rapids, Mich.

The Orioles take a different and more charitable view. They are convinced the standards were made correctly, although team officials admit the ancient batsman's awkward stance leaves room for confusion.

"In the 1890s, it was a more formal pose than we are used to seeing," said Janet Marie Smith, an Orioles vice president. "But if you think about where he is starting his swing, he is facing the playing field. You've got to love baseball to see this one."

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