In the shadow of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Audie Cross sweated over his broom and dustpan, cleaning the sidewalk of stray wrappers as Baltimore geared up for five days of All-Star festivities.
While hundreds of workers unfurled banners, blew up balloons, decorated booths and prepared downtown hotel rooms, Mr. vTC Cross, a 38-year-old sweeper, undertook the gritty part of the city's effort yesterday to impress visitors.
He was working with a crew from the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc. to scrub the streets before up to 150,000 people arrive for a weekend with a baseball theme capped by Tuesday's All-Star Game.
The consortium of downtown property owners planted flowers in the median strip in front of the stadium and added a six-man extra crew to its 28-member cleanup team. Municipal crews also began working around the clock to keep the stadium area and Inner Harbor clean.
"We've doubled our efforts," said Jeanne Robinson, acting chief of the collections division for the Bureau of Solid Waste.
Eighteen more municipal cleanup workers joined the regular Inner Harbor staff of 20 to sweep the streets through the night, she said. The city also has set up 175 trash cans, many from schools closed for the summer.
George Brown, a city street cleaner for 22 years, was driving a truck with a vacuum-like suction device known as an "elephant" past the brick stadium yesterday morning.
"Yep, we're going to get this city clean. It's been a long time since we've had this opportunity," he said as he stopped for a snack in the shade of a scrawny tree.
The last time Baltimore was host to the midsummer extravaganza was in 1958.
Baseball fever captivated most of the sweat-drenched street sweepers and other workers preparing for the All-Star Game in yesterday's 103-degree heat.
Mr. Cross discussed the attempted comeback of Orioles' pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, while his partners talked about the difficulty of getting tickets to the big game. Nearby, ballpark employees set up a 10-foot plastic foam Oriole bird at Camden Station.
More police officers will be dispatched to the Inner Harbor through Tuesday to direct traffic and handle crowd control. The city's traffic-control division is assigning 21 employees to help police officers stationed at the busiest corners.
Large crowds are expected from morning until night at the Inner Harbor because practically all of Baltimore's 5,600 hotel rooms are booked.
The few rooms left at bed-and-breakfast inns and hotels near Baltimore-Washington International Airport were going fast.
"It's going to be a very tight town for the next few days," said Gil Stotler, assistant director of tourism and promotion for the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association.
"We're happy," he said. "This is going to bring an enormous amount of money into the city."
Polishing Baltimore's image is expected to cost plenty in overtime.
Still, those involved in sprucing up the downtown agree that the effort will pay off when hundreds of thousands of visitors are charmed by the city's clean streets.