Beating the traffic was Mark Pallack's goal when he and
After an unsuccessful afternoon of chasing home runs in the crowded right-field flag court, it was time to head back to Carroll County, where Mark, 17, will be a senior at Westminster High School in the fall.
At least, that's what they thought.
Some 10 minutes later, Mark found himself in the American League clubhouse after retrieving Ken Griffey's longest home run of the day, the first ever to hit the B&O; warehouse on the fly.
"Look," Mark said, nudging Jim and whispering, "there's Cal [Ripken]."
"Is this amazing or what?" his buddy Jim said.
They were on their way to the car, walking along the back of the Eutaw Street concourse, by the warehouse, when they heard the shouts and saw the mob coming toward them.
Then a ball was flying toward them. Mark dived into the pile of humanity and emerged with the ball.
A group of fans gathered round, pounding him on the back.
"I got it!" Mark screamed, and ran for the safety of open ground.
Reporters found him. Photographers started taking his picture. He held up the ball, unsmiling. A group of fans gathered round, pounding him on the back.
"Way to go, kid," one said. "That's the big time."
Said another: "Good going. A hundred bucks for it, right now."
He finally was corraled by Orioles publicist Rick Vaughn, who took him and Jim to the clubhouse.
Griffey was off in another corner of the room, reviewing his feat.
"I just started laughing," Griffey said of his initial reaction.
Just six years older than Mark, Griffey came across the room, autographed the ball ("Off The Wall -- 1993 All-Star Game -- Ken Griffey Jr.") and shook Mark's hand.
"Nice going," Griffey said.
Someone asked Mark what he was going to do with the ball.
"I don't know," Mark said. "Can I give it to a museum?"