Mischievous Moe Drabowsky was back in town yesterday, participating in All-Star festivities for the first time since he needled President Nixon before the 1969 game in Washington.
An Orioles relief pitcher for the three years before and the year after that game, Drabowsky was the Kansas City Royals player representative in 1969. He was invited to the White House reception not as an All-Star but as a player rep.
In the receiving line, Drabowsky, ever the prankster, caught Nixon off guard with this off-the-wall remark: "It's about time you gave American Airlines a route award across the Pacific so it will be international."
Nixon blinked, harrumphed and mumbled words Drabowsky has long since forgotten. On the way out, a security guard told Drabowsky that the players' and Nixon's comments had been taped.
"I'm convinced my phone was bugged for a while after that," said Drabowsky, who signed autographs for two hours yesterday at the Upper Deck All-Star FanFest at the Convention Center. "I can just imagine what they thought -- a guy named Miroslav Drabowsky, born in Poland, saying that to the president. What's he up to?"
Drabowsky, a pitching coach in the Orioles' farm system last year and now the Chicago Cubs' minor-league pitching coordinator, was notorious as a prankster in his years as a player.
He put goldfish in the visiting team's bullpen water cooler. In 1966, from the visiting bullpen in Kansas City, he phoned the A's bullpen and, pretending he was manager Alvin Dark, instructed Lew Krause to warm up. Krause warmed up.
Drabowsky called again: "OK, sit him down." Krause stopped throwing. When word of the escapade leaked out to the newspapers, A's owner Charlie Finley was furious.
During the first game of the 1969 World Series between the Orioles and New York Mets, a plane flew over Memorial Stadium trailing a banner that read: "GOOD LUCK, BIRDS. BEWARE OF MOE."
The next day, a package arrived in the Orioles' clubhouse addressed to center fielder Paul Blair. In it was a boa constrictor Drabowsky had borrowed from the Baltimore Zoo.
Aaron: Rose belongs
Several hundred fans had a 30-minute question-and-answer session with all-time home run king Hank Aaron. A fan from Racine, Wis., thanked Aaron "for not dogging it when you were playing" and then asked if Pete Rose, banished from baseball for gambling, should be in the Hall of Fame.
"I'd gladly have Rose's plaque next to mine," Aaron said. "He made some mistakes; we all do. But he belongs."
The toughest pitcher Aaron faced?
"He's no longer with us," Aaron said, referring to Don Drysdale, who died July 3. "I hit more home runs off him than anyone, but I don't recall him ever hitting me with a pitch. But he spun my cap around many times."
Tickets for 100,000th
The 100,000th person through the FanFest turnstiles will receive two tickets to tonight's game. In its third year, FanFest easily broke the attendance record of 85,000 set last year in San Diego. Sunday's attendance of 25,000 was a one-day record.
On closing day today, the FanFest Super Store is offering 40 percent reductions on All-Star and team merchandise, excluding programs.
A highlight will be the Negro League Symposium from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Oriole Theater in Festival Hall, where fans can chat with stars of early black baseball.
9 a.m.-10 p.m. -- Upper Deck All-Star FanFest, final day.
10:30-11:15 a.m. -- Kids' Stuff, Kaufman Pavilion at Rash Field, Inner Harbor. Featuring Imagimime and skit "Batter Up."
11 a.m.- 9 p.m. -- All-Star StreetFest, final day.
Noon -- Baltimore City Middle School Lacrosse Club all-star game, Rash Field, Inner Harbor.
5-8 p.m. -- All-Star Always Coca-Cola Series, Harborplace Amphitheatre, Inner Harbor.
5 p.m. -- Gates open, Camden Yards.
8:37 p.m. -- First pitch, 64th All-Star Game (channels 11, 9).
For information on All-Star Game events, call (410) 685-9800.