Fans get to work out their baseball dreams A big day for thousands of 'average Joes'


When Casey Stengel was asked about then-new Busch Stadium at the 1966 All-Star Game, the legendary manager made one of his wonderfully memorable remarks.

"It holds the heat in real well," Stengel said on a 95-degree day.

If the Ol' Professor had been around for yesterday's All-Star Workout at Camden Yards, he might have said the same thing. He also might have added, "It holds the fans in real well."

A crowd of 47,981 -- the largest gathering in the stadium's 15-month history -- came to Oriole Park.

There was a distinctly local flavor, judging by the hats, T-shirts and cheers for those wearing orange and black.

Dorothy Mullinix and her 5-year-old son, John, savored tickets to yesterday's All-Star Workout as if they were holding the winning $110 million Powerball lottery ticket.

"This is like a rare treat for us," said Mullinix, a homemaker from Chase. "It's the All-Star Game. Most of the time, you think of people from out of town who get to go to something like this. Well, I'm from Baltimore, and I'm just an average Joe. I can't express how excited I am."

"He may not remember this," said Mullinix of her son, "but when he gets older, he'll have these tickets and this program and he'll be able to tell his kids that he saw the All-Stars."

Jay Trigger, a crane operator from Laurel, brought his two sons, Chris, 9, and Brian, 11, to the work out after failing to get tickets for tonight's extravaganza. "I tried to get tickets, but I think this is probably better for them," he said.

Between them, Chris and Brian have more than 3,000 baseball cards, and they brought as many as possible, hoping to get their idols to autograph them.

"This is really great," said Chris.

Of course, you didn't have to be a child to catch All-Star fever. Brian Ripley, a doorman at a Fells Point bar, snagged a ticket from a fraternity brother, and took the day off.

"This is the All-Star Game," said Ripley, 26, of Arbutus. "I just wanted to be a part of it. I mean, this is the first time we've had something like this in 40-some years. It's something to tell my kids."

The highlight for Ripley was the Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball Game and the chance to see Orioles legends such as Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson. "Paul Blair was my idol. I played right field when I was a kid, but I wish I could play it like he played center," said Ripley.

Jim Emery, a Department of the Treasury analyst from Herndon, Va., enjoyed the old-timers' game. "I remember a lot of these guys from when I was growing up. I was hoping to get tickets to the game, but I guess they gave them to all the congressmen."

Tonya James, 27, from Southwest Baltimore, used the day as an opportunity to introduce her daughter, Ebony, 11, to the Baltimore baseball legends of her youth.

"I remember Brooks Robinson and Frank and Earl Weaver," said Tonya James.

Not everybody at Camden Yards yesterday was local. People have come from all over the country to catch the game -- and an up-close look at one of baseball's most celebrated parks.

"It reminds me of the little ballpark in Cooperstown," said Linda Kelley, a sales manager for a paper company, who came with her husband, Alan, from Dayton, Ohio, and bought tickets to yesterday's workout and tonight's game from a -- shhhh -- scalper. "It has an old-time baseball feeling."

Al Tagliareni, a guidance counselor from Princeton, N.J., won the right to buy tickets in the lottery. But he gave them to his son, and attended yesterday's workout with his wife, Kathy.

Unlike many Orioles games at Camden Yards, this was definitely a true baseball crowd. Tagliareni has been to 16 major-league ballparks, although this is his first All-Star trip.

Kelley and her husband go on baseball vacations, taking in induction ceremonies at Cooperstown. Diehard Reds fans, they were in Chicago for Pete Rose's record-breaking hit and went to the All-Star Game at Riverfront Stadium in 1988.

"I even went to Baseball Heaven that the Reds hold," she said.

Somewhere in the real baseball heaven, Casey was smiling.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad