A market economy claimed many downtown street corners yesterday in a dramatic collision of the forces of supply and demand -- for All-Star Game tickets.
But the unwritten law of economics that prices rise when goods are scarce clashed with the written law of Baltimore City, and at least 11 people were arrested for ticket scalping, authorities said.
Officer Lavon Alston, answering calls at the Central police district, did not know last night how much money had been asked for All-Star Game tickets. But she did know what happened to the tickets -- they were seized as evidence.
The arrests took place mostly near Oriole Park and the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel, two blocks away, as the police kept an eye on the cat-and-mouse exercise of economics and opportunism.
In another arrest, police charged John Cockey, 41, of Baltimore, with trespassing and disorderly conduct after he unfurled an animal-rights banner to the left of the Budweiser sign on the center-field scoreboard during the fourth inning of last night's game.
The banner, read "August Busch III/Free Willy? Corky!, Shamu/Respect Gods Creatures" was directed at the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Busch family brewery makes Budweiser and owns Sea World, which has been criticized for several years for its treatment of whales in captivity. The complaint against the man was filed by the Baltimore Orioles and Major League Baseball.
Lt. Steve McMahon of the Central District said Cockey would likely be released on his own recognizance following processing.
Before the game, scalpers made their pitches along the streets outside Camden Yards, trying to unload tickets at inflated prices without getting caught.
And some people played both sides of the street -- buying and then selling, aiming for profits of $100 of more for each ticket.
"How much you lookin' to spend?" said a man in dark sunglasses and a sleeveless white tank top, offering "two downstairs" to a potential customer -- a father with a young son in tow. "I could let you have them for six [$600] each."
The father's offer of $100 each bought only a wave of dismissal.
David Shrager, a criminal lawyer from Pittsburgh, got lucky. He left a vacation stay in Rehoboth Beach, Del., with 11-year-old son Joshua to carry large white cardboard sign on Camden Street, imploring: "2 Baseball Fans, Big/Little Who Were 'Sleepless in Pittsburgh' Desperately Seek Tickets."
Two hours before game time, a man sold Shrager his extra ticket at face value, $60.
A Dixieland trio played on one corner, a troupe of chanting Krishnas rang bells and banged drums on another; vendors cried out, "Fresh-baked pretzels!" or "One-dollar peanuts!" and dozens xTC of people held up fingers indicating their need for tickets.
The signs of panhandlers asking for food or money were far outnumbered by the hand-drawn cardboard appeals of "Need One," "Need Two," "Will Work For Ticket," and 45-year-old Barry Grube's impassioned "I Need Ticket -- Have Less Than 40 Years To Live -- Must See Game!"