An All-Star Week to Remember


This year's All-Star Game will live long in the memories of Marylanders. They will enjoy the economic fallout of this past week's immensely successful festival for years to come. They will bask in the praise heaped on a ballpark already the model for a new generation of stadiums. And they have the beginning of a feud that might surpass this community's distaste for the New York Yankees.

There's no longer any doubt about the genius of locating the ballpark downtown. The synergy of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Convention Center and the Inner Harbor was obvious to the tens of thousands of Marylanders and out-of-towners who packed the area during the past five days. Marylanders owe Gov. William Donald Schaefer a Ripken-like ovation for his vision.

The payoff was not just in the enjoyment of FanFest, the old-timers game, the black baseball players tribute, the home run derby and the game itself. Or the $30 million spent here. The entire region will profit in future years from the great impression it made on influential visitors and the million dollars worth of free publicity.

Just how much Camden Yards has become the standard by which future ballparks will be measured was demonstrated by, of all things during All-Star Week, an architectural symposium. Concrete donuts, multi-use stadiums and artificial turf are obsolete. Classic ballparks, asymmetrical and idiosyncratic, in downtown locations will rise in other cities. That will be the legacy of Eli Jacobs when all else about his years here are forgotten.

It is a pity that the All-Star Game here had to end on a sour note. For almost everyone on the field it was baseball as fun. We can't remember as much horsing around on the field and in the dugouts. The spirit of the evening was epitomized by John Kruk's boisterous reaction to Randy Johnson's erratic fastball.

Baltimore fans made it a true Baltimore evening by booing Jays Manager Cito Gaston with a fierce gusto fully deserved. Not only did he overload the American League team with his own players -- a distortion of the All Stars ideal -- but he deliberately affronted the home crowd by stooping to petty spite to deny Oriole Mike Mussina a chance to pitch the last inning before a hometown crowd. As the boos rattled Camden Yards, Mr. Gaston sat in the dugout, smiling. In the demonology of Baltimore baseball fans, the name Gaston now tops George Steinbrenner and the late Billy Martin. The AL East pennant race is a grudge match from here on.

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