Few things in my little black book of public outrages are as infuriating as Baltimore cops arresting people for scalping tickets at Orioles games. I don't buy it. The time and manpower put into the effort is a waste of this financially-crunched, crime-burdened city's resources, and if anyone in municipal government had any nerve they'd tell the Orioles to hire their own enforcers. Moreover, I figure it this way: If the Orioles can set ticket prices as they wish, so can fans. It's called free enterprise. Instead, we ,, have cops going undercover to nab scalpers.
The Michael Heinz case is fresh off the books at Central District. Last week, this 23-year-old Hopkins grad student took his mother to an Orioles-Mariners game. He had four tickets -- the two he was originally going to use and the two a friend had given him. The tickets from his friend were better than the originals Heinz had purchased. So, as his mother waited by the gate before the game, Heinz went out on Eutaw Street to sell the leftovers. They were valued at $12 each. When a plainclothes detective asked Heinz how much he wanted, he said $20 each. That's the detective's account, anyway. Heinz claims he only wanted $20 for both tickets. Whatever. They took Heinz away and apparently never told his mother. (It's not clear how she found out her son was in jail.) Stephen Tully, Heinz's lawyer, says his client was in jail from the evening of July 6 until about 4:30 the following afternoon. Heinz gets a District Court trial next month. What nonsense.
It's a small world
In 1905, when he turned 21, Michael James Smith of Phoenixville, Pa. received a gold pocket watch from his mother. It was a handsome piece any young man would have popped open in public at every opportunity -- a Waltham with Roman numerals on its face and elegant engravings, including a stag's head, in the gold case. Inside, an artful engraver inscribed the words: "From Mother To Son/ Happy 21st Birthday '05."
Years later, after Michael Smith had died, his watch was held by Mary McGee, his niece in Baltimore. She considered it an heirloom and, one day in 1984, decided to pass the watch along to a relative she knew would appreciate its value -- her niece's husband, Tom Cimbolo; a lot of people call him Skeeter.
"It was still in its homely green gift box when she gave it to me," Skeeter said the other night. Shortly after Aunt Mary gave him the watch, Skeeter took it to a prominent Baltimore jeweler and asked for basic maintenance. The jeweler advised that a new main spring and second hand was needed; an expert at such repairs, a subcontractor of the jeweler, would handle the job.
But right after that, the watch expert had a stroke and died. Michael Smith's gold Waltham was never returned to Skeeter Cimbolo. The jeweler stalled several times, then finally admitted that the watch had become subject to an estate claim by the watch expert's heirs. When, after 18 months, the jeweler finally returned a Waltham watch to Skeeter, it was the wrong one. The company ended up paying a substantial settlement. As legally dubious as all that sounds -- the jeweler has since gone out of business, and there's no one around to explain exactly what happened -- Skeeter, his wife, Kathy, and Aunt Mary figured they'd never see the watch again. That was nine years ago.
Recently, Skeeter was nosing around an antiques gallery in Cockeysville and spotted a gold pocket watch on display in a homely green gift box. He beckoned the proprietor and pointed to the watch. "Open it up," he said. "Inside it should be engraved, 'From Mother To Son, Happy 21st Birthday, '05."
Michael Smith's gold Waltham. Skeeter bought it back. He paid a bit more than the sum he had received as settlement nine years ago. "I feel pretty good, though," he says. "How many people get to restore a family heirloom they thought was lost forever?"
A word on veal
If you go to Little Italy for dinner tomorrow night, watch out for animal-rights fanatics. They'll be protesting veal marsala, veal parmesan, ground veal in pasta sauce, veal in whatever form it is served. (In case you didn't know, the method for producing good veal is ugly. Calves are taken away from their mothers at birth, JTC fed milk and kept in tiny pens to stifle muscle development.) A group called Maryland Animal Advocates is planning the demonstration. Advocates want the Italian restaurants to take veal off their menus. (What's next? Meatballs?) If you don't like veal -- either how it's produced or how it tastes -- don't eat it.
For months now, Orioles owner Peter Angelos, Baltimore's most famous Type-A personality, has said he wants to pull back from hands-on management of the team's daily operations. He's been trying to assemble a lineup of executives to run the shop, but that effort suffered a setback last week when nice-guy Ernie Accorsi resigned as executive director for business affairs to take a job with the New York Giants. Now we hear Angelos has been talking to Clay Mitchell, former speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, about signing on as a top aide. Mitchell, who resigned from the General Assembly in December, is
described as a good friend of Angelos.
Good luck to Sybil Higgins of Parkton, Baltimore County. She's in Las Vegas this weekend competing as Mrs. Maryland in the Mrs. USA pageant.