In Oriole Park stands, deadline talk strikes a nerve


While the idea of a strike rubs many baseball players the wrong way, no one is more upset than the fans who watch the players and the employees who work at ballparks.

"I'd certainly be disappointed," Bob Stevens, a 41-year-old firefighter from Crownsville, said of a pending players strike from his seat behind third base at Oriole Park last night.

"It's just messing everybody up," said Kim Webster, a 16-year-old vendor from East Baltimore. "I just wish they wouldn't do it."

Many fans at yesterday's Orioles doubleheader voiced opposition to a strike, which was set for Aug. 12 before yesterday's first game.

The baseball owners want to institute a salary cap that would essentially split the revenue 50-50 with the players. The players want to maintain the status quo.

Either way, Don Watson, a 48-year-old Bowie resident, said he was worried about losing the remaining games on his partial package with the Orioles.

"I certainly don't want to lose those," Watson said while he stood on the upper-level concourse with a beer in his hand. "I'm definitely going to miss the game."

And if a strike does occur, both players and owners will feel the heat from the people who pay to watch the games.

"I am totally against the strike," said Buddy Pyle, a 39-year-old Delaware utility employee, from his right-field seat. "[The players] get well paid for what they do, and this just takes away from the fans."

Gordon Guss, 56, a former minor-leaguer from Pikesville, agreed.

"In the past, I didn't blame the players, but now with unions, it's a whole different ballgame," said Guss, who played one year with the Durham Bulls, a New York Yankees affiliate in North Carolina. "A lot of the clubs are losing money. They've got to have some kind of cap -- some kind of system that is equitable to both the players and the owners. The owners are the ones who take the risks."

But there are some fans -- like Robert Moran of Leonia, N.J. -- who blame the owners for being stubborn and inflexible. "The owners charge a lot to come out to their ballparks," he said. "And they say they're losing money? No way."

And while fans won't be able to watch, employees at Oriole Park will not be able to earn wages. Take 19-year-old Joe Henderson. Henderson, a sophomore at Towson State this fall, said he needs the money he gets from selling game booklets to help pay for his tuition.

"You always set aside money," said Henderson, "but I heard it all before. . . . I don't think anyone expected it."

Then there are the volunteers like Pam McCracken, director of the Kenwood High School band, who summons about 15 of her students to work behind the vending counters at Camden Yards. The volunteers earn about $500 commission based on sales made during a game.

"This is our main fund-raiser so that during the school year, we don't have to be constantly fund-raising," McCracken said. "We need this."

But one employee said he is well prepared should a strike occur.

"This is just part time -- for fun," said Mark Wild, a 39-year-old usher who is also an engineer for the State Highway Administration. "It helps pay for Christmas, but I'm not going to be too strapped."

Besides, he said, a strike would give him time "to complete unfinished projects at home."

But the biggest losers would be the children. Glenn Lichtmann, a year-old pharmacist from Baltimore, said his son and other children will not understand a strike.

"You can't explain it to them," he said. "They hear about all these players making all this money and the owners making money. And then when they hear about all this fighting over money, they ask whose?"

"I don't think they should because they already make enough money," said Brian Stevens, 12, of Crownsville. "I want to see [the Orioles] make it to the World Series."


If the major-league season is halted by a strike on Aug. 12, some numbers need rethinking:

COULD IT BE MAGIC?: In the race for the three American League postseason spots (excluding the West), the Orioles must keep an eye on these magic numbers for their opponents: New York Yankees, 10; Chicago White Sox, 12; Cleveland Indians, 13.

CAL WATCH: The Cal Ripken Streak Countdown would be extended by a strike. Ripken would end the season at 2,010 games and wouldn't break Lou Gehrig's record until the 121st game next season.

PICK UP THE PACE, MATT: If the Giants' Matt Williams is going to pass Roger Maris' home run record, he needs 24 homers, two per game for the rest of the truncated season.

YOU'VE GOT LOTS OF TIME TO REST: With 15 wins, the Yankees' Jimmy Key still can reach 20 for the season. He'd just better pitch on two days' rest until Aug. 12.

LET'S SEE HOW GOOD YOU REALLY ARE: The Astros' Jeff Bagwell has been doing all right in the RBI department, but he still has 88 to go to beat Hack Wilson's record of 190. That's only 6.8 per game.

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