BOWIE -- Gov. Parris N. Glendening participated in the pre-game ceremonies and signed autographs. Fireworks soared TTC into the twilight. White pigeons were released and circled Prince George's County Stadium.
But the Bowie Baysox were more like the National Guard parachutists who were denied permission to land before the home opener last night.
They never really showed up and absorbed a 7-3 defeat to a Norwich Navigators team playing its first Eastern League game.
Bowie starter Garrett Stephenson and his first reliever, Charles Devereux, were rocked for three home runs, enabling the Navigators to end this one early.
Meanwhile, right-hander James Musselwhite kept the 4,830 chilled spectators silent through the first six innings, holding the Baysox to a run on four hits, two of them routine flies that were lost in the lights by the Norwich outfield and fell for doubles.
The Baysox chipped in with four errors in their first game of the spring against a non-Orioles farm club.
Despite the performance on the field, owner Peter Kirk was pleased with the turnout, which was considerably short of a sellout.
"It's a cold night, school is in and everything considered, we're very happy with the crowd," said Kirk.
Stephenson was living on borrowed time after a shaky second inning when Norwich catcher Mike Figga homered with one out.
The Navigators went on to load the bases before the Bowie starter escaped with a strikeout and a groundout.
A two-run homer by Steve Phillips following Figga's single and four more hits -- two off a looper and a nubbed grounder -- added a fifth Norwich run and settled the outcome.
"This was like your drive on the first tee. You don't know which way it's going," said Baysox manager Bob Miscik.
"There were a lot of things tonight that we hadn't experienced all spring, playing other people and in front of a big crowd. It made it kind of strange. Just throw this one out the window and start over."
Kevin Riggs hit the third Norwich homer, a two-run shot off Devereux in the sixth that gave his team a 7-1 cushion.
The Baysox's lone run against Musselwhite came on a solid double by Harry Berrios, an advancing ground ball and Roy Hodge's sacrifice fly.
Bowie also scored on a bases-loaded double play with none out in the seventh and Clayton Byrne drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth after two Navigators errors.
"We weren't ourselves, particularly offensively," said Miscik. "It's one game. We'll go to bed and come back tomorrow."