The Orioles changed their ticket-exchange policy yesterday, apparently in response to declining attendance since the strike.
They no longer will exchange individual game tickets, and season tickets may be exchanged only for select dates.
In the past, the Orioles have allowed fans to trade in individual or season tickets for current or future games. Club officials said their new policy puts the Orioles more in line with other major-league teams, about half of which permit no exchanges or refunds.
"We went from having the most liberal policy in baseball to a normal one," public relations director John Maroon said.
The change went into effect before last night's game. Fans discovered the new rules the hard way.
"I'm an angry fan," said Craig Annear, 47, of McLean, Va., after being turned away at the advance sales window.
Annear was unable to trade a ticket for an Aug. 16 game against Cleveland for last night's game so he could join his wife and son inside. He had to buy a ticket instead.
"I don't like this policy," said Annear, a partial season-ticket holder who had extra tickets for Aug. 16 that he had received because of the strike. "Last week I exchanged this ticket and now I can't get rid of it."
The Orioles used to allow fans to exchange individual tickets because they were confident, in light of the string of sellouts, that the tickets could be resold. Not anymore.
"Quite frankly, there's too much inventory," Maroon said. "The supply's greater than the demand."
The team has averaged 38,549 fans, including last night's attendance of 38,407. Exchanged individual-game tickets have gone unsold.
"Essentially," Maroon said, "they turn into dead tickets."
The Orioles altered but did not abolish their season-ticket exchange policy. Season-ticket holders may trade their tickets for games against the same team or for six selected home dates: July 5 vs. Minnesota, July 27 vs. Texas, July 31 vs. Toronto, Aug. 17 vs. Kansas City and Aug. 30-31 vs. Oakland.
Maroon said the new policy prevents season-ticket holders from swapping tickets against teams such as Seattle for games against division rivals such as New York or Boston.
Several season-ticket holders were undeterred by the new policy, exchanging the tickets they couldn't use for the newly specified dates. Others, such as Baltimore's Mark Kantor, were less forgiving.
"They're doing whatever they can to make the people who stuck by this game with the strike not come back next year," said Kantor, 42. "And I'm real close to that."