HOW WOULD YOU expect to celebrate someone's 101st birthday? These days, it would probably be anywhere other than a smoke-filled room, unless of course you were celebrating the 101st of baseball legend Babe Ruth, who happened to be a famous cigar smoker.
And what better place for such a party than at Ruth's Chris Steak House, where last Monday evening they opened their doors for only well-heeled guests who bought $200 tickets to attend a black-tie gala fund-raiser for the Babe Ruth Museum's new Camden Station Museum.
(Well, you also could get in if your name was David Modell -- he's a regular at the steakhouse and son of Art, the owner of yes, that NFL team. Then you, too, could park your 4-by-4 vehicle in front of the steakhouse to run in and pick up a take-home dinner. Don't you love his style! He couldn't stay, because he had to rush home to celebrate his child's 6th birthday.)
Maitre d' Robb Young, formerly of the Polo Grill, was a great asset, because he knew so many people. I chatted with him before going to the bar, where the party was in full swing and everyone was puffing Cubita No. 700 cigars. That's where I saw Gloria and Dick Gordon -- he's an attorney who represents athletes. The Gordons are close friends of Steve de Castro, owner of Ruth's Chris, so close that Dick Gordon donated most of the sports items for the silent auction, and the memorabilia in the dark-green dining room belongs to him.
Soon we were ushered upstairs for an adventure in eating and drinking. WBAL-radio's Beltway Gourmet guys, Dave Durian and Doug Roberts, did the emceeing job, which included introducing gala VIPs -- Jill McGovern, president of the Babe Ruth Museum Board; former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan, now HTS analyst for Orioles games, and his wife, Alex, who, I'm told, entertained her table with an amazing memory game; Mike Gibbons, executive director of the Babe Ruth Foundation; Peter Sollogub, the Cambridge Seven architect who will design the new Camden Station Museum -- his group designed the National Aquarium and the observation deck at BWI; Manuel Quesada, cigar manufacturer from the Dominican Republic, who chatted about cigars, including the Lambs Clubs, Cruz Real No. 19 Maduros, Fonseca 10-10s and Ashton Churchills that were offered to guests; Jim Pendergast, manufacturer of humidors like the one that houses de Castro's fine selection; Jerry Edelman, a wine expert who shared info about the wines served with each course; and de Castro.
I also saw Bob Brown, former O's PR man, now with the Bowie Baysox; Peter Kirk, owner of the Bowie and Frederick minor league clubs; Scott Dance, Dance Brothers contractors and a Babe Ruth Museum board member; Wayne Gioioso Jr., Mid-Atlantic Properties Inc.; a dapper-looking J. T. Mullin, of Mullin Custom Clothing, wearing a tuxedo he'd made; Dr. Bob Hieronimus; Terry Weiss, Inphomation Communications; Barry Silverman, Blue Sky Design, the folks who donated and designed the evening's program; Kathleen Harmeyer, ExperTech, a multimedia company; and Linda Fowler, a Friends Lower School computer coordinator.
According to Kathleen, this was the first time she and Linda had ever smoked a cigar, but it won't be the last.
Best remark of the evening was made by Doug Roberts, who said he was smoking a few cigarettes to give his throat a rest from the cigars.