'Indian summer' consumes fans at Jacobs Field Anti-Baltimore flavor absent amid euphoria


CLEVELAND -- Indians fever ran high here all week and only got worse yesterday as Clevelanders congregated in their shiny new stadium and cheered on their team to victory -- with hardly a bad word to say about Baltimore.

Symptoms of the epidemic are wearing red socks pulled up to the knee, wearing feathers in one's hair and hoarseness induced by a general euphoria.

"The whole city's been bubbling, just waiting for this series," said Eric Hooper, a 39-year-old sausage-maker, as he stood outside Jacobs Field before the game. "It's Indian summer after 42 years of suffering. You'll be able to hear the noise down to the lakefront."

So jazzed are most fans about beating the Yankees, whom most love to hate, that they displayed bonhomie toward the Baltimore team that ended their pennant hopes last year.

"The only bad feelings about Baltimore is that they took our Browns," said Bob Cvitkovic. "But you also took Art Modell, and ** you can have him."

"I have no problem with Baltimore," said Tony Ricco, 35, describing the Orioles as a team of "good guys." "But if you want to get into football, then we'll talk."

In fact, there was only one Oriole the crowd appeared to hold a grudge against yesterday. Roberto Alomar was booed when he first came up to bat.

"It was his home run that beat us last year, and he shouldn't have been playing, in our opinion," said Jim Briscoll, alluding to the spitting incident between Alomar and umpire John Hirschbeck.

A Cleveland Indians cheerleader, Wendy Boynar, said she hardly had to work at all yesterday to bring fans to their feet. "We have more confidence in ourselves," she shouted over one of the loudest and most spirited crowds she said she had ever seen at Jacobs Field.

Much like Camden Yards, the baseball stadium has been at the heart of a recently reinvigorated downtown. Its post-modern design gleamed in picture-perfect sun yesterday.

The best-dressed fan of all was a young bride who wore red knee-high socks under her gown, topped off with Cinderella slippers. Married at noon, Bob and Christine Patterson posed for pictures with their wedding party, all adorned with Indians regalia, on their way to the reception.

The high red-sock craze caught on when the Indians wore them to mark the 27th birthday of Jim Thome a few weeks ago. The team won the game and ever since, both players and fans have sported them.

Perched by a statue of Bob Feller, the best pitcher in Indians history, was the only Orioles fan to be found: a 10-year-old boy from Salem, Ohio, who introduced himself as Calvin Koch.

And why was he wearing an Orioles cap in a sea of Indians? "Because I have the same name and birthday as Cal Ripken," he said, "and I got these [sun]glasses at Camden Yards." His trip to Baltimore was a birthday present on Aug. 24, he said.

And the parallels didn't stop there: "In Little League, I play shortstop," he added.

Cleveland's trouble against the Orioles, he predicted, would be that "Cleveland doesn't have any left-handed starters."

In a sign that all's well in a friendly rivalry between the two waterfront cities, a Cleveland couple and a Baltimore family posed for pictures together.

"They wished us good luck, we wished them good luck," said Lynn Cvitkovic. "That's what it's all about."

Pub Date: 10/12/97

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