Relocating the writing on the wall


Time shall not dim the glory of these Memorial Stadium letters.

After the demolition of the stadium on 33rd Street, scheduled for December, the best-known line of the structure's distinctive dedication will be displayed at a new veterans memorial in Camden Yards, Maryland Stadium Authority officials announced yesterday.

They also set Oct. 7 as a rain-or-shine date for a public auction in Memorial's center field of stadium memorabilia. The event will continue the next day if necessary.

The new, eye-level memorial will be displayed on a pedestrian promenade between the two new football and baseball stadiums at Camden Yards, said officials. The single line - "Time will not dim the glory of their deeds" - should capture the spirit of the 317-letter, 1954 dedication to World War veterans, MSA officials said yesterday.

Charles Yealdhall, 77, the metalworker from Ocean City who handcrafted and soldered each of the stainless steel letters, expressed dismay that the entire dedication would not stay intact.

"Are you telling me that's all they're going to put there?" he said yesterday when told of the plans for the memorial.

"People won't know what it's all about. I hate to see it destroyed, I don't know why.

"They can spend all this money on new stadiums, but a memorial, they're going to take it down."

In the 1950s, the font of the letters was considered avant-garde and controversial, Yealdhall said. "People thought it looked like Russian hieroglyphics."

The rest of the letters, 15 of which are 10 feet high, will be city property stored in a vault, officials said.

Yesterday's announcement was intended to allay concerns from veterans that the stadium dedication and the city seal would be dismantled and forgotten.

Col. Erwin A. Burtnick of the Maryland Veterans Commission suggested yesterday that perhaps the dedication could be widened to memorialize all American war veterans.

The ground-breaking for the new memorial is expected to take place on Veterans Day in November and the work would be completed by Memorial Day 2001, stadium officials said. The removal and relocation is expected to cost about $600,000.

The auction of memorabilia and an everything-must-go sale of seats and bricks will be managed by the stadium authority and the Babe Ruth Museum.

The facility, once home to the Baltimore Colts and Orioles, has been systematically scoured for anything of value."[The process] helps bring closure," said Michael L. Gibbons, the museum's executive director. A sideline bench and brass row markers might be "very hot," he said. "And even this stuff," he added, pointing to restroom signs and buttons advertising hot dogs.

"It tells the story of sports culture," he said.

Nearly 18,000 seats will be for sale starting Sept. 23, Gibbons said, priced at either $75 or $150. Seats remaining from that day will be sold on Oct. 7, the day of the main auction.

"She'll go down in dignity," said John Ziemann, the project manager and Colts/Ravens band leader who performed the stadium inventory. "We're doing it the right way."

Stadum authority officials Richard Slosson and Edward Cline said they were consulting with stadium representatives from other cities that have demolished stadiums recently, such as Denver, Seattle, Chicago and Atlanta.

Former Oriole Tippy Martinez attended yesterday's announcement and said being back at the park triggered memories. "If these walls could talk," he said.

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