A fan's guide

The Baltimore Sun

Another summer, another stretch of sauna-like temperatures in the Baltimore region. But it's also another opportunity to watch Ravens training camp at McDaniel College in Westminster. The city of 16,731 (according to the 2000 U.S. census) is not grandiose, but it never tries to be. Main Street is a quaint mix of row houses and mom-and-pop businesses. Here are a few tips for those who decide to visit during training camp.

at camp

Best places to park The parking lot at Bair Stadium off Main Street can hold about 700 cars and is available to the public free on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Bob Eller, senior director of operations for the Ravens. The team has three more overflow lots on Pennsylvania Avenue, and street parking is abundant.

What to bring A hat, camera, marker, sunscreen and binoculars.

What not to bring Alcohol is prohibited. Pets are banned, too, unless they are service animals.

Best place to get a player's autograph Getting a spot along the fence requires arriving early, but the rewards could be bountiful. For the second straight year, children 12 and under will be admitted to a special section located at the base of the steps leading up to the college gymnasium to get autographs.

Best way to get an autograph Kevin Byrne, the team's senior vice president of public and community relations, said fans can increase their chances of securing a specific player's autograph by wearing that player's jersey number.

Best way to get coach Brian Billick's autograph If Billick is sporting a mustache and beard, tell him he looks like Tom Selleck when he was Magnum P.I. back in the 1980s.

Players who are the most accommodating Nearly every player is gracious and willing to sign items. But it pays to be courteous. Understand that some players - Ray Lewis, Steve McNair and Ed Reed, to name a few - have numerous media requests to fulfill and might not be available every day.

in town

1. Best place to eat breakfast

For $3, you can order one of five breakfast platters at Plum Crazy Diner at 15 Baltimore Blvd. And maybe you can request a funnel cake to go.

2. Best place to get a hot dog

Harry's Main Street Grille at 65 W. Main St. is usually packed with hot dog lovers. Be sure to admire the photographs of former Colts players who dined there.

3. Best place to get a burger

Voted No. 1 by Washingtonian magazine for seven straight years, Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries at 596 Jermor Lane is the place to go. And the fries are fresh and delectable, too.

4. Best place to get crab cakes

The crab cakes at Maggie's Restaurant & Pub at 310 E. Green St. are so good that they are bought and shipped all over the country. Also, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. every night, Jimmy Buffett fans can enjoy beer specials.

5. Best place to get fried rice (and be treated to a show)

Sakura Japanese Steakhouse at Westminster Shopping Center has chefs willing to entertain you while creating a plethora of dishes.

6. Best place to get Mexican food

Casa-Rico at 400 W. Center St. not only serves delicious fare, but also deducts 15 percent from the bill if you are a police officer, firefighter or member of the armed forces. And if you eat there on your birthday, your entree is free.

Things to do other than football

Fruit and vegetable lovers can get their fill of fresh produce at either the Carroll County Farmers Market on Smith Avenue (7) or the Downtown Westminster Farmers Market in the Conaway parking lot at the corner of Railroad Avenue ( Maryland 27) and Emerald Hill Lane (8). The Carroll County fair at the Carroll County Agriculture Center (9) runs until Friday. The Carroll County Farm Museum at 500 S. Center Drive (10) is a popular site.

Did you know?

Westminster is the birthplace of R. Sargent Shriver, the driving force behind the Peace Corps and in-law to the Kennedy family. Just outside Westminster is the farm where American writer and Communist Party member Whittaker Chambers hid what became known as the "Pumpkin Papers," an envelope allegedly filled with evidence documenting Alger Hiss' membership in the Communist Party. Westminster is a partner city with Paide, Estonia.

Camp schedule

Today Players report to McDaniel College

Tomorrow Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:25 a.m.; 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.; 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (ST)

Wednesday Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.; 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Thursday Practice 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (ST)

Friday Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.; 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Saturday Scrimmage vs.Washington, noon, M&T; Bank Stadium

Aug. 5 No practice

Aug. 6 Morning practice closed to public; 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 7 Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.; 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (ST)

Aug. 8 Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.; 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 9 No practice

Aug. 10 Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.; 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 11 Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.; 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (ST)

Aug. 12 Practice 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Aug. 13 Preseason game vs. Philaldelphia, 7 p.m.

Aug. 14 No practice

Aug. 15 Practice 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 16 Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.; 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 17 Practice 8:15 a.m. to 10:35 a.m.; 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. (ST)

Aug. 18 Practice 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. (break camp)

Aug. 19 Preseason game vs. New York Giants at M&T; Bank Stadium, 8 p.m.

Aug. 25 Preseason game at Washington, 8 p.m.

Aug. 31 Preseason game at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.

Notes: ST denotes special teams; practice times subject to change

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