Orioles and other local events mull bolstered security after Boston Marathon bombings

Visiting the area while on a field trip, Karla Rogstead of Lake Mills, Iowa, has her bag searched by Francis McGrath as she enters Camden Yards before Tuesday night's Orioles game.

A visibly increased police presence greeted Orioles fans Tuesday as they ventured to Camden Yards for Baltimore's first major sporting event since the previous day's deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Nonetheless, fans, players and team officials spoke defiantly of refusing to give up day-to-day pleasures because of the specter of terror.


"There are so many places where someone could do so many things that you can't worry about everything," said Kevin Ridgely of Severna Park, who attended the game with his 19-year-old son, Will. "You have to live your life."

Sporting events — from the 1972 Olympics in Munich to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta — have long been terrorist targets. Fears and precautions increased in Baltimore and around the country after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But until Monday's twin bombings in Boston, the American sporting landscape had been untouched for many years.


The Orioles did not reveal the specifics of their security response other than to say they spoke with Major League Baseball officials and local authorities to review their practices.

"Everyone is comfortable with our existing security measures," said club spokesman Greg Bader. "There are certainly measures we've taken that are stepped up, but we're not revealing details."

No one had to look far for signs of heightened security. State police vehicles lined the streets around the ballpark. Officers walked the parking lots, scouring for anything out of the ordinary. Bomb-sniffing dogs paced the halls, a precaution normally reserved for heavily attended games such as Opening Day.

The Orioles also held a moment of silence before the game for the three killed and the more than 170 wounded in the Boston attacks. The flags in center field flew at half-staff.

Ballpark officials met with the Orioles just before batting practice to review security policies and answer questions.

"It's uncharted territory to some extent," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said when asked if he expected an air of unease.

But he praised security staff at Camden Yards. "There's a reason why that hasn't happened, and a lot of things go on that we won't see," he said. "We've got a lot of confidence in the people who are equipped and trained for that."

Players also said they would take the field without worry.


"It's something that could happen anytime, anywhere," catcher Matt Wieters said. "Anytime something like this happens, you have to reassess your security measures, which is only going to make them tougher. Hopefully people take heed of that and realize that sports arenas and ballparks are going to be doing everything they can to prevent something like this from happening."

The Orioles' opponents Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays, played in Boston on Monday morning and left for the airport just as the bombs went off.

Rays manager Joe Maddon said his heart was with the victims, but he added that he didn't expect fear to pervade public events in the days to come.

"I don't think so. I really don't," Maddon said. "I want to believe it was an isolated incident that was planned for that one particular moment. I don't want to become paranoid. I don't think we need to become paranoid as a nation. We just have to work our way through it, find the answers and keep moving forward. But do not permit people like that to scare you."

Elsewhere in Baltimore, the bombings also set off renewed security preparations for organizers of the city's other major events such as the Preakness, Baltimore Grand Prix of Baltimore and Baltimore Marathon.

Maryland Jockey Club president Tom Chuckas said he has already reached out to the federal, state and local agencies that work the Preakness. This year's race will be run May 18, and, like Boston's marathon, it is seen as a defining event for the city.


"What happened in Boston, that's always the thing you worry about as someone who runs a large event, especially one that has so much meaning to a place," Chuckas said. "Obviously we'll review what we do again, but we've had very strict measures in place for quite some time."

Chuckas said he had been asked by several agencies not to discuss their involvement. He also would not say how many total officers work Preakness, which draws more than 120,000 people to the Northwest Baltimore track. The MJC hires a private security firm, he said, which provides "hundreds" of employees who focus much of their work on searching through coolers and backpacks that could be used to transport firearms or explosives.

Tim Mayer, general manager of the Grand Prix of Baltimore auto race, said race and government officials have worked out protocols to cover a variety of scenarios that could occur during the Labor Day weekend event downtown. A joint task force, led by the city's department of emergency management, coordinates the effort.

While praising the procedures already in place, Mayer said the Boston tragedy will force event organizers across the country to re-evaluate their disaster plans. "We may find, after our discussion, that we're satisfied with what we have in place," he said. "But anyone who rests on their laurels given what happened would be pretty foolish."

Dave Gell, a spokesman for the marathon, said organizers of the Oct. 12 event will meet with police and the office of emergency management to review existing plans. One possible change might be requiring runners to carry their belongings in clear bags.

Like Boston's marathon, however, the race will always present a security challenge because it's run through public streets without fixed points of entry for spectators.


"We're trying to wait for the lessons to be learned from Boston," said Gell, who estimated 75,000 people will converge on downtown for the event.

At Camden Yards, fans said they appreciate extra security efforts but deemed buoyancy of spirit the best defense.

"You only live once," said Tracy Kahl, who was visiting from Iowa for a downtown conference. She briefly wanted to fly home after news of the bombings broke but walked into the ballpark confidently Tuesday.

"I kind of would rather live in a blue-sky world, where people are nice to each other all the time," she said.


Baltimore Sun reporter Chris Korman contributed to this article.