Standing room at a premium on Flag Court

Some call the Flag Court the party deck, and the general-admission patio above right field fit the description as delirious fans traded high-fives, started chants, drained beverages and hollered at Tigers players 90 minutes before game time. But beneath the levity was a quiet battle for terrain.

Brian Mills of Hagerstown, in his best Oriole-orange mohawk, sunglasses, beads and dyed beard, arrived three hours before the gates opened but still found himself in the second row.

He stood pretty much in the same spot near the right-field foul pole two years ago as the Orioles faced the Yankees in a playoff game, but that time he'd made his way to the fence.

Mills, 42, had to use the bathroom that night, he said, but no one would promise to hold his position, so he battled nature until the O's completed their victory.

Two young men held the spot Thursday, and Mills eyed them coldly.

"Those guys move, all bets are off," he told fellow fan Mari Bonds of Federal Hill.

A few yards away, Faye Park, 29, a nurse, gripped the fence overlooking center field as though it were a raft at sea. She talked a bit of baseball with Garry Failor, 41, a new acquaintance from Carlisle, Pa., but seemed just as focused on keeping her spot — and using her feet to cordon off space for Ashley Lippert, a friend who had gone for refreshments.

Lippert, 26, returned, reclaimed her position, threw an arm around Park and hoisted a cold one.

"Now this is a friend," she said.

Jonathan Pitts

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