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Baltimore Won’t Have Baseball Until the Real Orioles Return

March 30, 1995

BALTIMORE (AP) _ The owner, the fans _ even the state government _ will accept no substitutes or reasonable facsimiles.

Opening day in Baltimore has been put on hold because Peter Angelos has refused to field a replacement team during baseball’s labor dispute. He is the only one of 28 owners to declare, in effect, that no baseball is better than replacement baseball.

Angelos’ stand has agitated his peers but endeared him to season-ticket holders who would prefer to stay home rather than watch someone other than Cal Ripken play shortstop for the Orioles.

State lawmakers also have difficulty accepting replacement games.

A bill that Gov. Parris Glendening signed into law earlier this week bars teams using substitute players from playing at Camden Yards. The law was designed to block the American League from having its own replacement team play at the stadium.

If not for the strike, Camden Yards would be filled to capacity Monday for the Orioles’ opener against the Chicago White Sox. President Clinton might have thrown out the first ball, and minutes later Phil Regan would have gotten his first crack at calling the shots as a big-league manager.

Instead, the stadium will be locked and the tarpaulin will remain tautly stretched over the infield. Orioles spokeswoman Julie Wagner said the team has no plans to stage an alternative event at the stadium Monday.

``But we’re working on something big for the real opening day,″ she noted.

AL president Gene Budig on Thursday ordered the Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers to cancel their trips to Baltimore for the first two series of the season.

``Orioles managing general partner Peter Angelos has advised the league ... that he will not field a team for the first two series of the season,″ Budig said. ``The White Sox and Rangers, therefore, have been directed not to travel to Baltimore, and plans to send umpiring crews for the two series have also been canceled.″

Despite the strike, the Orioles say an estimated 27,500 season tickets have been sold for the upcoming season. The team has taken a wait-and-see approach before setting up a refund policy for games not played.

``We’ve pretty much worked up all the details, but there’s really nothing we can do until the strike is settled,″ said Joe Foss, vice chairman of business and finance.

``The fans who have put the money for tickets have done it in good faith, and we will stick by them. We will definitely return all money for games not played,″ Foss said.

Chuck Michelson, 39, opted not to renew his season tickets because of the uncertainty surrounding the 1995 season.

``I feel like I’m in limbo,″ he said. ``My life has always cycled around baseball. Every spring you gear up for baseball, whether you’re playing yourself or getting ready to watch the Orioles.″

Ever since the NFL’s Colts left town in 1984, Baltimore fans have rallied around the Orioles. The city’s new Canadian Football League team drew sizeable crowds in its inaugural season last year, but that was partially because the Orioles didn’t play any baseball after Aug. 12.

There is really only one game in town. With the possible exception of the Preakness, opening day is the biggest sports event of the year in Baltimore.

That’s why the Marriott Hotel at the Inner Harbor is staging a rally with the theme, ``Opening Day Anyway.″ Dave Lycette helped organize the event, which will feature baseball food, cheerleaders and the Orioles’ mascot.

``Baseball is a vital part of Baltimore, economically as well as psychologically. Baseball is the glue that holds this city together,″ Lycette said.

``Opening day in Baltimore is sort of like Mardi Gras _ one big party,″ he said. ``People come from miles around just to be a part of the event.″

Like the sighting of a robin, the first Oriole game is symbolic of the changing of the seasons.

``There’s nothing to look forward to at the end of winter this year,″ said Carole Woehlke, 43, a registered nurse. ``Opening day is usually the first sign that spring is getting here. Not this year.″

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