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Dave Reardon

Points East

By Dave Reardon

Monday, August 30, 1999


Sorry, Fenway, Oriole
Park is the best

BALTIMORE -- Sheets of rain. Two teams going nowhere. Fidgety kids. It's pouring rain. Small beers for $4, a sandwich for $6.50.

And did I mention rain?

My bad. Maryland suffers a drought all summer, and I choose the weekend that nature picks for its make-up call to visit my sister and insist on a trip to Camden Yards.

Boog Powell had the sense to stay home, but 40,000 others didn't.

We got very wet and we didn't see a baseball game. But we left beaming - we were returning to this wonderful place the next day.

This is sacrilege coming from someone who thinks of Fenway Park as the Vatican, but Oriole Park at Camden Yards is the best. It's everything they say it is and more - like Turner Stadium in Atlanta, it is modern and classic at the same time, with none of the synthetic feel of the cookie-cutter '70s stadiums (of which, unfortunately, Aloha Stadium is one).

It's the fans and the employees who make the place extra special. Someone forgot to tell these knowledgeable and gracious fans - who have seen much better teams - that the O's are just not very good. Workers clean the place continuously during the game. And the ushers make you feel like honored guests in a museum, even when they see you sneak down into the unused corporate box seats.

We said howzit to Mike Fetters during batting practice, who, like so many of the Orioles, is battling injuries. Fetters, the veteran reliever out of Iolani, has six loose bone chips in his right elbow.

The weather was better Saturday, and the line for Boog's autograph was longer than for his barbecue. The baseball itself was what you'd expect from two bad teams - the White Sox were in town - in late August. But no one minded much, even when Baltimore ended up giving it away.

Ryan Minor, who should have stuck to hoops, played third base instead of injured Cal Ripken. And in the way that happens only in baseball, Minor became a temporary hero by doing something spectacular only to mess up a simple, but crucial play later. His homer gave the Orioles the lead, but then he let a ball drop in behind him that a Little Leaguer from Osaka could've handled. It led directly to Chicago's winning run.

But he had help, so we made jokes about the two passed balls by Mike "How You" Figga and Ryan Minor "Ligga." My sister, Noe, used to lift batting gloves for me when she ran the merchandise stand for the Islanders, and is an astute baseball fan. So is her husband, Art.

For now, Hillary, Jack and Sammy are more interested in cotton candy.

Someday, they'll tell their kids how they saw Cal Ripken hit a three-run homer to win it in the ninth the first time they went to a big league game, and how Mike Fetters from Ewa Beach came in to get the save. Hopefully, I'll be around to call them on it. Or maybe, I'll just nod my head and smile.

Tapa

AT first glance, anyway, it looks like Nebraska volleyball really misses University High alum Fiona Nepo at setter. The two-time first-team All-American completed her eligibility last fall. The Huskers lost their first two matches without her, to Pacific and Penn State this past weekend at the NACWAA Preseason Final Four. The real shocker is the tournament was held at Nebraska Coliseum, where the Huskers hadn't lost in 65 matches.


Dave Reardon, who covered sports in Hawaii
from 1977 to 1998, is a sportswriter at the
Gainesville Sun. E-mail reardod@gvillesun.com



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