Two Baseball Teams Share Baltimore
FOR the first time since 1915, a major and minor league baseball team are playing in the same city: Baltimore. The Orioles hadn't planned to share their turf with the club's Class AA affiliate, the BaySox, but construction delays of a new 8,000-seat minor-league ballpark in Bowie, Md., led to the arrangement. The BaySox, whose former home was in Hagerstown, Md., worked out a deal with Baltimore city officials to use Memorial Stadium, where the Orioles used to play before moving into the new Orioles Park at Camden Yards last year.
Keith Lupton, general manager of the BaySox, says the temporary home has worked well. "The players like it because they get to play in a major-league park - on the field where guys like Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer achieved stardom," he says. The clubhouses are also more spacious than elsewhere in the minors, and the staff of the parent club can easily drop by Memorial Stadium to check the progress of up-and-coming prospects or rehabbing major leaguers coming back after injuries.
Relatively speaking, attendance figures have been respectable, too. The BaySox average about 3,700 a game, third in their league. Still, with 50,000 seats, the ballpark can look pretty empty, Lupton acknowledges. Those who come, though, have the pick of the box seats, and for a price ($5 to $7) that is often less than half what they cost across town.
Touching other bases
* The Cleveland Indians baseball team will move into a new downtown stadium next season, affording a fresh start to a franchise in need of one. This would seem an ideal time to change the team's mascot: Critics believe that the cartoonish Indian logo used since the early 1950s is an insensitive depiction of native Americans. (See illustration, above.) Early last month, however, the club said it would stand by Chief Wahoo. Certainly, dumping him would disgruntle many traditionalists, but it would also sen d an important message that a more dignified mascot is consistent with efforts to modernize and upgrade elsewhere.
* The New York Mets are having a miserable season on and off the baseball field - Vince Coleman's firecracker-tossing incident in Los Angeles being the most recent evidence. The good news is that pitcher Anthony Young finally snapped his record-breaking 27-game losing streak. To the relief of just about everybody in baseball, it ended last week. A stoic figure during his 465-day drought, Young refused to adopt the surly attitude of some of his higher-paid teammates. Then, last Wednesday, with the score t ied 3-3 against the Florida Marlins, he was brought in to pitch the ninth inning. He didn't pitch especially well, giving up two hits as Florida scored an unearned run. But the Mets rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning for the win. He reported that in driving home, his children kept reaching from the back seat to hug him, a tender response deserving of any highlight film, especially the Mets', if only it had been taped. Soccer draws Snickers
As one would expect, a number of major American companies have made short-term commitments to sponsor next year's World Cup soccer tournament, the first ever held in the United States. Some of this support may dry up after 1994, which may explain why US soccer officials are so pleased with a new 20-year agreement to sponsor the nation's premier youth tournament. The championship immediately assumed its new name as the Snickers Cup in late July, when this year's finals in the 19-, 17-, and 16-years-and-un der age groups were played in Phoenix.
Hank Steinbrecher, executive director of the US Soccer Federation, calls it "the biggest sponsorship in the history of soccer in the US." M&M/Mars has invested in a venture with great growth potential. The youth level is "where it's at" in American soccer, and a truly well-run national tournament has the potential to generate significant public and media interest.