The chance of a baseball fan's lifetime became a $900 disappointment last week as Diane Breeden, a 15-year-old Manassas resident, found that even bat girls get the blues.
It began in June when Breeden's parents, a retired printer and a local journalist, drove their daughter to Baltimore to the Oriole Wives annual auction to benefit the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
Passing up a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., for Brooks Robinson's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a chance to harvest Earl Weaver's tomato plants, the Breedens were high bidders in the most popular item of all: Oriole Bat Boy or Girl for a Day.
Only, as it turned out, when the Breedens got to Memorial Stadium on Aug. 25, Diane Breeden was only Bat Girl for Three Innings.
"It was really disappointing," said Diane Breeden, a student at Osbourn High School and the only girl to play in the Greater Manassas Baseball League's Babe Ruth division.
"Nobody ever said it would only be three innings. It said Oriole Bat Girl for a Day . . . . They didn't even let me sit in the dugout. I had to sit on a chair outside and there was a camera blocking my view of the dugout. I couldn't talk to the players or anything," Diane Breeden said.
Oriole spokesman Drew Sheinman said that in the six-year history of the auction, Bat Boy for a Day had always meant Bat Boy for two or three innings.
"That's the way it was designed," Sheinman said. "The job as a bat person is a responsible position, so we don't want the bat person for a day to work the beginning or the end of a game, when things may get crucial.
"As it was, I think she got her money's worth. In the past, we've had people pay up to $1,600 to do it."
Diane's mother, Nancy Breeden, a reporter for Potomac News, was equally disappointed in the outcome. "The way we figured, $900 is a lot of money, but if you have a child that just worships the Orioles like Diane does, the thrill to be on the field and to talk to the players would be worth it."
"The main question in my mind," said Nancy Breeden, "is why they restricted these youngsters to two or three innings? Why are they so selfish with the youngsters? Why can't they give them the whole game? There's no reason not to. It was advertised as Bat Girl for a Day. But that wasn't a whole day."
During her three-inning stint, Diane Breeden, who plays first base, did get one extra added attraction. Her idol, Oriole first baseman Eddie Murray, spoke to her.
"I was kneeling near the warmup circle with the regular bat boy," Diane Breeden said, "and he leaned over and said 'If this boy gives you any trouble, let me know and I'll take care of him.'
"That was pretty neat. I smiled and didn't say anything.
"I was surprised, but it wasn't worth $900."