For Irene Loetell, who has lived one block from Memorial Stadium since its gates were opened 27 years ago, the summer of 1981 will be remembered as the season she didn't have to listen to any home runs.
"It's been quite quiet," she said today, putting down her gardening tools and gazing at the stadium. "My husband loves baseball . . . but I should say it's been very pleasant without it."
Loetell's sentiments were being echoed everywhere yesterday in this city that has learned to live without baseball during the 50-day strike that was settled early this morning. While the Orioles' management and some merchants rejoiced at the strike's end, many fans were asking, "So what?"
Even Mayor William Donald Schaefer suggested that owners and players "really should consider the fans . . . Fans have some rights, too. The next time, they ought to consider what the impact is on the people. If there i ever another strike, the fans might think long and hard about sports in general."
"To prevent another strike I think we should strike against them, let them know how it feels," said Arthur Redd, a Social Security employe between lunchtime errands. Like many other Baltimoreans, Redd described himself as a faithful Oriole fan, but vowed to stay away from the ballpark for the rest of the season.
Other fans wre more outspoken.
"The hell with 'em. They make too much money, anyway," said Tony Tannucci, the proprietor of a newsstand at the corner of 32nd Street and Greenmount Avenue, just a few blocks from Memorial Stadium. "I've lived here all my life. I've been an Oriole fan since they played in the old International League, but the hell with them now. I ain't going back."
"Well, I'll think about it over the winter," Tannucci said.
Even local entrepreneurs who depend on the team -- its fans and employes -- for a living, were anything but ecstatic today.
"Personally, I could care less about the strike, but from a business point of view I'm glad it's over," shrugged Shirley Ennis, the manager of Godfrey's Sterr 'N Beer on Greenmount Avenue, which is packed with customers before, during and after every game and used to serve daily to many stadium employes. "It (the strike) knocked us out about $150 a game . . . it's never been so quiet here in the summer . . . I used to have streamers of the Orioles' colors up across the ceiling. I just tore them down. Here, I had done all this decoration and then they do this to me."
Indeed, the Baltimore Orioles were not the only business in this city losing money because of the baseball strike.
"His situatio;n is bad," said Christopher Hartman, a spokesman in the mayor's office. "Quite frankly, we don't want to know how bad."
However, the budget department within Schaefer's office has submitted figures to the U.S. Conference of Mayors that detail just how bad the situation is. According to the report, which was due to be filed by most cities with a major league team, the city of Baltimore was losing an estimated $20,000 per game in direct tax revenue (money from taxes on the stadium -- which the city owns -- and parking, concessions, etc.) and an estimated $60,000 per game in indirect tax revenue (money from taxes levied on sales generated in the overall city economy).
This $80,000-per game aggregate loss meant a roughly $2 million total loss for the city of Baltimore since the Orioles missed their home game on June against Texas. Nationally, the Conference of Mayors said 22 American cities had lost a total of about $10 million in direct tax income and hundreds of millions more in indirect economic costs.
In and around Memorial Stadium, news of the strike settlement brought out signs of life. A steady stream of fans waited patiently outside of the advance sales ticket window to exchange tickets for games gone by or to purchase tickets for future games.
"It gripes me. I'm mad at the players. They're getting too much damn money now," said season ticket-holder Paul Dunlap. "I don't have anything else to do in the summer; I'm retired. If I had something else to do, though, I wouldn't come back."
"I'm delighted it's over," said one woman, glaring at Dunlap and holding a handful of tickets. "But I think it's very clear that the owners were at fault. I don;'t think it's a coincidence that they came to an agreement just as the owners' insurance was about to run out and in time to hold the All-Star Game."
For Tim Geraghty, Orioles' tichet manager, the end of the strike means an end to game-day trips to the city dump to oversee the burning of unused tickets. Normally, management only burns a few thousand dated tickets after each game to prevent fraudulent cash returns. But during the strike, almost 35,000 tickets per game had to be fed through a ticket counter, checked by team auditors, then deposited in an incinerator on Pulaski Highway.
While Geraghty and others say there is "a lot of baseball left this year" and predict that fans will stream back to Memorial Stadium, many fans were saying that it isn't so.
"I'm glad it's over, but I'm not going to support them this year; it's too late," said Ray Hall, who works for a carpet cleaning company.
"Football season has started, that's the way I feel," added his supervisor, Tim Jacobs.