The Baltimore Orioles, who have long tried to draw greater fan support from the Washington area, took what they hoped will be a major step forward yesterday by opening up a ticket and merchandise office at Farragut Square.

The office, located at 914 17th St. NW, on the west side of the square, will operate as the primary Orioles ticket outlet in the Washington area.

It will sell a wide variety of Oriole merchandise, ranging from T-shirts to equipment to books.

"Washington is a very lucrative market," said Bill Aylward, director of business affairs for the team. "We already had ticket outlets in this area, but our research shows that 15 to 20 percent of our fans come from this area, and the fans wanted more."

The opening of the office was accompanied by a celebration. Free soft drinks and 25-cent hot dogs were distributed to approximately 2,500 people, and Baltimore players Al Bumbry, Rich Dauer and Mike Boddicker and coach Elrod Hendricks were on hand to sign autographs.

Orioles stickers and buttons were given away, and Super-TV, the satellite television station in Northern Virginia that televises 16 Orioles home games, gave away T-shirts and raffled off a free year's subscription.

Office manager Joe Felperin said approximately 800 tickets were sold yesterday. "The opening went far beyond our wildest expectations," he said.