- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos might believe there are no “real” baseball fans in Washington, but the estimated 4,000 who stood in line for hours in the hot sun yesterday at Farragut Square to get autographs of the players from his sub-.500 team gave no credence to that statement.

What’s more, a sampling of the fans revealed there would be plenty of room in their hearts and wallets for the Orioles as well as a transplanted Montreal Expos team in the Washington-Baltimore area.

“It would be great to have a National League team in Washington and be able to see players from both leagues,” said Silver Spring’s Dan Erickson, taking a break from his nearby office to attend the annual Orioles’ FanFest in the District. “I’ve been to see the A’s play in Oakland and the Giants in San Francisco. If it can work there, I don’t see why I can’t it work here.

“I don’t think the Orioles are going to be harmed that much by a National League team in Washington. If we got a team, my wife and I would probably keep our 13-game Orioles package and buy tickets to the team here, too … but only if it was in Washington, not at Dulles [International Airport in Loudoun County, Va.].”

Although Robert Marchibroda, son of former Baltimore Colts and Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda, lives in Fairfax Station, he would happily support a team in the District or Northern Virginia as well as the Orioles.

“We go to a couple of games a year at Camden Yards, and having a National League team here would give baseball fans in the area the best of both worlds,” said Marchibroda, in line with daughter Jennifer and son Robert Jr. “Of course, Angelos is a businessman. It’s not whether he’ll make money or not. It’s a question of how much money he’ll make.”

Longtime Orioles bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks remembers playing against the Senators at RFK Stadium. But after a 33-year absence of the major leagues from Washington, he believes yesterday’s orange-bedecked crowd shows that D.C. now belongs to his team.

“These people are all fans, and for the most part they have Orioles regalia on,” Hendricks said. He believes the controversy over Angelos’ perceived role as the chief roadblock in the way of Washington getting a team helped draw attention to FanFest, which also featured question and answer sessions, a batting cage and a booth to test your fastball.

Some fans bleed orange, such as: the Barbour family who left Greensboro, N.C., at 3a.m. to be on hand; Dan Rosenberg of New Windsor, Md., who was first in Miguel Tejada’s autograph line at 8:30, 21/2 hours before the All-Star shortstop began signing; and Lorraine Ryan and daughter Rachel, who swooned over second baseman Brian Roberts and pledged to remain devoted to the Orioles even if the Expos relocate close to their College Park home.

“We may not have the best team, but we have the best-looking team,” Lorraine said.

But someone who works in an office a couple of floors above the Orioles’ store facing the square had very different feelings on Baltimore’s heroes, putting up a sign that read “Don’t Sell Out For One Hot Dog. Let The Expos Come. It’s Baltimore Orioles. Not DC.”

Building management quickly had the offending statement removed.

Before she headed over to the Orioles’ store for her free hot dog courtesy of the Orioles, Elnora Belk of Dumfries got in a word on the situation.

“I can’t wait for baseball to come here,” said Belk, who like many in the crowd took the day off from work to be on hand. “Mr. Angelos is so wrong. This turnout is only a small percentage of the baseball fans in this area. Our family loves baseball. We’re here not just to support the Orioles but to support the game.”

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