THE STRIKE HITS HOME
Fallout from the walkout reaches TV programmers, merchants, fantasy-league players
BOSTON — IF Major League Baseball were up and running, crowds of people would be strolling into Arthur D'Angelo's store to buy hats, pennants, and T-shirts. The familiar smell of hot dogs and peanuts would be wafting across the street from Fenway Park, and vendors would be shouting ''Get your programs here!'' outside his Twins Enterprises.
''We'd usually be busy right now, if baseball were being played,'' D'Angelo says. ''But instead, the store is dead.''
The huge souvenir shop depends on the more than 2 million fans who attend 82 Red Sox home games each season. No games means few pedestrians on Yawkey Way and even fewer customers.
''Business has been devastating,'' D'Angelo says, shaking his head. ''We never thought the strike would last this long. We don't know what moves to make.''
D'Angelo says he makes 60 percent of his profits during the baseball season. He has lost 35 to 45 percent of his profits because of the strike, forcing him to lay off his part-time employees.
D'Angelo's business started in 1944 and has grown into one of the largest sports stores in the country. Because his suppliers are located as far away as Taiwan and China, he orders merchandise five months in advance. With business slow, 300,000 to 400,000 boxes of merchandise sit in warehouses.
But even if Major League Baseball were to resume tomorrow, D'Angelo considers the season over. ''We lost our two best months,'' he says. ''Fans are losing interest in baseball. They're looking to football now.''
D'Angelo has weathered other strikes, including the one in 1981 that lasted for more than 50 days. ''We've been through hard times before,'' he says. ''We are survivors.''
In the meantime, workers at D'Angelo's factory in Boston are making football headwear and spring-training baseball caps with Grapefruit League logos, instead of baseball playoff and World Series hats. ''I've already planned for no more baseball this year,'' D'Angelo says.
But the strike goes beyond money.
''I have had tears in my eyes,'' D'Angelo says. ''I'm the greatest fan. I sit in Box 38, right by home plate.
''The streets are crying,'' he adds. ''The joy is gone.''