BALTIMORE Ä For 13 days, Eric Cotton has braved wind, rain, searing sun and dark of night on a bar roof, protesting baseball's ongoing strike with only the aid of almost every modern convenience known to man.
Two tents, a mattress, cable television, a phone, lawn furniture, compact discs and room, or rather, roof service have eased the ordeal for the 23-year-old bartender and graduate student.
He readily admits the vigil is a publicity stunt dreamed up by his boss.
"It took a little coaxing, but not very long," said bar owner Vince Poist. "He's a little crazy."
But Cotton says he's sitting his ground to bring attention to people being hurt financially by the strike.
Pickles Pub is directly across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and is normally packed with fans before and after games.
"We make 70 to 80 percent of our money during baseball season. This is paying for my graduate studies," Cotton said Wednesday.
"I've paid for the fall semester, but not the spring. Right now, I'll probably have to take the spring off and work to make more money.
"We're trying to draw some attention to how bad this is hurting the small people, the non-millionaires."
Cotton worked two days a week before the strike, making up to $300 on game nights. He hopes to continue working at the bar once he begins his teaching career.
He said he is not being paid during his vigil, but he is getting free food. One customer even sent Cotton $10 along with a note of support.
"The note said 'I worked my way through college at Dodger Stadium, stick with it.' He said the strike in '81 hurt him. Ten dollars was all he could afford, but he said he knew what I was going through," Cotton said.
Other than trips to a bathroom inside the building, Cotton has not left the roof, although he is allowed visitors. He showers and washes clothes when it rains.
The protest has allowed him to work on his tan and catch up on reading.
It's also given him a new perspective on humanity.
"There's a lot more bald people in the world than I thought," he said.
Cotton said he will come down Oct. 2, the end of the regular season, if the strike doesn't end before that, missing two weeks of classes.
Representatives for both sides met in New York on Wednesday, but Cotton said he was not optimistic.
"If I get down before my classes start that will be a plus, but I'm not counting on it," he said. Read Next Article