A massive crush of telephone calls made by people seeking to purchase Cleveland Indian playoff tickets Saturday sent technicians scrambling to keep general phone service in the area from striking out.
Many telephone users in Cleveland, its suburbs and nearby counties experienced what Ameritech said was a slow dial tone, in which a dial tone is not immediately available.
"The impact was greatest on long distance traffic and some local cellular calls and paging," Ameritech spokeswoman Anne Bloomberg said. "The demand was far greater than anything we or our customer [Ticketmaster] or the Indians thought would occur. To say the amount of traffic was extraordinary is probably putting it mildly."
The demand was for tickets to the team's first playoff games in 41 years. Bloomberg said problems occurred even though Ameritech had expected a significantly increased load.
Cleveland Safety Director William Denihan said some of his Emergency Medical Service crews who use a cellular phone system in the field had to switch to a backup system.
Bloomberg said 911 emergency calls were not affected by the technical problems.
In Atlanta, meanwhile, it looked as if hundreds of die-hard fans had lined up, some overnight, to buy postseason tickets for the Braves.
But many of those waited at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium were street people hired by ticket scalpers.
Dozens of men and a few women who appeared to be homeless spent Friday night in a line that stretched halfway around the stadium. When the gates opened at 9 a.m., they bought tickets and walked across the street where they turned them over to waiting men and were paid.
"They're supposed to get $50 each," said Pete Williams, 25, of Atlanta, who had spent the night in line with some of the men. "It breaks down to about $2 an hour of work for them--real exploitation."