PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Near the sign reading "So Many Women,

So Little Time," a woman in a black minidress stood patiently

at the bar waiting for New York Mets pitchers David Cone,

Bret Saberhagen and John Franco to remember she still was


"I just wanted to thank you for the drink," said Kelly

Delgatti, 33, looking wistful and holding a napkin for Cone

to autograph. "It was great to meet you guys."

Less than 24 hours later, dressed in the same form-fitting

outfit, Delgatti stood shivering by the fence at Thomas

J. White stadium, waiting for the Mets to come out of the


"We followed them down here for spring training," said

Delgatti, a nurse from Connecticut who was on vacation with

a girlfriend. "We have some of their autographs. We're

dying to get to know them better."

Delgatti is among the legions of women who descend on Florida

for spring training, which is ending this weekend as the

regular season opens Monday. They can be found at stadiums

throughout the Grapefruit Loop - from Dodgertown in Vero

Beach, Sarasota, Kissimmee and Winter Haven, to Fort Lauderdale.

Some, like Delgatti, are diehard fans who want nothing more

than to watch the game, meet some players and get some sun.

Others have a little more in mind.

Nicknamed "Baseball Annies," they form the vortex where

sex and sports collide. These women are essentially groupies

who make themselves available to players.

What takes place inside bars and outside clubhouses is a

dangerous dance between rich, young men whose prayers have

been answered too soon and women looking to them to answer

prayers of their own.

Annies were immortalized by actress Susan Sarandon in the

1988 film, "Bull Durham." In the movie's most memorable

line, her minor-league love, Kevin Costner, promised her

"long, slow, deep kisses that last three days."

The reality is less romantic.

A New York City woman recently accused three New York Mets

players of raping her last year. An $8.1 million civil suit

was filed against Cone last week, accusing him of luring

two women into the bullpen at Shea Stadium and masturbating

in front of them.

"They consider women sex servants, sex objects, and they

want you totally under their control," said Phyllis DeLucia,

28, of West Nyack, N.Y., one of the women who filed suit.

"They hate being turned down. If they buy you a drink,

they think they own you."

DeLucia said she never slept with any players and only accompanied

her friend and co-plaintiff, Debra Hittelman, 28, who dated

pitcher Sid Fernandez for several years. Their suit includes

an allegation of slander against Cone for calling them groupies.

"In Florida, the girls are just lined up with hardly any

clothes on, it's like `pick me, pick me,"' Hittelman said.

"These guys are spoiled, they have too much money, and

they're the worst womanizers in the world."

Baseball wives, usually conservatively dressed, bejeweled,

often with kids in tow, sit behind the plate whenever they

meet their husbands on the road. Baseball Annies usually

sit alone near the dugouts and linger alone by the clubhouses

after a game.

After hours, they frequent the same bars as the players:

Jox in Jupiter, the Funhouse in West Palm Beach, Hooters

in Clearwater, Cruzan's and Sips in Port St. Lucie, Bobby's

in Vero Beach.

It's a hard, fast, raunchy world, powered by Top 40 hits

throbbing from speakers, bikini and wet T-shirt contests,

and trays of brightly colored $1 shooters - your choice

of Sex on the Beach, Nuclear Kamikazes, Woo-Woos and straight


Jox is where a 31-year-old Manhattan woman said she met

Dwight Gooden, Daryl Boston and Vince Coleman on March 30

of last year. She said they later raped her at Gooden's

rented Port St. Lucie home. The players have not responded

to the accusation.

But men are not always the villains; women are not always


"They're famous. Everyone wants to go out with someone

famous," said Yolanda Fields, 18, explaining the allure

of baseball players as she waited outside the Mets clubhouse

with a friend. Fields has gone out with a Vero Beach Dodger

several times but wants to meet a New York Met.

Some women date minor leaguers, some date major leaguers,

some bounce between both.

"They're typical jackasses," said Kai Pehlman, 24, who

has dated a St. Lucie Mets player and a New York Met. "When

I met them, I thought they were nice. Then I got myself

in a situation where I shouldn't have."

Pehlman said she met a player at a bar one night and he

invited her to dinner the next day. He asked her to pick

him up at his hotel.

"When I got to the room, he was just real pushy and aggressive,"

Pehlman said.

"Let's put it this way," she said. "He had no intention

of taking me out to dinner."

Tina, 44, a widowed massage therapist who did not want her

last name printed, tells haltingly of being raped last year

by a St. Lucie Met. Then, she shakes her head and looks


"I'm not sure if I should call it rape," she said. "We

were all pretty drunk."

Tina has dated various St. Lucie Mets for several years.

So has her 21-year-old daughter. It was fun, she said. The

players used to leave her complimentary tickets for games

under code names.

"One guy made me a flower out of a napkin," she said.

"Another one wrote me a poem."

One night, she went out to a bar with a group, including

a St. Lucie Met and his friend.

"We were drinking a lot of beer and tequila shooters,"

she recalled. "We left and the guys took me to a boatyard.

He took me inside this place that looked like a big hangar."

Tina barely remembers having sex with the player. Later,

she learned that he had planned for his friend to come along

and have sex with her, too.

"When I woke up the next day, it wasn't something I felt

good about, but I couldn't remember if I had a choice about

it or not," she said.

Darlene Rainieri, 32, who owns a nail salon in Port St.

Lucie, stood by the bar at Cruzan's on a recent night dressed

in a low-cut blue tank dress. She had nothing but praise

for the Montreal Expo she dated a few times last season.

"He was nicer to me than the guys who live around here

are," she said. "And I know the deal. Any girl knows it's

only seasonal. He called me a couple times from the road,

but that was it. I didn't mind."

Several wives of baseball players refused interviews, saying

they had been warned by team management not to talk.

But Janine Silva, 29, of Boston, who has dated Montreal's

Ken Hill for two years, said it is difficult to maintain

the long-distance relationship.

"The women are everywhere, and they're so quick to hand

out their numbers," said Silva, who met Hill at a nightclub

near Boston and didn't know he was a baseball player. "I

always tell Kenny, `I love you for who you are, not who

you represent."'

Silva hopes to marry Hill. Until then, she relies on the

other wives and girlfriends to buoy her spirits.

"The wives and girlfriends are very tight," she said.

"We say to each other, `You see him with someone, you let

me know!' We all have that cloud over us. It's like a common