I got the press release yesterday that said the Orioles will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1989 “Why Not” season. I immediately called my friends, and we reserved a table at the ESPN Zone for next Tuesday night. Most people wouldn’t get excited about celebrating a season in which the Orioles finished in second place, but for me it was one of the greatest summers of my life.
I remember the “Why Not” video – Jon Miller saying, “It all started in Sarasota, Florida, in mid-February …”
I was 15 years old. It was my first year of high school, and the only thing that mattered was the Orioles. We didn’t have money, but my friends and I somehow managed to hop on the #3 bus and made the trek across town to 33rd Street. Then we did the old “one person runs past the usher, when he chases that person, we all run the other way into the stadium” trick to get into Memorial Stadium. That way, we only had to buy one ticket. It wasn’t right, but it was OK. Plus, we had the 10 tickets that we got from the Roy Rogers Junior Orioles kit.
What made 1989 a special year was that the team had zero expectations. Somehow, there managed to be a ton of memories and “Orioles Magic” that year.
Take Opening Day, when Steve Finley crashed into the wall and beat a Red Sox team that had Roger Clemens as their starting pitcher. Mike Devereaux hit a home run down the line to beat the Angels. Gregg Olson struck out three consecutive Oakland A’s to end a game. Then, there was Phil Bradley leading off the game with a homer during that final fateful weekend in Toronto.
Remember how much we hated Mookie Wilson? What about Joe Orsulak’s two homers when batting cleanup in a nationally televised game? How about Stan Jefferson, Larry Sheets and Jeff Ballard? It was just a fun year.
A year later, I did a school project on the ’89 Orioles. I know I have issues, but that was my team – the 1989 Orioles. Who knows, maybe someday, we will feel that magic again. Why Not?