Being Thrift with mounting debt and wringing the Belle with an insurance policy

August 16, 2017 | Nestor Aparicio

and to cover up the dirty little secret around town.

For the first time in 30 years, the Orioles were No. 2 in the hearts and minds of local sports fans and the Ravens were the toast of the town.

The one holdover from the halcyon days of Orioles baseball, Cal Ripken, spent the final months saying goodbye to the franchise as the man credited with “saving baseball” by many after the 1994 strike started to show the wear and tear of 20 seasons in the big leagues. He announced his pending retirement in June and homered off of Chan Ho Park at the 2001 All Star Game at Safeco Field in Seattle, winning his second MVP of the summer classic after taking the honor in Toronto in 1991. Earlier in the game, then-elected shortstop Alex Rodriguez insisted that Ripken switch to play his old position for one night.

The end of the Iron Man was near.

Ripken pulled himself out of the lineup to end his massive streak in September 1998. Over the final three seasons of his career, the former Iron Man was oft-injured with back pain. His No. 8 jersey was retired before the final game of the season and he quickly moved to pursue his dream of supporting youth baseball and owning a series of minor league baseball teams, including placing a team in his hometown of Aberdeen, Maryland, near his family and where he played ball as a child.

With minor league teams playing throughout the state – in Frederick, Bowie, Hagerstown and Salisbury, Angelos had to agree to allow Ripken to open for business in Aberdeen. Keep in mind, Angelos and the Orioles were bleeding money at this point and the clubs throughout the state were offering a much cheaper “night out” for baseball with families. This was no small “give” to Ripken, who would be drawing another 150,000 baseball fans to Aberdeen each summer instead of Camden Yards.

But the Cal Ripken era wasn’t the only era coming to an abrupt ending for the Orioles.

On September 2, 2001 a long-festering fissure in the Orioles chain of minor league talent – or lack thereof – was finally addressed by Rochester Red Wings owner Naomi Silver, whose family via her father had been in business with the Baltimore Orioles for 41 years. Silver was very vocal with her hometown newspaper, The Rochester Democrat Chronicle, regarding her frustration with Peter Angelos and the quality of players the franchise was sending to her club.

In 1999, then-GM Frank Wren was put in the less-than-envious position of sitting in Silver Stadium in Rochester attempting to negotiate a three-year contract with Silver as her fans cascaded boos on Albert Belle, who two weeks earlier put a petition up in his locker urging his teammates to boycott the game