Chapter 12: A Dundalk guy becomes a San Diego dude

March 16, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

Chapter 12: A Dundalk guy becomes a San Diego dude

(Originally published as a prelude the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 12 of a 19 Chapter Series on How baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. We’re planning some civic action on Thursday, April 5th. We hope you’ll join us an participate.)

There’s nothing like the first time you do anything in life, and that goes without saying.

That 1993 World Series experience in the streets of Toronto was super cool and hard to compare with anything that would follow.

So I suppose I could bore you with war stories about my night in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse when Ryan Klesko soaked me with champagne in the celebration, or I could tell you how cold it was in Cleveland before Game 4 of the World Series in 1995.
I could tell you that I was in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium when Wade Boggs rode the white horse and the Yankees won their first championship in 18 years on that night in 1996.

In 1997 the hangover from the Tony Fernandez made me not want to go to the World Series, but I went to Cleveland for Games 3, 4 and 5. The Series went 7 games. I only went to the middle three games because the Ravens existed at that point and I had football duty on the weekends in October.

It was during this time in my life that I discovered that seeing a city win a World Series and being in the middle of it was always a lot of fun, even in New York. I also found out during the falls and ACLS of 1996 and 1997, coming to close to winning a World Series really sucks.

And it kinda makes you not even wanna go, or even watch, the World Series at all.

For you other purple folks, imagine how hard it would be to watch the Super Bowl this February in Miami if the Ravens lost the AFC Championship Game in Baltimore to the Steelers, 20-19, on a 56-yard field goal as time expires.

Would you really want to watch the Steelers play the Redskins two weeks later?

I didn’t think so.

The World Series thing would never really be the same for me after that Tony Fernandez homer off Armando Benitez.

Because when you feel your team can’t win, you don’t really want to play. Or even pay attention to baseball at all, really.

And for a lot of others around town, and now for me as well, October is 100 percent football season — not Oriole baseball playoff season.

And that’s really a shame, because one of the greatest sports days of this generation’s Baltimore sports fandom came because they both had clout on October 5, 1997.

That was a day to remember.

The Ravens were lining up to play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Memorial Stadium (they blew a huge halftime lead and lost as Kordell Stewart went nuts) and later in the day, the Orioles would clinch a berth in the ALCS by beating Randy Johnson and the Seattle Mariners, 3-1, behind ace Mike Mussina’s two-hitter less than four miles away at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This pic of me congratulating Alan Mills (and Jeffrey Hammonds) in the Camden Yards clubhouse.

Ten days later the Orioles lost Game 6 to the Tribe downtown, and they haven’t played in a meaningful game since.

These nine years have been long and hard on anyone who ever loved Brooks and Frank and Cal and Eddie.

We want to send a message on September 21st that we’ve had enough. That’s what The Rally is all about!

When a poor kid from Dundalk doesn’t even want to go the World Series on a press pass junket anymore, something’s very wrong.

My World Series memories are all very vivid and cool to me, but 1998 was definitely my favorite.

In 1998, I finally got tickets to a World Series I could get excited about and actually root FOR a team a instead of against one.

San Diego has always been a special place in my life. Since that first trip to California in 1985 with my family, I’ve been back more times than I can honestly count — maybe 50 times, I dunno. But enough that I never need a map!

My favorite relative of all time, my Aunt Jane (she was my Pop’s sister from Scranton, Pa.) lived there high on a hill overlooking San Diego State University and Interstate 8 off College Avenue. She was an over-the-top “Reagan Republican” and had passion about two things in life: “saving” America in that Rush Limbaugh kinda way and the San Diego Padres.

She also paid attention to the Chargers and went to games, she had a cool garden and a really cool white dove that lived in a cage in her kitchen, but the Padres were right up there. She, like my Pop, had been to Yankee Stadium. She, like my Pop, absolutely LOVED baseball.

She was so involved at one point that she joined the “Madres,” which was the local community

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