Flanagan on the hill…The last out…The “Field Of Dreams” music…The players coming onto the field…The tears flooding everyone’s eyes in the ballpark…And, finally, Brooks pops out of that dugout!
(Incidentally, the guy who orchestrated that entire afternoon, Rick Vaughn, who now works in public relations for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, was one of the first to leave the Orioles when Peter Angelos bought the team. He was a SUPER person and he really understood BALTIMORE and the Orioles and that community connection. The Orioles of 2006 went the entire season ignoring the 1966 World Championship team. THAT’S how things change in a city and community in 15 years and that’s one of the major problems with this ownership group.)
My Pop was not on 33rd Street that afternoon, he was getting pretty ill later in his life and lived just eight more months. He was watching on TV, but his spirit and soul were there with me just seven miles apart from where we sat that afternoon because there wasn’t a memory I had of that place — even then, when I was 22 — that didn’t in some way completely unravel and disable me and flood my tear ducts because of him.
I actually attended all three games against Detroit that weekend, and on the Saturday afternoon, all by myself, I walked over to that portal of Sect. 10 — where I walked with my father 30 to 40 nights a summer for a decade — and just sat and openly sobbed there in the corner. They didn’t have any tissues in those smelly old bathrooms and the vendors were out of napkins because the stadium was so full and it was late in the game and they were running out of everything. A hot dog vendor saw me breaking down and came over and offered me some of that waxed paper they use to serve the Esskay Orioles franks in.
I was snotting all over the place! It was a disgraceful scene!
There was just nothing like Memorial Stadium and there never will be anything like it again.
Which, of course, brings us to Camden Yards — the best (and worst) thing that ever happened to the Orioles and the City of Baltimore.
On the Friday before the Orioles were to open Oriole Park at Camden Yards in April 1992, the media was given the grand tour. There were hundreds of reporters from all over the area and the country who wanted to be there and snoop around the ballpark on that chilly morning. Remember, Camden Yards was the first retro-ballpark in the world.
Even 14 years later — that stadium — its location, its design and its Warehouse are the absolute GOLD STANDARD for every ballpark (baseball or otherwise) that’s been built since. The team even invited celebrity Orioles’ fans like Joan Jett to come along because the interest was so high. Be honest: the first time you COULD see Oriole Park, you DID!
Everyone was delectably curious!
I had just left The Evening Sun three months earlier and was finding my way on radio on WITH-AM 1230 (let’s be honest, I had about eight listeners at that point), and that day the first person I ran into was my mentor, John Steadman.
“Senor, you excited about this ballpark?” he asked me. I didn’t know what to make of the place and I honestly was a little miffed that they left Memorial Stadium, even though