on Sept. 21 in our rally to FREE THE BIRDS!
Following the early 1970’s Aparicio stuff with the Red Sox, my favorite nights at 33rd Street were in the earliest incarnation of what would become the Camden Yards “club level” snobbery.
My Uncle Nelson, one of my Venezuelan relatives, worked at Chesapeake Cadillac. His son, Nelson Jr. (we called him Nelcito) was my best friend, like a big brother to me when I was that age. Once a year, Uncle Nelson would get the company “box” in Sect. 5 and we’d all go to the game. It was literally a box with railings, kinda like a horse-racing track has or R.F.K. Stadium still has them for you “young’ins.” It was a few rows behind the Orioles third-base dugout. The night I’ll never forget was the night he had tickets in the summer of 1975 when the Indians were coming to 33rd Street with Boog Powell in the other dugout for the first time. I was geeked up, sitting so close to Brooks Robinson that I could’ve played catch with him from our seat.
Of course, I ordered a 7-UP — they always were TOTALLY watered down and they came in those green cups with a tiny cellophane wrap that you had to peel the top off of gently. I took one swig and the notorious 33rd Street killer bees came after me. I got stung on the hand, blew up like beached whale and wound up leaving the game before the fourth inning. So much for those great seats! I opted to be a bleacher bum after that.
The only other time I can ever really remember having a really good seat at 33rd Street for an Orioles game was in the Spring of 1979.
For my Pop and I, going to an Orioles game wasn’t a “special” occasion. Heck, I had friends in the neighborhood that loved baseball and didn’t have a father who would ever take them to a game. Some of my friends had NEVER, EVER even been to see the Orioles play at Memorial Stadium, but still watched on TV and played Little League.
After an exhaustive search, I have come to realize that I have ZERO pictures of my Dad and I at 33rd Street. ZERO! It just never occurred to us to take pictures at an Orioles game.
Going to Memorial Stadium was something we just did — like going to the mall or something — a major part of our lives and our family. It wasn’t a “special” occasion like a birthday party or Christmas where you took pictures.
My Pop would’ve made fun of me if I had taken a camera to a game, like a Sunday tourist. He would tell me to bring my glove to the game instead, and even that annoyed him after a while because I’d make him “glove sit” while I ran around the ballpark looking for “Wild” Bill Hagy.
Sometimes Mark Elliott and I would play “aluminum foil” ballgames against the wall behind Sect. 16 and we’d always smash mustard packets on the ground with our heels and do the “cup pop,” where you folded down the ends and — “BANG” — the sound was thunderous, especially if you went up to the green lower reserved seats under the overhang.
“You wanna horse around, I’ll leave you home next time,” my Pop would bellow. “If I bring you to the game then you’re gonna watch the game or I’ll come by myself