Kelly green and gold. It would go on to be a significant sports color pattern for me: my Pop Warner football team’s colors (we were the Packers, basically) and high school colors at Dundalk High were green and gold.
In the mid 1970′s, I always liked seeing the California Angels come to town because they had Nolan Ryan, Frank Tanana, and my then-favorite player, Bobby Valentine.
One time my Pop took me to the ballpark against his will to see Valentine play, just to shut me up. (He’d later get stuck doing this with Sixto Lezcano as well, every time the Milwaukee Brewers would come to town).
Valentine thanked me by getting thrown out in the top of the FIRST inning by arguing balls and strikes. Every time I’ve ever been in a room with him, he talks to me and we laugh about it.
I must’ve wanted a brick pretty bad, because one time early on — let’s say 1974 or so — I cracked my head open on the cement portals trying to cut the corner tight (and remember those goofy, one-inch steps the joint had?). I got stitched up in the first aid office and they brought me a bag of cool Orioles stuff to take home. I still have a feint scar near my eye from the facer I took into the wall.
So, I suppose I have an actual “war wound” from Memorial Stadium. That’s even better than a brick, I think!
Not everything about baseball was fun or limited to 33rd Street.
I was with my paternal grandfather in the car the day Thurman Munson died in a plane crash. The Orioles were the first team to play the Yanks after his death.
The experience of going to 33rd Street wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t tell you the most fun part that didn’t include the stadium at all.
Taking the No. 22 bus outta Highlandtown from Bank Street behind Epstein’s was an adventure onto itself. The bus rides were legendary in one way or another.
Drunks, fans, kids, people just trying to get home from shopping or work. I saw it all. And again, my parents NEVER, EVER drove, so the bus was a very routine part of our lives. Later in the 70′s, My Pop and I both had Mass Transit Administration monthly passes and he bought them the first of every month at the Hochschild Kohn’s at Eastpoint Mall.
First we’d walk up to Eastern Avenue and grab the No. 23 bus and we’d get off on the first stop through the bridge in Highlandtown, across from Goldenberg’s.
Every night I’d work to carve my name on the red brick wall on Bank Street before we grabbed the No. 22. Maybe I oughta go over there and see if it’s still there?
We’d go to G&A Coney Island Hot Dogs and load up. Or we’d stop into Rivera’s Pizzeria, still the best pizza I’ve ever tasted, probably because