We’ve all watched movies or read books that depicted some sort of a time machine. A character would enter the time machine and get to experience a bunch of memories from the yesteryears, hoping and praying that they’d be able to fend off the incoming reality and stay in the past for the remainder of time.
My memories of the Orioles early in my life have always stayed with me, but they’ve dimmed as I’ve gotten older. I remember my first day of Pre-K, my First Communion, my first day of middle school, my first baseball game as a little leaguer, etc. Fitting right in with those memories are memories of sitting in the left field stands with my mom in the mid 90s when we had to order our tickets at the beginning of the year to make sure we got good seats for the games we wanted to go to.
I faintly remember sitting in left field watching B.J. Surhoff and Brady Anderson patrol the outfield as the fans were hanging on every single pitch. I remember when fans really associated with the players on the field, and welcomed them as part of their Baltimore family.
But again, as time has passed and losing seasons have amassed, the details of those memories have faded.
Until last night, when I entered into my own personal time machine as I walked into Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The ceremony was really special and something that I’ll probably always remember. It was evident from early on that this was going to be a special night. It wasn’t going to be a bunch of fans attending the game simply because they got free tickets or because they wanted to take home a bronze statue to put on E-bay. I knew last night would be different, but to what extent? I wasn’t sure…
I started to get an idea of just how different this warm September night would be when Jason Hammel threw his first strike. The crowd erupted. Like, literally erupted. J.J. Hardy made two really nice plays to start the inning as Jason Hammel set down the first two Yankees he faced in his return from the disabled list.
Then something really, well, crazy happened. Jason Hammel threw strike two to Robinson Cano. Fans started to stand. More fans got up. And more. And more…
Every single person in the stadium was on their feet, urging Jason Hammel to strike out Robinson Cano. There wasn’t anything on the scoreboard urging the fans to stand up. There wasn’t any lame applause sound effect being played over the loud speaker. Rather, it was just a pure moment of baseball joy that engulfed the 46 thousand fans that packed the most beautiful sports stadium in the world. It was pretty special.
Even more special was the bottom of the inning. J.J. Hardy singled with one out, as did Nate McLouth. Adam Jones brought Hardy home to give the O’s the 1-0 lead, and then Matt Wieters stepped to the plate.
On the first pitch, Wieters, who in 2009 made the most anticipated rookie debut in recent Orioles history, once again penned his name into the Orioles history books as he tomahawked a three run home-run into the left field stands. With one swing, Matt Wieters and the rest of his Orioles teammates announced to the city, and to the world, something that I would have laughed at five months ago.