I hate to sound like a fatalist, but my Saturday at Calebr8tion – the Hall of Fame celebration for Cal Ripken in Towson – set off chimes of doom in my head.
Of the many baseball memories I have, my standout childhood memory centers around the ’83 season. My sisters and I had a pretty conservative childhood. There are 4 of us, and the family outings were few and far between back in those tight times. Games were watched on television, accompanied by stories of the Orioles and other players who spent their winters in Puerto Rico.
But 1983 was special. The Orioles were big winners and fans were gathering at BWI to let the team know we were all watching and celebrating, too. I don’t know if it was the fact that we lived 5 miles from BWI or that my mother’s nostaglia and excitement won over the fact that it was past our bedtime. Before my sisters & I knew it, my parents piled us in our big brown station wagon and we headed out to greet the O’s. I remember the speeches and the excitement and remember being hoisted on my dad’s shoulders to get a better look at the elation on the players’ faces.
I am glad Cal Ripken shares that memory with me. If he had the mindset of many of our present day players, we would probably have been blogging over what hat the Hall of Fame committee would induct Cal with.
And that brings me back to my doomsday. The one thing that struck me as I commiserated with a couple of fans this past weekend who had many more O’s memories than I, is that Cal’s induction is truly the end of baseball as I know it. Gone is rooting for the home team and looking to the farm for our next shining star. Gone are the lifers that will make Baltimore their permanent home and community. All of this – in the entire Major League – ends with Cal and this truly feels like an unchangeable loss.
It is my fervent hope that somehow those days come back. That the league, in this crazy season of steroid scandals and insane salaries sees what I see: that all that is good has been stripped from America’s pastime and we are getting further and further away from being able to bring that goodness back.
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