Tag Archive | "Cal Ripken"

For one night, the “Magic” of Orioles baseball returned to Baltimore

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For one night, the “Magic” of Orioles baseball returned to Baltimore

Posted on 07 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

As much as we can credit any number of factors on the field – the Matt Wieters home run, the Adam Jones home run, the Mark Reynolds home run, the Chris Davis home run – what everyone in the ballpark at Oriole Park at Camden Yards will always remember about Sept. 6, 2012 was the energy of the crowd.

 

Last week I wrote about Adam Jones’ Twitter pleas for more support from Baltimore’s baseball fans amidst an embarrassing number of empty seats for a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox last week. Yesterday, I predicted the special nature of last night’s game simply because of the sheer volume of Orioles fans that would engage with the team inside he stadium.

 

As the Orioles Magic song says: “You make the magic happen…”

 

And last night the heroics on the field and the outcome better represented the weary and jubilant fan base more than anything that Peter Angelos has repeatedly done to extinguish the fire and passion of Baltimore Orioles fans around the world.

 

On a personal note, this is exactly why I led the “Free The Birds” walkout in 2006. It’s why I’ve been so vocal regarding the demise of the franchise and have illuminated the many reasons for the great emptiness in the city, stadium and in our hearts as Orioles fans.

 

Last night was what Baltimore Orioles baseball was about for two generations. It’s the finest example of what’s been missing since 1997 amidst a circus of mismanagement, mean-spirited and petty behavior and a flat-out awful product on the field that this city has endured.

 

The last chapter of the 2012 Baltimore Orioles is far from written and we’ll continue to chronicle it here at WNST.net and our many social media resources during the games – even the ones the Orioles won’t win during this stretch run.

 

The ballpark is sure to be electric again tonight and all week as the 2012 Baltimore Orioles have a chance to be, in the words of manager Buck Showalter, “pile divers.”

 

But Thursday night will live in the minds of fans for a long time. What a night to have a ticket for a Baltimore Orioles game and be a part of that kind of a local sporting event!

 

I’ve been doing sports media for almost 29 years and I’ll never forget the wide-ranging emotions of Thursday – from the death of Art Modell before sunrise to the emotions and love for him in Owings Mills in the early afternoon to the Cal Ripken statue ceremony to every pitch in a rollercoaster ride of a game vs. the New York Yankees.

 

It was the most exciting night of Baltimore baseball since 1979 at Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street when Doug DeCinces ignited a two-decade love affair with a huge home run to beat the Detroit Tigers.

 

You can argue for any of the Cal Ripken 2131 proceedings in 1995 or the Rick Sutcliffe Opener in 1992 or any of the playoff energy in 1996 and 1997. Obviously the 1989 Why Not? season – led by the Mike Devereaux foul-poul homer – and the 1983 World Series win will have memories to mark on our baseball journey.

 

But for a single game on a single night with the impact and the stakes being first place against the New York Yankees? And the statue dedication of Cal Ripken replete with every living legend in the history of the franchise being inside the jammed, overflowing ballpark?

 

I’ve been an Orioles fan since 1972.

 

I’ve never seen anything or been a part of anything baseball-oriented in Baltimore that was more special than Thursday night at Camden Yards.

 

The only thing that could top last night would be some playoff games next month and a parade down Pratt Street. As I wrote last week, anything is possible with this new-found Orioles Magic.

 

Onto Day 2 of a week of Baltimore sports magic.

 

Who says it’s Purple Friday?

 

Maybe, for one day at least, it’s Purple and Orange Friday?

 

And as a lifelong fan of the Orioles and the Ravens, that’s beautiful music to my ears.

 

 

 

 

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Time to “Buckle up” — there’s Orioles Magic in air for Baltimore tonight

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Time to “Buckle up” — there’s Orioles Magic in air for Baltimore tonight

Posted on 06 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

All of these wins and hours of scoreboard watching for fans of the Baltimore Orioles – and finally – tonight the city will fill Camden Yards with the “magic” that only a Cal Ripken event can exert for the Charm City.

Alas, no scriptwriter in Hollywood or even a “Major League” movie redux could’ve dreamed up the juiciness that this unexpected Baltimore Orioles pennant run has facilitated this weekend.

Last week, the stands were empty as the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox came to town.

This weekend, with the New York Yankees on the ropes and the Orioles surging and trailing the Evil Empire by just one game in the AL East, Camden Yards will be buzzing with orange energy for the first time in eight years despite the “premium pricing” methods of Peter Angelos’ staff.

In the land of pleasant living, we call it “Orioles Magic.” Berthed in 1979 under Wild Bill Hagy with Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Rick Dempsey and Earl Weaver, brought to life by a World Series win in 1983 and resurrected duing the “Why Not?” campaign of 1989, the city’s enthusiasm and genuine love for the Baltimore Orioles has been dormant for the better part of 15 years at Camden Yards under the weight of last place and its own evil ownership regime.

But tonight none of that will matter because the Orioles can beat the Yankees and go back into first place in September.

Hard to believe it was 17 years ago tonight that Cal Ripken ran his victory lap amidst the confetti and “One Moment In Time.”

And make no mistake about it, a statue ceremony and a fancy giveaway item would’ve brought plenty of people to Camden Yards tonight no matter the record of the 2012 Orioles.

But what we’re going to witness – or in my case, be a part of – tonight should truly be “magical” for any longtime fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

Despite falling out of first place with last night’s loss in Toronto combined with a Yankees win in Tampa, tonight’s game once again has first place on the line and the 46,000 who are holders of these lucky tickets should be expected to bring full O-R-I-O-L-E-S voices tonight as Camden Yards should erupt with sound where previously it’s been a bunch of excuses and reasons for why the seats are empty.

I’m going to the game tonight. And, yes, I bought a ticket.

Other than “Free The Birds” events, it’s the first ticket I’ve purchased since 2004.

It’s worth going tonight to feel the civic energy and I’ll be bellied up to the centerfield bar soaking in the energy and enthusiasm that I wrote about in 2006 when WNST led the “Free The Birds” movement.

And in as much as some have twisted my words, I’ve never wanted anything more than what we currently have in Baltimore – a relevant baseball team that brings together the community for a common cause.

I’m not sure some fans are really prepared emotionally for what tonight will look and feel like inside Camden Yards.

Internally, many of the longtime employees certainly couldn’t have had any fire drills for this. And the players on the field – Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, the core guys who have only seen the stands full of Yankees or Red Sox fans over the years – should especially soak in the noise tonight because they’ve earned the right to Baltimore’s cheers with their solid play and the excitement they’ve filled our living rooms with this summer.

I think even Derek Jeter will be taken aback because he hasn’t seen anything like this since 1997. Usually, it’s 40,000 Yankees fans beating on the home team.

It won’t be that way tonight.

This is the Baltimore Orioles chance  – players, coaches, employees and ownership alike – to drastically move the needle on the fan

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Baltimore Co Executive wants residents to support orange Thursday

Posted on 04 September 2012 by WNST Staff

Kamenetz Declares Thursday “Orange You Pumped?” day in Baltimore County

All County Citizens and Employees Encouraged to Wear Oriole Orange to Work

Towson, MD (September 6, 2012) – Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz may be attending the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, but he is tuned into ESPN, keeping track of Orioles’ late season charge to overcome the Yankees and win the division.

Getting caught up in Oriole Magic, the County Executive declared Thursday, September 6 “Orange You Pumped?” day in Baltimore County.  ”I can’t think of a better day to paint the town orange than this Thursday,” said Kamenetz.  ”Baltimore County’s resident Iron Man Cal Ripken will have his statue dedicated early that evening and the Orioles will begin a four-game series against the Yankees with a golden opportunity to shock the baseball world.  I hope everyone will wear orange to work that day, and I hope that later that night Camden Yards will be a sea of orange.  You just have to love Buck and this team.  It’s a different hero every night.”

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Cal Ripken’s mother found safe after being abducted at gunpoint

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Cal Ripken’s mother found safe after being abducted at gunpoint

Posted on 25 July 2012 by WNST Staff

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How can Baltimore simply allow the Orioles to rot like this under Angelos’ greed & profiteering?

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How can Baltimore simply allow the Orioles to rot like this under Angelos’ greed & profiteering?

Posted on 01 April 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

There’s no sense in shirking the responsibility here in Baltimore — the facts that show this community has been complicit in the damage done during this baseball free fall on the field and profiteering being done off the field by Peter Angelos via MASN. The truth is this: we get the government we deserve.

And the truth is that we get the Major League Baseball team that we tolerate as a community.

The Orioles are about to enter their 15th consecutive year of irrelevance and losing. Fans in Baltimore have turned away from the stadium by the millions instead of demanding a better product and an owner with the integrity to run the team in the best interests of the community.

The judges allowed this to happen by allowing television moguls to pass along unavoidable, mandatory charges you never know about and you vote for these judges.

Comcast (or your local cable TV provder) has passed along the “Angelos Tax” to you and you simply keep paying the bill.

The politicians allowed this to happen to the heart of Baltimore on summer nights and you elect the politicians. You elect the politicians who allow Major League Baseball an almost inarguable anti-trust exemption and public financing for stadia while they pad their pockets and Angelos shirks his “sacred responsibility” here in Baltimore to attempt to field a competitive team that stimulates interest and economic impact to the local economy.

Many local businesses and business owners – intimidated for one reason or another – all talk dirty out of the corner of their mouths to me at cocktail parties all over Baltimore yet no one except me and this radio station and web entity that I own have spoken up over the years and reported the dirty facts.

I am very proud of Free The Birds. I’m proud of being the only one to speak the truth and report the facts. I sleep well at night knowing that I’m TRYING to make a difference and get this corrected for the community.

WNST is the only free media company in the marketplace that is banned from covering the team while CBS Radio, The Sun, WBAL, Pressbox, etc. all have continued to exchange corporate media backrubs and “partnerships” while not demanding accountability from Peter Angelos.

 

Many others — from intimidated former Orioles players who need the autograph money to local fans, former season ticket holders and businesses who previously wrote a direct check to the Baltimore Orioles to sponsor the franchise — all now cough and “look the other way” while the city has been emptied of more than 2 million people every summer. The Ravens’ and their everlasting prosperity seems to only make it easier to turn away from the Orioles.

How can it be possible that local businesses downtown and at the Inner Harbor simply await the arrival of visiting fans from Boston, New York and Philadelphia in order to turn a profit off the fortunes of the Baltimore Orioles?

It’s unspeakable, shameful and YOU should be ashamed of our community for allowing it happen.

When all of this cowardice and the collective “turning of the heads” stops, perhaps the fate of the Baltimore Orioles will change?

Here’s what WNST.net is doing about this Thursday and Friday night as we hold a candlelight vigil and an Opening Day protest of the ownership and the way the team has been run into the ground for Baltimore and its baseball fans…

 

You can follow our Facebook page here and follow us on Twitter @FreeTheBirds12

 

Staying away from the ballpark and not contributing by buying tickets and $8 beers has simply not worked to correct the issues with Peter Angelos and improve the baseball team. We’ve been writing about it here at WNST.net and opining at AM 1570 for the better part of a decade.

Sometimes I think that everyone knows the dirty little secret about Angelos and

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Unlucky Chapter 13: ‘The Magic’ and ‘The Oriole Way’ got stranded on 33rd Street…

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Unlucky Chapter 13: ‘The Magic’ and ‘The Oriole Way’ got stranded on 33rd Street…

Posted on 17 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in 2006, this is Part 13 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Bseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. Please save Thursday, April 5th for some civic action regarding the demise of the Orioles in Baltimore.)

There is very little question that Camden Yards only holds a handful of good memories for most of the “old school” Orioles fans who lived through the glorious Memorial Stadium days.

Maybe you consider the Bill Hasselman vs. Mike Mussina brawl in 1993 memorable. Or perhaps that Brad Pennington head-jerking launch toward The Warehouse by Ken Griffey Jr. on that Sunday afternoon in that pretty teal jersey jogs your memory a bit.

Opening Day and Sutcliffe in 1992 was also pretty outstanding.

The night Mussina almost threw that perfect game was memorable. And how about the night he took a liner off of his face?

And the ALCS games at Camden Yards in 1996 and 1997, while not victorious, were at least memorable.

The Marquis Grissom home run. The Todd Zeile incident. The Cecil Fielder home run. The Tony Fernandez home run. Darryl Strawberry, of all people, coming back to haunt the Orioles with home run after home run in October 1996.

Our community stole the Browns from Cleveland so we might have had karma working against us for that 1997 ALCS disappointment coming to us as fans — especially after that Robbie Alomar blast at The Jake the previous fall — but the Yankees thing in 1996 was just insufferable.

On second thought, maybe we CHOOSE to not remember some of the stuff during those two WINNING seasons because we got stuck watching the World Series on TV. And there’s very little doubt that the BALTIMORE Orioles were the best overall team in baseball throughout that ’97 season.

My feelings about those years are probably the same way my Pop would’ve felt about 1973 and 1974. He never talked about those years as particularly good (although he loved Rich Coggins) because 1966 and 1970 and, even 1969 and 1971, were so much better and more memorable for him.

Yeah, we were good in ’96 and ’97, and we had some big wins, but when it really mattered the most, in October — the big at-bats, the big pitches, the big plays, and in the case of Jeffrey Maier in 1996, the big calls — all were tilted mightily in the other direction when all was said and done and World Championship trophies were handed out.

Honestly, as close as we were, we CLEARLY weren’t very close at all when you saw how those games played out in October. And other than Mussina, Brady Anderson and Cal Ripken, none of those players made a dent in the heart of Orioles’ fans.

 

In his most recent public appearance/infomercial this past spring, Peter Angelos informed WJZ’s Denise Koch that “we were one pitch away from the World Series — you must remember that!”

The seats in the owner’s box must’ve shown a different set of games or “time” must’ve illuminated “the glory of their deeds.”

Because from where I sat, it looked like the better team won both years — with or without Jeffrey Maier —

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Chapter 10: Imagine a Baltimore without the Orioles

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Chapter 10: Imagine a Baltimore without the Orioles

Posted on 14 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 10 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. This is an unedited version of the original post without updates regarding Mike Flanagan’s suicide.)

Mike Flanagan is as close to an Orioles’ kindred spirit as I have in the world. Maybe Jim Palmer and Elrod Hendricks and Jimmy Tyler could be thrown in there as well, because they’ve seemed as omnipresent as my fandom of the Orioles.

But, Flanagan is really ” The One,” because in real terms, he’s been with the Orioles as long as I’ve been with the Orioles. And no one else I know, other than my Mom, has stayed in my life all of these years and still keeps popping up.

He came up in 1975, and I really started regularly going to games around that time, when I was 6.

I remember when he first came up, the expectations, the rotation — with Jim Palmer, Scott McGregor and Dennis Martinez, every night was trouble for some AL team — and I probably spent 80 nights of my life inside Memorial Stadium watching Mike Flanagan pitch.

From 1977 to 1984 he never had a sub-par season, only many very good ones and a couple of great ones. He left the Orioles just once — for two-plus years, pitching for the Blue Jays after a trade deadline deal in 1987.

In 1979, he won 23 games and led that magical team every time Earl Weaver threw him out there. It was his best year in baseball. It was mine too!

In 1992, he began his broadcasting career. That’s the same year I left The Evening Sun and went on the radio.

In 2003, he became part of “management”. In early 2005, I did the same thing.

But, even though we’ve gotten to know each other over the years — with him at one point walking up to me (when I didn’t even know he knew I existed) in the late 1990′s and admitting that he was a fan of MINE and addicted to “Nasty Nationwide” and listened every day with his daughter — on that last game at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 6, 1991, Mike Flanagan was just a childhood hero to me. He was, in some ways, larger than life because when I was 10 years old, he took the hill every couple of nights for the centerpiece of my life, the Baltimore Orioles.

Mike Flanagan was one of MY guys! My mood hung on every pitch he threw!
So on that sad-yet-uplifting and chilly October afternoon in 1991 — surrounded by a disgusting Redskins fan actually watching a football game on her laptop TV in Sect. 34 — it was me, Mike Flanagan, my memories of my youth and my best friend Kevin Eck (he keeps popping up doesn’t he!), along with 54,000 others just like us gathering for one of the biggest public tearjerkers in the history of this city.

If you didn’t spend your childhood at Memorial Stadium, you can probably stop reading or listening right around now.

Because you just won’t understand it. You couldn’t possibly think it is anything beyond silly.

It is truly a “Ball’mer thing.”

But EVERYONE who has ever loved the Orioles remembers

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Chapter 7: Finally, a 1983 World Series crown for Baltimore

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Chapter 7: Finally, a 1983 World Series crown for Baltimore

Posted on 11 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 7 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. Follow @FreeTheBirds12 on Twiter for updated information regarding our April 5th events.)

Life was percolating along very nicely for me at the end of the summer of 1983.

There was that awesome trip to St. Louis, the Orioles were doing extremely well, the Phillies (again, I was an idiot!) were busting up Montreal in the NL East, I had a new girlfriend and my junior year at Dundalk High was coming.

Despite this “long distance” romance I was having with the Phillies, I was still VERY involved in going to Orioles games. I didn’t get to as many as I had before (again, once girls came along, it was all downhill for sports!), but I still did about 20 games on 33rd Street in 1983. And, like 1979, all in Sect. 10 General Admission seats, some with my Pop and some with my pals. All of those nights on those long, gold, aluminum benches, complete with the jar-rattling volume when banged on.

And the Phillies and Orioles, it would later be proved, were on a destiny’s collision course for the World Series in October.

But en route there was the AL Championship Series against the vaunted Chicago White Sox, led by Lamar Hoyt.

My Pop landed some right field seats for Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS at Memorial Stadium and we were all set. Right before the series my Dundalk buddy John Rafalides (at whose wedding I would later be the best man) gave me a buzz and told me his Dad, Pete, had an extra seat in Sect 39, Row 19 right behind home plate upstairs and asked if I wanted it since I was such an Orioles nut.

So, my Pop actually took my Mom to Game 2 and I went with Mr. Pete Rafalides, who was just a super cool guy. He was a realtor and connected with the Greek community. He loved talking sports with me and would always feed me cool munchies when I came to his home. And I mean he FED me! He always had the coolest snacks — Doritos, Dolly Madison cakes, Tastykakes, those chocolate malt balls, all sorts of great stuff!

I caught on quickly and made sure I got to go there every year for Thanksgiving! And later in life, when John became my roommate, I got the residual effect — the baklava, pastitsio, spanakopita, the grape leaves — from every Greek holiday!

But, for whatever reason, John’s dad liked me and off went we to Game 2 — me, Mr. Pete and two of his work friends. And we hung on every pitch! And Mike Boddicker pitched his ass off, a five-hit shuout over the White Sox, and we had a paaaaaah-tttaaaay in Sect. 39 that night. “Wild” Bill Hagy was going nuts over in Sect. 34. We had binoculars and I could see my folks over in right field having fun, too. That was just one of the greatest nights, even 23 years later.
I remember the smell of the air that night, the lights in the sky, how bright the field looked from up in that perch in Sect. 39. The steepness of the seats, the people crowded into that cozy ballpark and trees lined up in the outfield.

I can’t imagine my life without that night.

It was just a beautiful thing, that night. Life was perfect!

Two afternoons later Tito Landrum hit a 3-run homer off of Britt Burns that sent me and my 64-year old Mom onto Bank Street banging pots and pans with the shot heard ’round the beltway, a blast at Comiskey Park that sent the Orioles back into the World Series for the second time in four years and the sixth time in 17 years. I’ll say that again: the Orioles were in the World Series SIX times

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Manning’s teary goodbye to Indy reminds us inevitable day for Lewis is coming

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Manning’s teary goodbye to Indy reminds us inevitable day for Lewis is coming

Posted on 07 March 2012 by Luke Jones

It’s never easy saying goodbye.

You sometimes see it coming — whether you want to admit it or not — as the fans of Indianapolis did before iconic quarterback Peyton Manning finally took the podium on Wednesday afternoon.

Other times, it comes out of nowhere to hit you like a Mack truck, with no possible way of preparing yourself.

Either way, you’re never truly ready when the moment comes.

Putting aside our city’s well-chronicled feelings toward Indianapolis and the quarterback that twice eliminated the Ravens from the playoffs, you couldn’t help but feel a lump in your throat watching a teary-eyed Manning bid farewell to the city and organization he called home for 14 years. In that moment, an option bonus, the No. 1 pick in the draft, and potential free-agent destinations took a backseat to raw emotion.

And it reminded us that day is coming all too quickly for Ray Lewis in Baltimore.

Of course, the circumstances are different. It appears — but I can’t stress enough that it’s far from a certainty — Lewis will have the opportunity to ride off into the sunset as a member of the same organization that drafted him out of the University of Miami in 1996. There is no $28 million albatross standing in the way over the final four years of Lewis’ current contract, but his cap number will grow annually (he will reportedly make just under $5 million in base salary and have a $6.85 million cap number in 2012) if Lewis holds on longer than expected and forces the organization to make a difficult decision.

But any way you slice it, the scene that played out in Indianapolis on Wednesday will be replicated with Lewis and the Ravens in some shape or form. And it will be difficult to accept.

Sports icons such as Manning and Lewis are a dying breed as time goes on, with fewer athletes sticking around for more than a handful of years in a given city. Their significance goes far beyond simple performance on the field. The former Indianapolis quarterback gave his city a real football identity detached from the stolen heritage of the Baltimore Colts while the Ravens have never played a snap of football without Lewis as a member of the organization.

That’s why it’s so silly to hear discussion of Stanford’s Andrew Luck “replacing” Manning in Indianapolis or the Ravens looking for the “heir apparent” to Lewis at inside linebacker. New players will assume their abandoned positions, but their presence remains in an almost spiritual sense in fans’ minds and hearts.

Make no mistake, the sun will rise in the morning as Indianapolis begins the first full day of the post-Manning era, and the Ravens will continue playing football in Baltimore long after No. 52 ceases dancing out of the tunnel and inflicting fear in the hearts of opposing offenses.

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Chapter 3: My Pop and Little League in Dundalk

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Chapter 3: My Pop and Little League in Dundalk

Posted on 07 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 3 of a 19 Chapter Series on How baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. If you’re as upset about the demise of the Baltimore Orioles, please save Thursday, April 5th for some civic action.)

I think the biggest part of my Pop’s revitalization as a person in the 1970′s after his son’s death wasn’t that he found a little sports buddy in me — as a bat boy and an avid baseball, football and basketball watcher — but in the abundance of energy it must’ve taken to keep up with me.

Can you imagine the energy it took a 60-year old, overweight steelworker after a full 90-degree, eight-hour day at Sparrows Point to chase a rambunctious 10-year old boy down from Section 34 in the summer of 1979? That happened every single night! Forty-two games that summer, I swear to God!

My Dad took great pride in volunteering as a Little League coach in my neighborhood, Colgate, near Eastpoint Mall. He won two league championships as the coach of the Colgate-Eastpoint Pirates in 1973 and 1974. It was a four-team league with a great parade through the neighborhood on Opening Day Saturday. It was very a very typical American kinda thing, I thought. I was the team batboy. We had our championship picture and clipping from The Dundalk Eagle on the kitchen wall from the day it was published through my father’s death in 1992. He loved coaching those kids and winning! I liked just being the batboy and being a part of baseball.

All of those “older” kids kind of took me under their wing and made me feel good. They played catch with me, pitched to me — stuff like that. And when you’re 4 or 5, that’s a pretty big deal! These kids were like 12 and 13 years old.

My Pop was such a little league wacko that one time he had a really talented kid named Ted Boccia, who wanted to be a catcher. Only problem was, he was LEFTHANDED!

He was adamant about catching and catching was my Pop’s FAVORITE position, the one he played as a kid. So, clearly being unable to find a left-handed catcher’s mitt anywhere in the known universe in 1973, he wrote to the Rawlings factory, told the story of this boy’s dream to be a left-handed catcher and they had one made and sent it to my Pop. I even think my Pop might’ve paid for it himself. Needless to say, the Eastpoint Pirates had an outstanding left-handed catcher, the only one I’ve ever seen in my life!

As for me during those years, I excelled at the greatest game ever played: waffle ball!

We played in my backyard and alley. All the neighborhood kids did.

There were no “fantasy” leagues or video games. There was APBA and Strat-o-Matic (we honestly didn’t discover those until adolescence and I loved me some “Strat” in the days when I got a little older), but we opted for good old-fashioned “put the bat through the glove” kinda ball.
ANY kind of ball, actually — wallball, wiffleball, kickball, rundown, pitcher’s handout or just plain, baseball — we’d play!

We’d play with pinkies (those soft spongy balls), we’d play with superballs, but mostly we’d play with tennis balls and wooden bats on the pavement at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on the back side of Eastern Avenue. We’d play ANYTHING but softball,

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