Tag Archive | "memorial stadium"

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

Posted on 18 August 2018 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

Posted on 17 August 2018 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

Posted on 16 August 2018 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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Chapter 4: Got any 33rd Street memories? Time will not dim the glory…

Posted on 16 August 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published in Sept. 2006 as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout, this is Part 4 of a 19 Chapter Series on how baseball and the Orioles created WNST.net. If you miss “The Oriole Way” and Baltimore’s love of baseball, please join us on April 5th for a civic action event.)

So, today I wanted to write and think about and talk about Memorial Stadium and 33rd Street and the wonder of baseball as a child in Baltimore.

Thirty-third street. The World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum. The memories, the stories, the things we saw and experienced, the words we said and heard, and the people we shared it all with.

At the end of the day, Memorial Stadium was about people.

But, honest to God, I don’t know where to begin!

Look I don’t want to get too deep, but go ahead and show me a place where more people in this community have gone, worshipped without regard to race, color, creed, religion — and all came together in a common civic bond. There were only two colors that ever mattered on 33rd Street. Orange in the spring and summer; blue from fall through the cold of winter and that was that!

As for its significance and impact on our community, there must’ve been a reason why grown men wept in the aisles there on Oct. 6, 1991 when the Orioles walked away from 37 years of history on 33rd Street. Or literally, a MILLION different reasons to ponder, reflect and pay tribute to the good times of our lives, especially for those who experience our lives through this prism that is “sports” over the last century.

Memorial Stadium is one of those places: if you were ever there and experienced any of the “Oriole Magic” then you just know what I’m talking about. And if you weren’t, there isn’t a columnist alive or any old grainy clip or any soundtrack that could ever make it as vivid and real and clear as it is to the rest of us who felt “The Magic.”

As it turned out, that giant sign with the steely letters was indeed prophetic. Major League Baseball has been gone for 15 years now and the sign said it all:
“Time Will Not Dim The Glory Of Their Deeds!”

So, instead of getting even more poetic, I’ll just tell you a few of my favorite stories.

Hopefully, they’ll remind you of yours.

And, hopefully, these incredible memories will trigger a voice pulling you downtown

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Chapter 3: My Pop and Little League in Dundalk

Posted on 16 August 2018 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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The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

Posted on 03 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 1 of future book “The Peter Principles” that I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia. I have released the first three chapters of the book, which chronicles the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. I think you’ll find much of this already-reported information to be illuminating.)

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

 

 

IT WAS HOT AS HADES in that lower Manhattan federal courtroom. Jam-packed with bidders, curiosity seekers and baseball fans, the Baltimore Orioles franchise was up for grabs on August 2, 1993, and the bidding was as steamy as the air in the room once the price began to rapidly accelerate into the stratosphere.

The fact that there was any bidding at all was somewhat surprising to Peter G. Angelos, a Baltimore attorney who had begun a power play five months earlier to purchase the Major League Baseball franchise that was being sold off via an auction nearly 200 miles away from its home on the Chesapeake Bay. In the hours leading up to the auction, Angelos managed to turn his sole competitor from a previous suspended bid for the team during June into a partner. William DeWitt Jr., a Cincinnati native whose father once owned the St. Louis Browns in the 1940s and a minority investor in the Texas Rangers, joined Angelos’ celebrity-led local group from Maryland just hours before the bidding was to begin in the sweltering Custom House. DeWitt was promised a role in the operations and management of the club.

It was an amazing coup for Angelos to pull DeWitt from being a worthy, legitimate competitor into a teammate that morning, after convincing him that he’d be involved and an influential part of the eventual winning group. It was shocking that DeWitt had pulled out because several times over the previous eight months, he was convinced that he was already the winning bidder and new owner of the Orioles.

In February 1993, after six months of lengthy, arduous negotiations on a fair price, DeWitt had entered into a deal with Orioles majority owner Eli Jacobs to buy the team for $141.3 million. Jacobs, who was in his final days of semi-liquidity and quietly on the verge of bankruptcy, didn’t have the legal authority to close the deal with DeWitt once the banks seized his assets in March. Instead, the Orioles wound up at auction five months later and suddenly Angelos – with DeWitt now shockingly a member of his ownership team – believed he would emerge victorious without breaking a sweat in the summer heat of The Big Apple.

But that afternoon, after entering the courtroom in what he believed would be a rubber-stamped win, instead he found himself embroiled in a bidding war with a stranger he never strongly considered to being a worthy foil in the fray.

Jeffrey Loria, a New York art dealer and Triple-A baseball team owner, wanted badly to be a Major League Baseball owner. Baltimore native and former NFL player Jean Fugett represented a group led by TLC Beatrice, which featured a rare minority bid for an MLB franchise on that day in New York. One bidder, Doug Jemal of Nobody Beats The Wiz electronics stores, had early interest but bowed out before the steamy auction.

That August day, the bidding began at $151.25 million, which included a “stalking fee” of $1.7 million which was originally awarded to DeWitt’s team because of his vast due diligence and legal work done months earlier when he thought he had won a deal to secure the Orioles in the spring.

George Stamas, who represented Angelos’ group during the bidding process, opened the bidding at $153 million, which was seen as a good faith gesture from the combined bid with DeWitt, which could’ve been perceived as artificially deflating the sale price by judge Cornelius Blackshear. Loria, who was a stranger to the Angelos group, immediately raised it by $100,000. Stamas barked out, “One million more – $154.1!”

And for the next 30 minutes, the bids drew north from the $150 millions into the $160s. With every bid, Loria would raise by $100,000. Stamas, on behalf of Angelos, raised it by $1 million at a time. After 13 rounds of back and forth money, Angelos had the leading bid $170 million. Fugett, who had been completely silent during the auction, asked the judge for a recess.

The request was granted and the judge headed to his chambers.

And, suddenly, it got even hotter in a blazing courtroom on a sweltering day in The Big

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Former Colts kicker Linhart dead at 70

Posted on 12 May 2013 by WNST Staff

Former Baltimore Colts K Toni Linhart died Sunday morning in Baltimore County after a battle with cancer. Linhart was 70.

The Austrian-born kicker came to the National Football League in 1972 (spending his first season with the New Orleans Saints) after playing soccer professionally for seven years in his home country, including six appearances with the Austrian national team.

Linhart overcame a relationship with Charm City fans that was at times frigid when he kicked a 31 yard field goal in a dense fog at Memorial Stadium in December 1975. After Bert Jones lead the Colts downfield, Linhart (who was described in that week’s Sports Illustrated as “having a history of the shanks”) connected on the kick to give the Colts a 10-7 overtime win over the Miami Dolphins. The win helped the Colts to a 10-4 record and an AFC East title, a season result that seemed very unlikely when the Colts started the season 1-4.

Linhart would go on to lead the NFL in scoring in 1976 and reached the Pro Bowl in both 1977 and 1978. He finished his career with the New York Jets in 1979.

Former Colts QB Marty Domres told the Baltimore Sun “Toni was never flamboyant about his abilities.” He added about the man he once held kicks for “he was low-key and understated about everything. I doubt that a lot of people even think of him when it comes to Colts’ lore.”

Linhart lived in the Baltimore area in his final years and attended many Colts reunion events.

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Lewis provided identity for lost generation of football fans

Posted on 02 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The truth is I don’t know if Ray Lewis is the greatest middle linebacker to ever play the game.

Watching the best player in the history of the Baltimore Ravens over these last 17 years is an alarming contrast to the unofficial numbers, grainy images, and slow-motion video clips of yesteryear, my only exposure to seeing some of the NFL’s greatest at the position who played in a different era of professional football.

Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, and Sam Huff were all retired a decade or more before I was born.

I was still in diapers when Jack Lambert’s career was cut short by a debilitating toe injury.

I don’t vividly recall the prime years of Mike Singletary roaming the middle of the vaunted Chicago Bears defense in the 1980s.

But I will never forget Lewis punishing running backs, showing impeccable sideline-to-sideline pursuit, and displaying the cover skills of a safety in his prime years. The bone-crushing hits over the middle will be shown on NFL Films in the many years to come.

The assessments of where Lewis stacks up with those other individuals will be made by others, but 13 Pro Bowls, 10 All-Pro selections, and two AP Defensive Player of the Year awards are more than enough to seal Lewis’ first-ballot arrival in Canton in the summer of 2018. His leadership and work ethic are unquestioned for anyone having the privilege to play with the 37-year-old over the course of his career.

Selected with the 26th overall pick of the 1996 draft, Lewis has been a member of the Ravens organization for every game of its existence in Baltimore. He taught us to “raise the roof” at Memorial Stadium, to “let the dogs out” in 2000, and to get “hot in here” when walking out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium for the last decade. The fan base stood by him as he was tried for double murder following Super Bowl XXXIV and watched him rehabilitate his image after charges were eventually dropped and he pled guilty to obstruction of justice. To his credit, there hasn’t even been a whisper of off-field trouble for the linebacker ever since.

And the ultimate glory was realized as Lewis was named Most Valuable Player in the Ravens’ 34-7 win over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV. The performance capped off an incredible postseason run that included an interception wrestled away from Tennessee running back Eddie George in a divisional round win over the Titans that might be the signature moment of the linebacker’s career.

The end of his run has been pondered for years, but it was a reality no one was quite ready for as Lewis made his announcement just over 11 weeks removed from a torn triceps that threatened to end his season. And the news made his improbable comeback and a wild-card meeting with the Indianapolis Colts fall to the background immediately.

“Everything that starts has an end. It’s just life,” Lewis said on Wednesday. “Today I told my team that this would be my last ride. And I told them I was just at so much peace in where I am with my decision because of everything that I’ve done in this league.”

What a ride it’s been for the last 17 years in Baltimore.

Simply put, Ray Lewis is the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Ravens are Ray Lewis. That will begin to change with the Hall of Fame linebacker walking away from the game after this season, but it’s the simplest way to express his significance to this franchise and to this city.

Nowadays, we’re so quick to label players as “great” and even “legendary” without realizing how special such terms truly are, but Lewis is deserving of those distinctions. Where he ranks in the hierarchy of the NFL’s top defensive players of all time is debatable, but you won’t find a player who impacted a city and a fan base in quite the same way as Lewis.

And that’s where the line blurs for me as a reporter and native Baltimorean at the age of 29.

Being part of a generation that grew up without football in our formative years, we settled for second-hand stories of Johnny Unitas and Lenny Moore and Art Donovan from our parents and grandparents. It was a heritage we cherished, mind you, but we could never fully understand it as our own while enduring quiet autumn Sundays and seeing Memorial Stadium dormant at the end of each baseball season.

But the Ravens’ arrival — and Lewis specifically — provided our own stories to one day pass along to our children and grandchildren. It wasn’t the same as the Baltimore Colts, but it didn’t need to be. It was new and it was ours, with No. 52 leading the way as the best player on Baltimore’s NFL team. He provided a football identity to a town stripped of one for 13 years.

We were no longer chasing what felt like ghosts of the Memorial Stadium gridiron but instead could watch Lewis chase down ball carriers with our own eyes. More than anything, he gave us an overwhelming sense of pride.

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>

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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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An open letter to Adam Jones (and anyone else who doesn’t like Orioles attendance)

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It was only a matter of time before Adam Jones started popping off on Twitter regarding his feelings about the lack of people standing behind him in centerfield at Camden Yards. It wasn’t as juicy as last year’s advice to “knock the s**t outta the Yankees fans” but he made his feelings well known yesterday about the worst crowd of the season to see the season’s most significant game to date.

It’s very apparent that Adam Jones cares more about whether the good people of Baltimore come to Orioles games than his bosses and owner do but still not enough to vest himself in our community enough to recruit people to come and pay to see the team play.

 

It must be a bummer for any Orioles player to endure the emptiness of the home ballpark while finally playing meaningful games and quality baseball.

In 2012, the price to pay for 15 years of losing and the worst owner in the history of professional sports is what Adam Jones now sees with a fantastic view from centerfield every night: an empty stadium in downtown Baltimore and plenty of green seats to backdrop every fly ball.

It’s been very clear that the prescient message I sent with “Free The Birds” in 2006 – “if you’re not careful, Mr. Angelos, we might leave and never come back” – has now become a prophecy. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are everything you’d want in a local sports team to follow – interesting, fun, lively and relevant – and a grand total of 48K came to Camden Yards over four days to watch the best baseball this city has seen in 15 years.

The empty seats are a glaring reminder of what’s gone wrong with the franchise and the city’s passion for the Baltimore Orioles since Peter Angelos bought — and then wrecked — the franchise.

Once Adam Jones stops talking out of the side of his mouth and at the end of this run of success in 2012 – and I’m not betting it won’t end in a parade just yet because I’ve seen stranger things happen — it’ll then be time to invest himself in our community the way he likes to on his Twitter account.

He got the $85.5 million deal back in May and it’ll be his turn to become a Baltimore resident or not. If he’s really interested in people coming to the ballpark then I hope he’ll spend the offseason with the fans here and be Mr. Oriole all winter.

Where will he be in November…and December…or January?

Will he be shaking hands, kissing babies and attempting to become a guy who eventually gets one of those shiny statues out on the patio that no one is visiting these days?

Will Adam Jones be in the community trying to win back the fans of Baltimore?

I’m not talking sitting at a table in a card shop or swag store charging $50 for an autograph. I’m talking about being a true ambassador for the community.

This isn’t about the marketing department. This isn’t about buying more billboards or state-run MASN ads. This isn’t about popping off on Twitter or mandating “sitdowns” with people like me who are still pissed about the entire tenor and arrogance of the Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos over two decades.

If the players on the field are embarrassed by an empty stadium, it’s my belief is that THEY – directly – are the only ones who can do something about it. We have to care about them and want to invest our money

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