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Chapter 6: Baseball punched me a ticket to see The World

Posted on 10 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally posted as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 6 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net.)

One day my Pop came home from work in the Spring of 1983 and during dinner announced that we should go on a vacation in the upcoming summer.

Other than Venezuela in 1972, when we took my lone airplane ride, and Disney World in 1978 when we took Amtrak, I had never been much past Ocean City (I had only been there a handful of times because my Uncle Omar had a joint on 28th Street Bayside behind the Jolly Roger amusement park).

We usually just went “home” to South Carolina to visit my Mom’s family and chilled while she visited all her old neighbors and friends. My Pop and I would spend those summer days almost entirely at the Abbeville Civic Center. It wasn’t at all like OUR Baltimore Civic Center with seats and stuff. It was just a little gym with a lobby and my Pop and I would shoot baskets for hours in that hotbox gym. There wasn’t anything else to do in the tiny little South Carolina town. All of my relatives were older than my Mom and she’s now 87. So every one of them was well into their 70’s then and have since passed away.

My Aunt Earline made eggs and bacon and biscuits in the morning and fried chicken in the afternoon. Her sister, my Aunt Edna — she was a cool old lady, she took me to the NWA wrestling matches in Greenwood, S.C. one night! — made the world’s best chocolate fudge (I recently found the recipe!) and fresh peach ice cream in a churn for dessert on alternating days. We picked pecans off the tree in the back yard on Ellis Street and tossed them into a batch of that incredible fudge. And I would throw a super-sized Superball (they were bigger than the normal ones and very rock solid) against the siding of my Aunt Eleanor’s house up the street, pretending I was Nolan Ryan when I wasn’t in that hot gym.

That was vacation for me. There were no other kids, and the black/white thing in Abbeville, S.C., even then in the late 1970’s, was kind of in the backdrop as well. I ran around, dreamed and chased these weird, techni-color grasshoppers they had all over the place.

Kind of Napoleon Dynamite pathetic, huh?

But it’s really true, as I look back upon it.

I was bored as hell (except when my Aunt Edna was involved) and all I really wanted to do was stay at home in Colgate and play baseball on the church lot with my friends, anyway. But I did get to eat some great food in South Carolina. And, one time, a pretty Southern girl painted an orange Clemson paw print on my face at a park called Hickory Knob State Park!

So, when my Pop announced a chance at a trip, he looked to me. I was 14, it was the summer of 1983 and where would I want to go or what would I want to do?
Clearly, it had to involve baseball. And if involved baseball in 1983, it definitely 

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Chapter 5: The Orioles and Colts weren’t the only teams that mattered

Posted on 09 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 5 of a 19 Chapter Series on How baseball, my father and the Orioles created WNST.net. We are planning some civic action on Thursday, April 5. Please plan to join us…)

This is probably the story that I hate to admit the most on the radio. It involves youthful ignorance, disgusting twists and turns and, ultimately, I think more than just a tad bit of old-fashioned adolescent rebellion.

I don’t think anyone could ever picture me as a rebel, right?

If what I really say about comparing the Baltimore sports scene is true  — “the Ravens are my girlfriend, but the Orioles are my wife” and I DID warn you that I can find a baseball analogy for virtually ANY situation in life, or vice versa — then at one point I had a few “flings.”

A couple of those steamy, whirlwind romances that feel so good you don’t even feel GUILTY about it in the morning. It’s a “new” love, a satisfaction that only something “fresh” will give you.

My first one occurred back in the 1970’s, really the first day that the “fan” came out in the fanatic.

My Pop took me to my first Colts game on Sept. 23, 1973 to see “Broadway” Joe Namath and the New York Jets. No need to run you through the whys and wherefores of Super Bowl III (if I gotta do THAT, you probably shouldn’t be reading or hearing this!), but suffice to say this city had what my Pop would describe as a “hard on” for the Jets — to say the least!

I was three weeks shy of my 5th birthday, so I was technically 4 years old and off to a Colts’ football game we go. Unlike my memories of my first Oriole game being a little more cloudy and distant, my recollections of my first Colts game is so vivid it’s really kinda spooky.

The Colts lost that game 34-10, and even though I don’t need to look that up, I AM staring at the program from that game just six inches to my left. The fact that I can move my left hand and touch this program and, somehow, touch my father through it and touch the smell of the air that day is incredible — a powerful, powerful thing.

But that’s just how good sports can be and why The Rally on Sept. 21st downtown is important.

On that day in September 1973, Johnny Unitas had just left, the franchise was in a shambles and the embryo that would birth an exit from Baltimore, “Tiger” Bob Irsay and his drunken ownership hijinks, was gestating. Marty Domres was the starting quarterback and Bert Jones was a puppy, but the team had the key compenents to what would go on to be a fabulous team to watch from 1975 through 1977 — a team that gave Pittsburgh and Oakland a run for their money each year as a solid AFC East team. Lydell Mitchell, Ken Mendenhall, Joe Ehrmann, David Taylor, Mike Barnes — they were all there that day.

Stan White knocked Joe Namath out of the game that day and, 33 years later, I get to compete with him every day on Baltimore radio. I just think that’s kinda cool, even if he never has! Stan White was a hero of mine as a kid because he smacked Joe Namath in the mouth (or in the case, the shoulder).

My Pop didn’t think that sucked, either!

We sat in the middle of centerfield — or at least that’s what it was to me, the bleacher seats. I thought it was kinda nifty that we got to actually WALK on the baseball field. I remember how BIG everyone was and how gigantic the stadium looked from centerfield. I remember the band and I’m sure it was the first time I ever heard the “Colts Fight Song.”

At some point during the blowout, my Pop and I left, resigned to grabbing the No. 22 bus back to Highlandtown. En route, I wanted to stop and get a souvenir. I wanted to get something that had something to do with Johnny Unitas. I didn’t really know who Johnny Unitas was but I knew he was

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Original Baltimore Colts Charter, Unitas Super Bowl V Ring Sold at Saturday Auction

Posted on 04 February 2012 by WNST Staff

EXTON, PA—February 4th, 2012— An anonymous bidder paid $46,000 for a 2011 game used Tom Brady jersey at The Super Bowl XLVI Live Auction in Indianapolis Saturday tripling the presale estimated value. Hunt Auctions had estimated the jersey’s value at $10,000-$15,000 prior to the sale. The jersey was worn by New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady during the October 16th, 2011 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“The record price for the Tom Brady jersey illustrates the appreciation for high quality game used items relating to the premier players in the game today. Hunt Auctions is honored to have once again partnered with NFL Auction to bring the very best of football memorabilia to fans and collectors across the country,” said David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions.

In addition to the Brady jersey other top bids in the auction included the certificate of membership to the NFL given to the Baltimore Colts in 1953 which sold for $34,500, a Johnny Unitas Baltimore Colts 1970 Super Bowl V championship ring which sold for $14,375 and a 2003 Carolina Panthers NFC Championship ring which realized $10,436. Also impressive in today’s auction was a 2011 Denver Broncos Tim Tebow game used jersey which also tripled the presale estimate of $2,000-$4,000 selling at $14,950.

In it’s 4th year, The Super Bowl XLVI Live Auction is an annual event produced by Hunt Auctions, in partnership with NFL Auction and the NFL Players. A portion of the auction proceeds benefit NFL Charities.

The final selling prices of all the auction items is available online at www.huntauctions.com.

AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE: 

Tom Brady game worn New England Patriots jersey (Presale estimate $10,000-$15,000) SALE PRICE $46,000

Baltimore Colts Certificate of Membership to the NFL c. 1953 (Presale estimated $20,000-$40,000) SALE PRICE $34,500.00

October 23, 2011 Tim Tebow autographed game worn Denver Broncos jersey. (Estimated Price $2,000-$4,000) SALE PRICE $14,950

Johnny Unitas Baltimore Colts 1970 Super Bowl V Champions 10K gold ring (salesman’s sample). SALE PRICE $14,375

2003 Carolina Panthers NFC Championship 14K gold ring (Player’s ring). SALE PRICE $10,436

Ben Roethlisberger autographed game worn Pittsburgh Steelers jersey with 9/11 patch. SALE PRICE $10,102.75

ABOUT HUNT AUCTIONS: Exton, Pennsylvania based Hunt Auctions has been a leader in the sports memorabilia auction industry for close to two decades. Numerous former players and their families have trusted their collections with Hunt Auctions including Joe DiMaggio (HOF), Whitey Ford (HOF), Curt Flood, Leo Durocher (HOF), Robin Roberts (HOF), Earl Weaver (HOF), Commissioner Bowie Kuhn (HOF), Clem Labine, Mickey Vernon, Jake Pitler, Thurman Munson, Roy Campanella (HOF), Bucky Walters, Walter Johnson (HOF), Bill McKechnie (HOF), Willie Mosconi, and Norm Van Brocklin (HOF). Hunt Auctions is also the Official Auction Company of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and the Official Auctioneer of Major League Baseball All-Star FanFest. Hunt Auctions has worked with numerous institutions to include: The National Football League, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, National Baseball Hall of Fame, Chicago Bulls, National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, and Baseball Assistance Team.

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My Day at Citizens Bank Park

Posted on 20 May 2010 by dansoderberg

Philadelphia, PA – After attending two O’s games in April I decided it was time to see some actual  Major League Baseball action, so I packed up the family and headed to Philly to watch the Phils and the Cubbies.  I’ve always rooted for the Cubs and became a full fledged Cubs fan after taking a trip to Wrigley about 8 years ago, so I went to the game with a rooting interest.

First off, Citizens Bank Park is a very nice ballpark, it’s not quite Camden Yards but it is damn nice.  There is an open concourse all the way around the park so you can see the field from the concession lines and when walking to the restrooms.  I’ve been to Comerica in Detroit and PNC Park in Pittsburgh an they also have an open concourse.  It’s really the one thing those parks have all over Camden Yards, though the concourse at Camden Yards is much wider and easier to maneuver while carrying a 9 month old and a 3 year old, as I was today.

Citizens Bank Park also had a great play area for kids called the Phanatic Phun Zone.  We spent about 20 minutes there before the game letting my 3 year old son stretch his legs after the long car ride.  He had a great time and frankly would have stayed there all day had we let him.  The ballpark also features a Build-a-Bear workshop just in case you want to drop $80 bucks on a stuffed Phanatic, we passed.

Citizens Bank Park also features an area beyond the outfield called “Ashburn Alley”, which is Philly’s version of Eutaw Street.  Ashburn Alley had some  activities for kids, plenty of concessions (including Greg Luzinski’s “Bull’s BBQ) and some interesting exhibits on Phillies history.  The authenticity of the B&O Warehouse, and the fact that it’s the original, give Eutaw Street the edge on Ashburn Alley.

As for the game, the Phils beat the Cubbies 5-4.  The game featured a 3-run bomb from Jimmy Rollins and solo shots from Chase Utley and the Cubs Kosuke Fukudome.  If you’ve never had the chance to see him play, Chase Utley is ridiculously good.  Also, the Cubs 20 year old Shortstop Starlin Castro jut looks like a future star.  He exhibited tremendous range, quick reflexes, hustle on the bases as he beat out a dribbler for a single, and he stroked an RBI single to the opposite field for the Cubs first run.

Going to Citizens Bank Park and seeing the park packed with fans for a Thursday afternoon game really made me miss the spectacle that was Camden Yards in the 90’s.  Unlike Camden, Citizens Bank Park is not in the city center and is basically surrounded by parking lots and access roads.  The area around the park lacks the carnival type atmosphere that used to exist outside of Camden Station.  There are no street vendors or ticket scalpers to speak of; ome people may look at that as a positive but I missed the chatter and the activity.

If you’re looking to see some real Major League Baseball and are tired of waiting for the Orioles to become relevant again I’d strongly suggest making the trek to Philly.  Today the sky’s were blue without a cloud in sight and the temps were in the low to mid 80’s.  It was a great day for baseball, win or lose for the Cubs.

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Baseball’s “Leading” Men are MIA

Posted on 04 May 2010 by dansoderberg

Those of us in Baltimore have watched the Orioles scuffle this season while their $10 million leadoff hitter looks on from the dugout with a herniated disk.  Roberts’ absence isn’t the sole cause of the O’s struggles, but it sure hasn’t helped matters.  Ty Wigginton has filled in admirably at 2nd base, putting up great offensive numbers and limiting his defenses lapses.  But the club is still searching for a competent leadoff hitter.  Dave Trembley has settled on Adam Jones in the leadoff spot for now, but he can’t be happy with Jones’ production.  Adam and his .312 career On Base % are miscast in the top spot of the lineup.  Coming into 2010 Jones appeared to be a budding power hitter but his OBP and Slugging % are both down this year and he’s clearly frustrated.

The Orioles aren’t the only team missing a premier leadoff hitter.  The recently swept Red Sox are playing, and struggling, without Jacoby Ellsbury.  The perennial AL East power is off to a 12-14 start and is just 2-4 against the Orioles this season.  The Boston offense has struggled to consistently produce runs with Ellsbury’s career .350 OBP and base stealing abilities on the bench nursing a rib injury.  Terry Francona is using journeyman shortstop Marco Scutaro to lead off and converted infielder Bill Hall in left.  I wouldn’t expect the Red Sox to make a turnaround until Ellsbury returns, which may not be anytime soon.

Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies extraordinary leadoff man is out with a calf injury and may not return before the end of the month.  The Phillies are off to a 14-12 start, but are just 4-6 in their last 10 games.  Philadelphia had an excellent in-house leadoff candidate in Shane Victorino and they’re getting by with journeyman Juan Castro at short.

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Dealin’ Aces

Posted on 15 December 2009 by dansoderberg

It was one helluva day to be a #1 starter in the big leagues. Three staff “Aces” are changing addresses and uniforms. Nothing creates a stir like a blockbuster trade and the Roy Halladay-Cliff Lee deal is no exception. It took 5 months, a World Series appearance, and the firing of JP Ricciardi but the Phillies finally got their man, Roy Halladay. In the rumored deal Halladay will go to the Phillies, Playoff hero Cliff Lee will head to Seattle and a slew of prospects will go to Toronto.

It may seem odd that the Phils are dealing Lee just a few months after acquiring him from Cleveland, but upon further review the deal makes a lot of sense for Philadelphia. Lee and Halladay are both free agents after the 2010 season. The difference is that Lee is apparently intent on testing the free agent waters while Halladay wants to play for a contender and will sign an extension. Rumor has it that Halladay will sign a 3 year extension with Philadelphia locking him up thru the 2013 season. Seattle will have Lee for just one season as they’ll need considerable funds to sign King Felix to a long term extension.

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. comes out smelling like a rose. He drove a hard bargain with former Toronto GM JP Ricciardi by refusing to deal his best prospects for Halladay back in July, instead settling on a deal for Lee that included lesser regarded youngsters. Now he turns around and deals Lee for Halladay and has Doc locked up for 3 years. Christmas has come early for Phillies fans.

Santa also paid a visit to Fenway Park, but not before dropping a big bag of money down John Lackey’s chimney. The Red Sox answered the Yankees’ Granderson deal with the Lackey signing. Lackey does a couple of things for the Red Sox: 1) He closes the gap with the Yankees and provides insurance for Josh Beckett who is a free agent after the season. 2) His departure weakens the perennial contender Angels. 3) He frees up a young pitcher (re: Clay Buchholz) to be included in a deal for a big bat like Adrian Gonzalez of the Padres.

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Sex and the World Series

Posted on 29 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Just when you thought you heard every story, here comes one that’s fascinating.

A Philadelphia woman put an ad on “Craiglist” under: Tickets Wanted.

She said in the ad she was willing to “get creative.” She made an appointment with a sting officer and got arrested. The charge: “soliciting prostitution.” She says she never offered sex for the tickets.

Here’s a link to a video interview with her.

Crazy story. And one that there are clearly two very different sides.

Baseball makes people crazy, huh?

Of course, here in Baltimore nothing like this would ever happen. Because we’ll never see the World Series again.

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A frosty World Series on tap

Posted on 20 October 2009 by dansoderberg

With each passing inning it looks more and more like we’ll have a Yankees/Phillies World Series. Dust off those skulls caps. Some the late night, made for TV games could be downright frigid.

There’s no bigger MFY hater than your’s truly and I’ve been pulling for the Angels in this ALCS, but it just doesn’t look like they’re going to pull this out. The Angels have been unable to muster any kind of consistent offensive attack in the ALCS. Leadoff man Chone Figgins has been largely ineffective and the Angels lack the Yankees thump and threat of the long ball. Yankee Manager Joe Girardi came under fire for his game 3 bullpen management, but no one should second guess his decision to start C.C. Sabathia on 3 days rest. Sabathia is dealing tonight and the Angels have really failed to make him work. I’m holding out hope for the Angels, but as I type they are only 6 outs from being down 3 games to 1.

Turning to the National League I must admit I’m now rooting for the Phillies. I live in PA and have some friends who are Phillies fans, but my reasons for backing the Phils are purely selfish. I don’t think the Dodgers can beat the Yankees. The Dodgers top 3 starters through this Postseason have been Randy Wolf, 21 year old Clayton Kershaw, and Rangers castoff Vincente Padilla. The Yankees would eat that threesome alive. The Phillies are the best bet to down the Yanks. Philadelphia has the offense to battle the Yankees and the starters to match up against Sabathia, Burnett and Pettite. Just imagine Game 1, 4 and 7 matchups between former Cleveland teammates Cliff Lee and Sabathia. It would make for great theater assuming two things; 1. a major snow storm doesn’t postpone the series for a week, and 2. You’re not an Indians fan.

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The Schedule Monkey

Posted on 12 October 2009 by dansoderberg

It seems to happen every Postseason. A couple of the division series wrap up early and teams sit around for days waiting for their pre-scheduled series to begin. The Rockies are clinging to a 2 – run 9th inning lead against the Phillies as I type. I sure hope they win and force a game 5, not because I’m a big Rockies fan but, because the ALCS isn’t set to begin until Friday evening, just in time to go up against the NFL and college football this weekend. The Angels and MFYs will sit around for the next 4 days playing Madden ’09 and watching “Keeping up with the Kardashians” rather than playing baseball. And for what reason? Isn’t it bad enough that we have to suffer through a regular season of asinine 2 game series, Coast to Coast road trips, and a complete lack of Saturday day baseball. Now when we get to October, baseball’s chance to shine, we have the prospect of nearly an entire work week with no baseball. Who makes this schedule? I’m going with the proverial monkey flinging poo at a big board. Probably the same monkey that decided the All Star game winner should determine World Series home field advantage.

As usual this Postseason there have been quite a few blown calls by umpires. Nothing as egregious as the infamous Jeffrey Maier/ Richie Garcia incident, but blown calls none the less. Joe Mauer’s obvious double down the line in Friday’s game being called foul is the most glaring example. The ball was fair by nearly a foot and the umpire was less than 15 feet from where the ball landed.

I don’t understand why, in 2009 when you can order a pizza from your phone and put a GPS chip in your dog, MLB can’t find some way to incorporate technology to eliminate these umpiring blunders. I see 2 options:
1. Give managers 2 challenges, a la the NFL’s red flags, per game. Once the game reaches extra innings any reviews would be at the discretion of the umpiring crew. This would allow managers to use their 2 challenges if need be and not have to save one in the event the game goes to extra innings.
2. Take the 2 worthless slobs standing down the baselines and put one of them in the press box. The replay Umpire would watch the same feed as the viewers at home and have the ability to watch replays as necessary. If the replay Ump thinks a call should be reversed then he would alert the crew chief and the call would be changed.
True, either of these options could increase the time of games, but TBS and FOX don’t seem terribly concerned about game times when they stop to show another “Lopez Tonight” commercial. Let’s just get the calls right, ok?

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Angels Reach for Ankles as Playoffs begin

Posted on 06 October 2009 by dansoderberg

And so the Metrodome lives to see another day. The Twins defeated the Tigers in 12 innings today to edge past Tigers as the AL Central Champs. The win had the Metrodome rocking and it will now at a minimum host one more playoff game before facing the wrecking ball. The Twins now serve as sacrificial lambs for the Yankees. I’m hard pressed to see any way for the Twins to defeat the Yanks in their Divisional Series after starting de facto Ace Scott Baker in today’s playoff. I’ll be pulling for the Twins and MVP Joe Mauer to topple the MFYs, I just don’t think it’s likely.

In the other AL Divisional Series the Angels are lined up for their annual Autumn rogering at the hands of the Red Sox. I know it’s a different year and the Angels have ridden an emotional roller coaster this season, but I see this series ending predictably. And as usual, not only will the Angels be playing the Red Sox they’ll also have the Umpires to combat. MLB and Fox are once again drooling at the prospect of a Yankees-Red Sox ALCS and you better believe the Angels will have to earn everything they get. Hopefully Bobby Abreu and Torii Hunter can flip the script for Anaheim, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

In the National League the Rockies have been a great story as they stormed into contention after replacing Manager Clint Hurdle with Jim Tracy. Colorado has some exciting young players and a clutch performer in SS Troy Tulowitzki. The Rockies will have to travel to Philly and will not have #3 starter Jorge De La Rosa at their disposal as he is out with a knee injury. I’ll take the Phillies in 4, though I think the Rockies win game 1 and send the Philly airwaves into panic mode. Let’s just say “Halladay” will replace “cheesesteak” as the most used word in Philadelphia if they lose this series to the Rockies.

I’ll take the Cardinals in a sweep over the Dodgers. St. Louis will have the 2 best hitters and the 2 best pitchers in the series, ’nuff said. They can throw Cy Young hopefuls Carpenter and Wainwright 4 times in a 5 game series if so desired. That’s a tough hill for the Dodgers to climb, even with home field advantage. The talk in LA has gone from Manny being Manny to Manny being mediocre. The Dodgers will need the October 2008 version of Ramirez and some surprise performances by young hurlers Billingsley and Kershaw to have a shot at downing LaRussa’s Cards.

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