On a chilly October evening in 1983, I packed myself into a car with four other friends from Glen Burnie and we drove through the city to Memorial Stadium. There, along with maybe 5,000 other crazies, I waited well past midnight for the Baltimore Orioles to return from Philadelphia in the afterglow of their World Series-clinching win over the Phillies.
I was one of the fence-climbers that night, scaling the fence that bordered the player’s entrance and literally hanging on for dear life just to catch a glimpse of Eddie, Cal and my favorite player of that season, pitcher Mike Boddicker.
I remember the night like it was yesterday. And we thought it was a big deal back then for 5,000 people to gather and welcome home the team.
For a long time since, Baltimore has been cast as a “baseball town”.
That changed — officially — on February 5, 2013.
Today, as if this statement needed a notary public, it was stamped: Baltimore is a football town now.
Yes, as last season’s successful baseball campaign proved, the folks in Charm City will rally around the local nine if they put together an improbable six months of baseball and work their way into the post-season.
Baltimore still loves baseball. But more than that, they love winning baseball.
Today in Baltimore, at least 75,000 fans made it into the stadium and another 250,000 or more coated the downtown streets to welcome home their championship football team.
It was a remarkable showing. Historical, in a lot of ways.
This city has done a lot of things over the years as it pertains to sports. But they’ve never, ever pulled off anything like they did on Tuesday afternoon. And there might not be another city in America who would have showed up like Baltimore did both at City Hall and M&T Bank Stadium.
Mark it down until something else surpasses it: Today, February 5, 2013, is the greatest day in the history of Baltimore sports.
Never before has a Baltimore team been showed that much love from the city they call home.