That is the Camden Yard’s version of the National Anthem. Sang by all Oriole fans in tribute to the home team and our Great Nation.
I remember my first trip to Baltimore, it was the old Municipal Stadium, Orioles versus Yankees. Mike Flanigan on the mound for the Birds. "Louisiana Lightning" Ron Guidry going for the Yanks.
My Dad took me to a good restaurant right downtown; I took my first cab ride. Baltimore was not the city of today, it’s a lot better with the Inner Harbor, aquarium, zoo and Camden yards, but it was cool being there as a kid and especially how big Municipal Stadium seemed. I hadn't been to New York yet, so I was comparing the home of the "O's" to Williamsport, you get the picture.
My most vivid memory of that day, Orioles manager Earl Weaver. He didn’t like a call the home plate umpire made, he got very upset. Kicking dirt on the home plate umpire, throwing his hat, and then getting right up in the face of the Ump. I had never witnessed anything like that. Of course Billy Martin, the Yankees Skipper, then made a trip out to see what was going on. This infuriated Mr. Weaver even more.
You did not see much of this on TV back then; you only got a handful of games a week. You only got to watch Baltimore and Earl Weaver if they were playing New York on WPIX or were involved in the Saturday Game of the Week. As you know Earl Weaver became known for these tirades.
I traveled to Municipal Park and Camden Yards many a time over the years. I went with my Dad first, then with my friends, and now I take my sons and wife. It is, along with Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, our favorite two places to travel and watch a ballgame.
I especially enjoyed traveling down to Baltimore to watch Mike Mussina pitch. I knew Mike from competing against him in high school and it was just flat out cool to see him playing in the Majors. I went down to watch his second or third Major League start, I believe it was against Detroit, and remember thinking he is going to do great things. Mike was just as calm and cool as he was back at Montoursville when he pitched. He controlled the game with his great arm but more importantly with his mind and approach.
Mike belongs in the Hall of Fame. His numbers speak for themselves and he accomplished them during the "steroid age." He went out on top with a 20 win season. I know he would have reached 300 wins if a couple of closers that will remain nameless didn't torch many a great outing by Mike. Instead of getting the win he got the quality start and a no decision.
I watched Cal Ripken Senior manage his sons Cal Jr. and Billy. Pretty darn cool stuff looking back. How great would it be to manage a Major League Club and have your boys in the dugout as players?
I could go on and on. My near and dear to the heart trips were Jimmy and Hunter's first times to Camden Yards. To watch their eyes light up, to answer their questions about the game, to buy them an Oriole hat and shirt. I will never forget.
Then along came George Lepley who has managed both my boys at West End. Taking Jimmy and his team to two Babe Ruth World Series. Then getting his younger brother and getting close twice, one more chance for Hunter and his friends this year.
Why am I telling you this? George is a lifetime Oriole fan and season-ticket holder. He is also very generous and takes his teams to games every year. I have gone along many times. Now Hunter looks forward to going without me, just George and the team, I cramp his style.
It's not just the game for George's troops, it’s the whole Baltimore experience. Which includes a trip to Hooters in Inner Harbor for a team meal. George tells me this is done in the name of a “team building” exercise.
By the way, thank you George for all you have done for West End Baseball but more importantly all the kids lives you have touched over the years. This made even more special by those trips to Baltimore.
I love the city of Baltimore and have many stories I could share with you, memories and times spent with family and friends, and as the commercial goes, they were priceless. The events that have occurred in Baltimore this past week are tragic, despicable and heart wrenching. There is one thing I can tell you, as soon as my sons’ schedules allow it we will be heading to Camden Yards for an “O’s” game.
I watched the highlights of the Chicago White Sox versus Orioles game in which no fans were allowed to attend. What a travesty, what in the name of Brooks Robinson is going on in our World today?
Chris Davis, first baseman for the Os flipped the ball into the stands after a third out ending an inning was recorded. This is part of the game and always makes for a happy fan. The ball fell harmlessly into the empty bleachers. A symbolic gesture of the Orioles, their fans and the situation in Baltimore.
No worries Chris Davis, the fans will return and so may a World Title to Baltimore. See, sports teams become closer and cities become closer bonded by adversity. Look no further than the 2013 Boston Red Sox.
May God Bless and help the people of Baltimore.