“I remember seeing guys like Frank Robby at the plAte with somebodys crib beyond the outfield fences and parking lots,” the legendary rapper Chuck D tweeted Thursday night. “RT if you saw a game there or know what I mean...”
Hundreds retweeted, and more than 1,000 liked the post, which was accompanied by a vintage photo of Memorial Stadium, the former home of the Orioles, next to a block of “cribs” — you might know them as rowhouses.
But even those who replied to the tweet with their own fond memories, many likely wondered what Chuck D’s connection was to Baltimore and the stadium that last hosted the O’s nearly three decades ago.
“My connection is seeing the Mets beating the Orioles in 1969,” the New York native said when he was reached by phone Friday night.
That tragic World Series aside, the Public Enemy frontman perhaps most famous for the anthemic “Fight the Power” that he wrote for Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” was gracious on the subject of the Orioles. Now 59, he said he was a big fan of the Orioles of his youth and was amazed that their ballpark was located in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
“I’m a big fan of Frank Robinson,” he said of the Orioles great whom he called out in the tweet, “Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell, all those great pitchers. It was one of the most fantastic teams of my childhood.”
As a kid, he marveled at what he saw of the Baltimore ballpark, so different from the Shea Stadium of his Mets.
“I saw Memorial Stadium on TV, and every time a player came to the plate,” he said he remembers thinking, “Man, there’s a house back there.”
By contrast, he said, Shea Stadium in Queens “was a municipal stadium, as far away from being a neighborhood stadium.”
Even though he considers the Orioles current park Camden Yards “revolutionary,” he remains fond of its predecessor — despite never having set foot in it. It was demolished in 2002, but once when he was in town, Chuck D said, a friend drove him around its 33rd Street locale.
“It was more than a beautiful park,” he said dreamily, “it was a beautiful park in a beautiful neighborhood.”
Many who responded to his tweet agreed. The replies are filled with delightful memories, of sneaking in back before tight security was a thing, of championships and terrible losses, of the moms and dads and grandparents who once took them there to see the Orioles or Colts.
“Learned to drive stick up the crazy hill near the front entrance,” one tweeter reminisced. “Listened to 83 series from Dads shoulders from the parking lot.”
Despite his lack of ties to Baltimore, Chuck D rattled off the top of his head much of their World Series history, throwing in some Colts highlights as well.
But he didn’t tune into the O’s opening game of this foreshortened season, a Friday night match against the Red Sox in Boston. Or any other baseball game for that matter. Instead, he said, his 9-year-old daughter had a cartoon had a cartoon on.
“An animated app,” he corrected himself after asking her.
Nor did the avid sports fan have any predictions for the season.