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Orioles fever heats up Baltimore County offices as ALCS approaches

Even former Baltimore County executives are in the grips of Oriole fever.

Or at least their images in the Historic Court House in Towson are after Baltimore's Major League Baseball team powered its way into the American League Championship series by sweeping the Detroit Tigers in three games.

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Lutherville resident Anne Marie Humphries, a special assistant to the county executive for constituent services, is the "artist-in-residence" who made sure that portraits hanging in the mezzanine level of the building of notables such as Spiro Agnew, Donald Hutchinson, Ted Venetoulis and Dutch Ruppersberger are decked out in orange and black Oriole regalia just in time for the American League Championship series. The ALCS opens Oct. 10 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards against the Kansas City Royals.

Humphries rigged a straw "Wild Bill" Hagy-style hat hanging from a fishing line to give Agnew a three-dimensional appearance on canvas, while Ruppersberger and Venetoulis sported jerseys attached by an adhesive to glass protecting their framed photos. Hutchinson's photo shows him wearing a very small Oriole jacket donated by her colleague, Bryan Sheppard.

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A lifelong Oriole fan, Humphries grew up in Ednor Gardens, a city neighborhood adjoining Memorial Stadium where the team played when it won its previous World Series championships in 1966, 1970 and 1983.

Humphries' family later moved to Parkville, yet she still made the trek to the old stadium by bus to see her beloved Birds play.

After the team moved to its new digs at Camden Yards in 1992 and performed fairly well, she continued to support the team.

Then came the lean years, from 1998 to 2011, when the Orioles failed to have a winning season.

Even then, Humphries and her daughter, Grace, would faithfully follow the team.

Of Humphries' two children she said of Grace, "She's my baseball fan." Her son, Jack, attends Calvert Hall College in Towson. "We would sit down and watch all nine innings even when they were 20 games below .500."

The mother-daughter fandom was at its zenith Oct. 3 in the second game of the playoffs against the Tigers when the Orioles staged a furious comeback to win, 7-6.

"When Delmon Young hit that double, it was pandemonium," Humphries said. "It just doesn't get any better than that — unless we get to the World Series."

While she admitted buying the scalped tickets for $150 each, the woman who celebrated her wedding anniversary in May by attending a game with her husband, John, at Oriole Park has no regrets.

"It was worth every cent," she said.

She's not the only one in the building wearing Oriole colors on their sleeves, because that's exactly what the county's recycling and waste prevention manager, Charlie Reighart, does on a regular basis.

The 1977 Towson High School grad, who moved to Wiltondale when he was 8 and now lives in Loch Raven Village, is fond of the Oriole jacket he wears to work and is crazy about the Orioles.

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In fact, for 27 years he has shared season tickets with Ruxton resident Greg Cross, who is not the same longtime friend with whom he attended all three World Series games in Philadelphia in 1983. That was Dave Voreacos, a pal since they were in third grade together at Stoneleigh Elementary School, who was a graduate student in the City of Brotherly Love in those days.

They took public transportation to the games, and Reighart was in full-on Oriole gear. Voreacos was less enthusiastic about that idea, fearing the natives may take umbrage.

"Actually, nobody did me any bodily harm," Reighart said. "They said some things to me, but that wasn't going to stop me."

Here's the kind of fan Reighart is: While attending Yale Law School, he drove from Connecticut to take his then-girlfriend and now wife, Beth, on a date.

When she asked him where he would like to go, he suggested that they go Memorial Stadium to watch the Orioles play. She agreed, and they drove from Dickenson College to Baltimore and back, a three-hour round trip.

The couple have passed on their love of the Birds to their children, Andrew, a grad student at the University of Maryland, and Diana, studying in Germany where she pays $25 per game to watch the Oriole on the Internet.

Lynn Wenzl, who works in the county's Department of Aging, doesn't get to as many games as she would like, but follows the team on TV.

Still, Wenzl attended a recent Orioles rally held in Patriot Plaza, the area that separates the Historic Court House from its more modern counterpart.

Wenzl, a Cockeysville resident, said her dad, Jerry Eikenberg, was the reason she has been an Oriole fan well before she attended Dulaney High School.

She shares a love of the team with many of her fellow county employees.

"There are a lot of rabid fans here," she said.

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