Advertisement

Another IronBirds season, without the playoffs, is in the books, as rain again washes out final home game

Another IronBirds season, without the playoffs, is in the books, as rain again washes out final home game
Bel Air residents Carl Conway, left, and Richard Probst sit under an umbrella as they wait through a rain delay for the start of Friday's Aberdeen IronBirds game at Ripken Stadium. The game was ultimately called because of rain. (David Anderson/The Aegis)

Another Aberdeen IronBirds season came to an unceremonious end on the road Monday, after Aberdeen saw another bid to make the league playoffs end on the the road during the final weekend.

IronBirds fans also were deprived of a chance to cheer their team on for its final playoff push, when the last home game of the season was rained out Friday evening.

Advertisement

The ds fans hung in for nearly an hour and a half after the announced 7:05 start of Friday night’s game, but the heavy rains battering Harford County meant the final regular-season home game of 2018 at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium was a washout.

“Despite the best efforts of IronBirds staff, tonight’s game has been cancelled,” an announcer said over the stadium public-address system shortly before 8:30 p.m.

The team had been hoping to play the game, the last contest in a five-game, three-day home stand against the Connecticut Tigers, because the ‘Birds had the chance to make the playoffs.

But the road to the postseason came to an end Saturday when Aberdeen lost, 2-0, at Hudson Valley. The Renegades added insult to injury with a 19-3 drubbing of the IronBirds on Sunday, before Aberdeen came back to win the season finale, 8-7, on Labor Day.

“It’s disappointing,” IronBirds general manager Matt Slatus said after Friday’s game was called. “Our fans were great tonight.”

Aberdeen, which went 6 and 4 in its final 10 games, finished the season 38-37, tied for third – and last place – in the four-team New York — Penn League’s McNamara Division, seven games behind Hudson Valley, the division winner.

Slatus said this year is the second in a row that the last regular-season home game has been called on account of rain.

Team officials consulted with the New York-Penn League, and league representatives said the first pitch had to be thrown by 9 p.m., which could not happen considering the wet conditions on the field, according to the general manager.

“The beauty of it is, hope springs eternal, and we’ll get to see everybody again next summer for baseball season starting right back here in June,” Slatus said.

Fans can exchange their tickets from Friday’s game for credit toward any 2019 home game, although they must make the exchange no later than Oct. 1. People can either exchange their tickets in person at the IronBirds box office or send the tickets and a filled-out ticket exchange form through the mail to the box office, according to the Aberdeen IronBirds Facebook page.

Visit https://www.milb.com/aberdeen/ballpark/rainpolicy for more information on exchanging tickets.

Team officials also had to consider public safety, according to Slatus — the storm caused major flooding that washed out roads and bridges in parts of Harford County, and two people died after being swept away in floodwaters Friday night, according to Maryland State Police.

Sandra Gallion, president of the Level Volunteer Fire Company, walked through a group of fans standing on the stadium concourse, waiting for the rain to stop. Gallion was one of a few fire company members who made it. Many others who planned to attend, as the team was honoring local first responders Friday, were out handling storm-related calls.

“They’re doing what they do best, taking care of others,” Gallion said.

Advertisement

World Series memories

Fans, many of them carrying umbrellas or wearing ponchos, gathered on the concourse or sat in seats that are under shelter from higher decks.

They could visit the concession stands, or check out the trophy from the Baltimore Orioles’ 1983 World Series victory, plus meet four members of the team that won the Orioles’ last Major League Baseball championship nearly 35 years ago. The Oriole Bird mascot also walked through the crowd, greeting and posing for photos with fans.

The IronBirds are a Class A short-season minor league affiliate of the Orioles. Former Orioles players, and Harford County natives, Bill Ripken and Cal Ripken Jr., are majority owners of the team.

The former ’83 Orioles included Al Bumbry, Tippy Martinez, John Stefero and Bill Swaggerty, according to Slatus.

“It’s one of the nice things about being 20 miles away from our partner in [Oriole Park at] Camden Yards,” he said.

Bel Air resident Jim Shusta snapped a photo of the World Series trophy with his phone.

“I just wanted to come out to the last game and just see the trophy,” he said.

Shusta, 72, said he was living in Omaha, Neb. during the World Series, after he and a number of his Western Electric Co. colleagues had been transferred there from Baltimore earlier in 1983.

“It was very exciting because most of the people out there were White Sox fans, and it was neat to get into the series by beating the White Sox,” Shusta said.

The Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox to clinch the American League championship and went on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series.

Win as much as they lose

Neighbors Richard Probst, 53, and Carl Conway, 82, who live next door to each other in Bel Air, battled their way through flooding on Route 22 to get to Ripken Stadium — Probst recalled seeing a police vehicle on Route 22 at Carsins Run Road west of Aberdeen, where fast-moving water ran through the intersection.

They sat in the stands during the rain delay, with Probst holding an umbrella over both men.

“We wanted to catch the IronBirds one last time before the end of the season,” Probst said. “Because of this short season they play, it always sneaks up on us.”

Conway, who has lived in Bel Air since 1965, remembers when the Orioles won the 1983 championship. He recalled then-catcher Rick Dempsey being named Most Valuable Player for the World Series.

Conway was also a season-ticket holder for the IronBirds’ early seasons when the team came to Harford County in 2002. He said he now only goes to one or two games a year.

“They win as much as they lose — and vice versa,” Conway said, citing a winning percentage of around .500.

“They seem to have done a lot better in the last month or so,” said Probst, who is from south-central Illinois and a Chicago Cubs fan.

Slatus, the general manager, said Friday’s rainout was a “disappointing end to a fantastic year.” He said the IronBirds have been “piling on the runs,” especially since the league all-star break in mid-August.

“They’ve just been on a tear,” Slatus said.

Braving the rain for clients

Advertisement

Employees of the Cullison real estate firm in Perry Hall, along with various affiliates and clients, gathered under the pavilion overlooking right field for a client event during the baseball game.

More than 130 people planned to attend the event, but about 60 people were in attendance when the event started at 6 p.m.; about 40 people stayed through the rain delay, Angela Joyce, a transaction coordinator for Cullison’s said.

She braved the rain and traffic from her office in Perry Hall to her home in Forest Hill, then to Ripken Stadium.

“It was pouring rain and it was flooding, but I wasn’t going to miss our client event,” she said. “I took my time and I got here.”

Michael Straub, who is with affiliate Key Title Inc. in Bel Air, reported having to go through the flooded intersection at Route 22 and Carsins Run Road.

Tony Sergi, of affiliate Southern Trust Mortgage in White Marsh, said there was good beer and food at the client event, “and the company was even better.”

Sergi, who was 9 during the 1983 World Series and said “Rick Dempsey is still my favorite Oriole,” said he saw the trophy.

“That was awesome,” he said.

Advertisement
Advertisement