As of 2013, 23.3 percent of Harford County's population of nearly 250,000 is 18 years old or younger, according to U.S. Census data, meaning almost a quarter of Harford's population has little to no memory of when the Baltimore Orioles made their last appearance in the American League Championship Series.
"It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen in baseball," 15-year-old Ben Workman, of Forest Hill, said Monday of the Orioles' recent postseason performance, which has earned them a spot in this year's ALCS.
Ben, who was born in 1999, wore an Orioles jersey while shopping with his mother, Lisa Workman, 48, at Poor Boys Sports in Abingdon, a popular location for Baltimore teams' items such as hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts, and racks were filled with bright orange shirts bearing slogans to celebrate the Orioles' three-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers to win this year's American League Division Series.
The final game was Sunday in Detroit, and the O's won 2-1.
They will take the home field Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards against the Kansas City Royals, and a new generation of Harford County fans will get to experience Orioles Magic in the postseason.
The team that wins four games of the seven-game series advances to the World Series.
The Orioles' previous fight for the American League championship and a shot at the World Series came in 1997, but the Cleveland Indians were the victors.
The Orioles went on to experience more than a decade of losing seasons, a slide that was arrested with a 2012 postseason appearance as the wild card team, although the New York Yankees defeated them in the subsequent American League Division Series.
Workman's son joined the Junior Orioles Dugout Club, which is open to fans 14 years old and younger, when he was 5 years old, but he has aged out.
Members get a voucher to 10 games per season, and they can bring family and friends – who have purchased reduced-price tickets – to those games, according to the Dugout Club web page.
"We kept going, even though they were losing," Workman said of prior Orioles seasons.
She said her older son, Alex, 19, went to an ALDS game in Baltimore last week.
"He said that's the loudest he ever heard that place," she said of the hometown crowd at Oriole Park.
Workman, who graduated from high school when the Orioles won their last World Series in 1983, remembers watching games with her grandfather.
"I remember him saying, 'Ain't the beer cold!' " she said, referencing famed Oriole broadcaster Chuck Thompson's catchphrase.
Other fans in Poor Boys, who were slightly older than Ben Workman, but only toddlers when the Orioles were in the ALCS, were also excited for the upcoming games.
Makenzie Beers, 20, of Bel Air, looked through merchandise with her boyfriend's mother, Karen Amos, 56, of Fallston.
"I have vivid memories," Beers said of the 1997 league championship. "That's just because my grandmother's a huge fan."
Amos grew up watching Orioles games in their former home, Memorial Stadium, and she saw Oriole greats such as Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Boog Powell.
"They're exciting to watch, and they've got a great leader, can't beat Buck," she said of the present-day Orioles and their veteran manager, Buck Showalter, who will make his first appearance in a league championship series.
The older generation weighs in
Older fans in the area have fond memories of multiple playoff and World Series appearances by the Orioles during the 1960s, '70s and early '80s.
Don Morrison, 70, of Perryville, remembers when the former St. Louis Browns came to Baltimore in 1954 and became the modern-day Baltimore Orioles.
"For the first six years, they were horrible," Morrison said. "You got used to rooting for a team that never won."
The team began to find its way during the early '60s, and Morrison said O's fans became accustomed to a nearly 30-year streak of regular postseason appearances, including three World Series titles.
Morrison is a former teacher and coach at Aberdeen High School, as well as a former director of public information for Harford County Public Schools and reporter and editor with The Aegis.
Morrison coached baseball during his time at Aberdeen, and future Hall of Fame Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. was on the squad.
"All through his growing years, [the Orioles] were competitive to win the pennant," Morrison said of Ripken, whom he knew as Calvin.
He praised the 2014 team, which he watched go through the ALDS on television "and lived and died with every pitch."
"It really is a team," Morrison said. "It's a group of blue-collar types who seem to really care about each other and really play as a team."
Harford County Executive David Craig, who grew up and still lives in Havre de Grace, also watched Orioles games as a child, either on television or at Memorial Stadium when visiting relatives who lived in Baltimore on the weekends.
Craig, who is Harford County's longest-serving chief executive with 10 years in the position, is in his final moths in office. He has also served as Havre de Grace's mayor, a member of the City Council and a Maryland state delegate and senator. He unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for governor.
"Usually, if I get to go to two games a year that's a lot," he said of finding time to go to Orioles games. "Next year will be different."
Craig attended the second game of the ALDS at Camden Yards.
"It was very loud, and we all had our orange cloths that we could circle around," he said of the rally towels given to fans.
Craig compared Showalter to the Orioles' Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, who died in 2013; he credited much of the Orioles' success during the 1960s and '70s with Mr. Weaver's "ability to coach and understand players."
"They were both very astute in knowing what's going on," Craig said of Showalter and Mr. Weaver.
Worthy ALCS opponent
The Orioles will face in the ALCS the plucky Kansas City Royals, who defeated the Oakland Athletics in extra innings to take the wild card title, and they swept the Los Angeles Angels in three games to take their division series.
Their last postseason appearance was in 1985, when they won the World Series.
"They're a good team," Craig said. "It's been 29 years since they've been there; it's been 31 years since we've been there."
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Patrons, some of them in Orioles gear, gathered at Looney's Pub in Bel Air Monday afternoon. The bar and restaurant was packed with fans during the division series, and 98 Rock radio DJs did live broadcasts during the games.
"It was high energy," shift manager Jen Bowen said. "Everyone was cheering."
Bowen said Looney's managers expect large crowds for sporting events.
"It is the best place in Harford County to watch any game, especially the Orioles, since it's on every TV in the building," she said.
Fans Jeff Little, 54, and Keith Moore, 57, both of Bel Air, wore Orioles hats and shirts while at the Looney's bar.
Moore and Little noted the Royals will be a tough team to beat, with their strong bullpen, fielding and baserunning.
"I feel that we can go all the way," Little said. "The Royals will be a good opponent but I don't think they're ready for Camden Yards."