xml:space="preserve">
Jeff Berthney, chief of recreation for the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation, gleefully holds his ticket for Thursday's opening game of the American League Division Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Detroit Tigers.
Jeff Berthney, chief of recreation for the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation, gleefully holds his ticket for Thursday's opening game of the American League Division Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the Detroit Tigers. (DAVID ANDERSON | AEGIS STAFF, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Typically when the baseball playoffs roll around, the interest dwindles for Baltimore Orioles fans. Not this year.

Fans across Harford County are gearing up for Thursday evening's start of a five-game series pitting the Baltimore Orioles against the Detroit Tigers as both teams seek the American League Division Series title. The team that wins three games will advance to the next round of the playoffs.

Advertisement

"How many times in the past 15 to 20 years have we had anything exciting in baseball at the end of September?" Jeff Berthney, chief of recreation for the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation, asked. "And the Orioles are in the mix of it."

The Orioles were last in the post-season in 2012, when they were a wild card team that lost to the Yankees in the division series. This year, the Orioles enter the playoffs as the American League East champions, a title they last held in 1997.

"It feels like a very long time ago, and I didn't think it would happen again in my lifetime," Amanda Brennan, of Baltimore, said as she painted the second-floor hallway of 139 N. Main St. in Bel Air, where The Aegis has its office.

Big fans

The walls of Berthney's office are covered with Orioles memorabilia, including a photo of the Orioles' former home, Memorial Stadium, and a photo of Oriole greats including the late manager Earl Weaver, first baseman Eddie Murray and pitcher Jim Palmer, signed by all the players in the photo.

He wore a white shirt with the Orioles logo, and he had a team jersey hanging on a door. The jersey bears his last name and the number 54. He was born in 1954, the year the modern-day Orioles arrived in Baltimore.

Berthney's 60th birthday is in November, and he hopes it will come on the heels of a World Series victory for the O's.

Berthney grew up in Aberdeen listening to Orioles games at night on a transistor radio, and he has attended their postseason games during the 1960s, '70s and '80s, except when the O's went to the World Series in 1966, when he was still a child.

He and his wife, Maryann, plan to attend Thursday's game.

This year, he is looking forward to a "beltway series" with the National League Eastern Division champion Washington Nationals. He said the only thing better would be a World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are battling for the National League wild card spot, because his 31-year-old son, Jeffery, lives there.

The Pirates have defeated the Orioles twice in the World Series, in 1971 and 1979.

Berthney said his son regularly flies to Baltimore and they go to Orioles games together, but he will be out of town during the division series.

"This is great for the younger kids to be able to see this, and hopefully parents and kids spend quality time together," he said.

While painting Tuesday, Brennan sported an Orioles T-shirt and had a lunch bag bearing an Orioles logo.

Advertisement

Her husband, Casey, is the owner and operator of Brennan's Painting Service of Baltimore, and Amanda Brennan is a decorative painter who was helping her husband. They said they have multiple clients in Harford County.

"I'm really excited about it," said the 30-year-old Amanda Brennan, who is going to Thursday's game. "I've been an Orioles fan since I was 8 years old, so it's very exciting."

Amanda said she was in middle school when the Orioles were in the playoffs in 1997, the last year the team clinched the AL East.

Going to the game

Jeff Rosier, 22, said he has few memories of when the Orioles were in the postseason during the late 1990s.

"I've been going to Orioles games since I was 3," he said." We obviously haven't made the playoffs much."

Rosier is the property manager at Your Space Storage in Bel Air, and the property off Route 924 is decked out in Orioles and Ravens banners.

He will experience the postseason fever in person Friday when he goes to the second home game against the Tigers.

"It's going to be awesome," he said. "It's going to be awesome."

Larry Noto, of Bel Air South, has tickets to all three of the home games in the Orioles-Tigers series; at 38, he has had few experiences seeing the Orioles play in the postseason, other than the 1983 World Series, which the Orioles won, and when the team was in the playoffs during the late 1990s and in 2012.

In the more recent instances, the Orioles have not made it past the early playoff rounds, though.

"The energy level and the excitement in that ballpark, I never experienced anything like that, except maybe the victory parade for the Super Bowl," Noto said, referring to his experience seeing playoff games at Camden Yards in 2012 and the Ravens' Super Bowl victories.

The winners of the Orioles-Tigers and Angels-wild card series will face each other in the American League Championship Series, and the winner of that series will face the National League champ in the World Series.

"I think what everyone's realized is that this team and this franchise is now a contender," Noto said of the Orioles.

Noto created a free video of Orioles highlights set to the tune of the hit song "Let It Go," from the Disney movie "Frozen."

The video is titled "Let's Go O's: Magic Unfrozen." It was posted on YouTube Monday, and it had 724 views as of Tuesday afternoon.

The lyrics of "Let it Go" were changed to lyrics celebrating the Orioles' playoff run.

The parody lyrics include the chorus:

"Let's go O's, Let's go O's/Win it all for Baltimore/Let's go O's, Let's go O's/See the fans in orange stand and roar."

"The rhythm of "Let it Go" and "Let's go O's" is very similar, and I just thought, 'This could be a fun song,'" Noto recalled.

Michele Petti, of Kingsville, Noto's friend, sang the new lyrics.

"We've been friends for a long time, and she has a great voice," he said.

Noto is the director of marketing for the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and he also performs stand-up comedy. He also created the popular "In Buck We Trust" T-shirt to honor Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was hired in 2010 and is credited by many fans with shepherding the team through its recent winning seasons.

"Even though they're just fun side projects, they're still about getting people to feel good about Baltimore," he said of the video and T-shirt.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement