Orioles reset '66 clocks with nostalgic flair


The batboy, Jay Mazzone, now has three kids of his own. Dave Johnson was all of 6. John Oates was a Virginia Tech sophomore. Elrod Hendricks was in Mexico. Eddie Weidner was the trainer, in his 50th year with the Orioles.

The year was 1966. Bleacher seats were 75 cents. Popcorn was a quarter. Ushers wore straw hats and, on Sundays, orange bow ties.

Nostalgia will run rampant tomorrow when the Orioles stage "Turn Back The Clock Day," a 25th anniversary salute to the 1966 season when the Orioles won their first American League pennant and swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in four straight in the World Series. More than 35,000 tickets have been sold.

"The Orioles shocked people on the West Coast," said Orioles general manager Roland Hemond, then the California Angels' farm director. "They thought L.A. would win."

The Orioles will attempt to re-create the aura of 1966. Clips from popular TV shows and commercials of the time will be shown on the Diamond Vision scoreboard and the top 10 songs of 1966 will be played.

Returning for the occasion will be some of the people who were part of the Orioles' fabric in that era.

Linda Warehime was the Orioles' original ball girl and first basesweeper. She has been a dispatcher for Genstar Stone Products for 15 years. In 1970, she was given a World Series ring.

"I hate to see Memorial Stadium go," Warehime said. "It has a lot of memories."

Mazzone, 38, a construction worker who lives in Carroll County, was the batboy for the visiting team and also the batboy for the AL in the All-Star Game in St. Louis. He met President Johnson that day.

"I met a lot of guys who were my heroes," said Mazzone, who gained national attention by handling bats and balls flawlessly despite the use of artificial hands. "In the World Series, before the last game of Sandy Koufax's career, I had my picture taken with him and he signed it."

Oates played in a summer league that year and didn't pay much attention to the Orioles (who would sign him the next season) until the Series.

"I was impressed by how young the pitchers were -- the Jim Palmers and Wally Bunkers," Oates said. "They were tall and slim and threw low and hard."

Hendricks recalls that the Orioles spurted from the gate, winning 12 of their first 13 games, only to have the Cleveland Indians, of all people, in hot pursuit.

"I rooted for the Orioles in the World Series because they were the underdogs," Hendricks said.

Then hailed as the "Babe Ruth of Mexico," where he hit 109 home runs in four years for Jalisco, Hendricks wound up with the Orioles in 1968.

In 1966 Weidner was a year away from retirement as the Orioles' trainer. Also the club's phrasemaker, it was Weidner who said, "They say an elephant never forgets, but what's he got to remember?"

Today, at 88, Weidner points out that his birthday is July 15, which means that on the 16th "I'll start for 90." He's thankful for that, and for the pension he receives from the players' fund.

"If you don't like that pension, there's something wrong with you upstairs," Weidner said. "If it wasn't for the players, where would this game be? I'm thankful for that place on 33rd Street and all the people in it."

A carpenter by avocation, Weidner made the Orioles' lockers one winter. Today he still does a "little woodwork," but mostly he walks his dogs, tries to "keep up the old pace," reads the New York Times and wonders why he is plagued by things like dry skin.

"The older you are, the quicker you get 'em," he said sagely.

It disturbs Weidner when he thinks about the Orioles abandoning Memorial Stadium after this season.

"It's kind of sad," he said. "There's nothing wrong with it. It has a way in and a way out."

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad