Dad was a faithful Orioles fan. He would watch the games on TV or listen to them on the radio while he sat on the porch sipping a National Boh. He didn't go to the stadium, though. He claimed that he enjoyed the games more at home without all the hassles and crowds. I, on the other hand, was not as devoted a fan as my father but I liked the hassles and crowds of the ballpark and usually managed to tag along with friends' families.
But one day, Dad took me to an Oriole game. Just me and Dad. I was in the fifth grade and it was jacket night. I know it was early in the season because I wore my jacket to school the next day. We sat in the upper deck on the end of the row. Dad got a little nervous when I had to go to the bathroom. I was also a little nervous about going to the bathroom alone. I was afraid of not finding my way back to our seats. Dad went down to get a beer for himself and a hot dog for me.
I can't tell you who the Orioles played that day or who won, but when I think of that night, I remember just sitting next to Dad with the crowd all around us and feeling content to just being there with him.
That trip to Memorial Stadium was the only one I ever made with my dad, and it has become one of my most treasured memories of him since his death several years ago.
Peggy O'Neill Baltimore
When it comes to having Memorial Stadium memories, I was very spoiled. From age 6 to 23 I attended more than 250 Orioles games at the stadium, most often sitting in the box seats in Section 40.
I live in Los Angeles now and will miss Memorial Stadium tremendously.
I attended most of those 250 games with my father, whunfortunately and unexpectedly passed away on April 30th of this year. Shortly before his death I talked with him about flying in to attend the last series at Memorial Stadium and the first series at Camden Yards.
So many of my memories of Memorial Stadium involve my dad.
For instance, we had a superstition of switching seats during the seventh-inning stretch rendition of "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" if the Orioles were losing. Part of the superstition was that we did it without discussion. We even convinced ourselves that seat-swapping "won" many games for the Orioles in the late innings.
I remember his stories of courting my mother at Orioles games, and he proudly showed me his score card from the night Hoyt Wilhelm no-hit the Yankees. He used to tease me, saying that when I was 6 or 7 years old, I referred to "The Star-Spangled Banner" as "the baseball song."
I remember the cold April day in 1967 when we watched Steve Barber and Stu Miller combine on their infamous no-hitter loss when future Gold Glove winner Mark Belanger made an error as a defensive replacement. That game took place during Passover, the Jewish holiday in which we are not permitted to eat leavened bread. So, I can also remember eating matzo sandwiches as we watched a very wild Barber rack up strikeouts and walks.
I remember our favorite game ever, in 1983. Through some crazy ninth-inning pinch-hitting, the Orioles tied a game against Toronto. The lineup changes forced utility infielder Lenn Sakata to become the 10th-inning catcher. Cliff Johnson hit a home run off Tim Stoddard to lead off the 10th. Then, three Toronto players reached base. Because the runners were anxious to run against the inexperienced Sakata, Tippy Martinez was able to pick off each Toronto base runner. The Orioles came back to win the game in the bottom of the 10th when Sakata, the goat from the previous night's game, hit a three-run homer to win the game. That winter, WFBR broadcast replays of some of the best games of the 1983 championship year. My dad made an audio tape of the broadcast for me and I still cherish it.
Sitting in the second row of the box seats in Section 40 waalmost a perfect place to watch a game. Our seats were next to the visitors' on-deck circle and we were close enough to converse with visiting players. We could hear exactly what Weaver and Luciano yelled about during their arguments. We were able to catch almost a dozen foul balls over the years. Better yet, my seat was directly in line with the third-base line and I was able to see Brooks Robinson perform his miracles from the perfect vantage point.
I also remember Reggie Jackson correctly predicting to us that Dick Green would break up Wayne Garland's attempt at a no-hitter in the ninth inning of a game against Oakland in 1975 and then his hitting a double to beat us.
I remember Mr. Mahlstedt, the usher, who let us use empty seats for friends who bought general admission tickets but wanted to sit with us in the box seats. I remember the pungent smell of stale beer, cigar smoke, hot dogs and fresh-cut grass that wafted over you as you entered the park through the Section 40 ramp. It was more intoxicating than any perfume.
I remember when the starting pitchers warmed up in front of us on the cinder track between the dugout and the screen behind home plate. That's how I learned what Nolan Ryan's 98-mph fastball looked and sounded like. I remember watching batboy Jay Mazzone's skill at catching balls off the screen with his hooks in the late 1960s. And I remember when 12,000 people constituted a good crowd.
It is remarkable how many vivid memories of my late father are linked to the days and nights we spent watching and cheering at Memorial Stadium. As Rex Barney would say, "Thank you!"
Barton P. Pachino Marina del Rey, Calif.
Memorial Stadium will always be special for me, but not because of the greats of the game.
What happened on 33rd Street one summer evening in 1986 transcends all of that. It was there that I took my son to his first big-league ballgame.
Climbing up the steps to the top of the upper deck, we took our seats and as he watched with wonder the happenings below, I watched him.
After a couple of innings we went in search of hot dogs and drinks and then climbed back to our perch.
I watched with eagerness and pride as my boy was fixing to take his first bite out of an Orioles frank. He squeezed the front of the bun and opened his mouth only to have the dog squirt from the bun and roll step by step down the stairs. I think he would have cried had I not laughed.
He got another dog. I ate a bun and for one magical moment this dad was a kid again.
Later, as we walked from the stadium the little fellow grabbed my hand and with a face full of appreciation said, "I love you, Dad!" It was a night I'll never forget.
Wilson Adams Gambrills