MEMORIAL STADIUM: OUR ORIOLES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

My most vivid memory of Memorial Stadium was rekindled on Aug. 2 by the sight of thousands of fans camped out to buy tickets for the last game. For, you see, I was the 15-year-old 10th grader who cut school on April 15, 1954, to buy the first bleacher tickets for the first big-league game of the Baltimore Orioles.

My friend Penny and I spent the night at my aunt's house in Waverly and arose before dawn (4 a.m. to be exact) to hurry over to the stadium and camp out until tickets went on sale. To our great surprise we were the first in line. Soon after, three boys from Towson arrived with a radio, which helped wile away the long hours until the ticket window opened. Our own intrepid male friends slept in and didn't arrive until 7. We spent our time with music and cards and food until the tickets went on sale at 11.

Of course, that was only part of the day. We still had to stay to see the game. And for some reason, which escapes me now, we didn't even get seats in the bleachers. Instead, we had to sit on the center-field grass on newspapers. The O's won and the game went into the history books. And, to our amazement, we became minor celebrities -- even subjects of a story in The Sun (that didn't help us much when we returned to school the next day to explain our absences).

Barbara Koehler Baltimore The single memory that tops my list was a feat that I believe only happened once in the 38 years that major-league baseball was played at Memorial Stadium.

However, it was accomplished by a member of the visiting team as we sat in our rented chairbacks to keep from getting splinters from the wooden benches in the upper deck.

As rare as a perfect game or an unassisted triple play, Cleveland Indians outfielder Rocky Colavito hit four home runs in one game.

As he stepped on home plate after rounding the bases for the fourth time, he stopped and tipped his cap to the crowd.

After seeing that game, throughout the rest of my Little League and Pony League days, every time I was on deck getting ready to bat, I put the bat behind my neck and gripped the handle and the barrel, imitating Rocky Colavito.

Larry Martin Catonsville

Thirty-seven years ago, when the Baltimore Orioles were to play their very first home game, a special event happened in my parents' life.

I was born -- April 15, 1954. It just so happened that my dad had tickets to that game, but needless to say, he didn't go.

Debbie Connor Baltimore

I was at Memorial Stadium for a night game on Sept. 20, 1960, with 18,914 fans, when Ted Williams made his last Memorial Stadium appearance. He came to bat in the top of the first with Willie Tasby on first. Ted's final at-bat was not too auspicious as he lined to first, doubling up Tasby.

He was replaced in the bottom of the first inning by Carroll Hardy.

3' Still, it was a thrill to be there!

Irvin J. Lustman Baltimore

In the late '50s, when I was 7 or 8 years old, I often watched Orioles games on television with my father. In those days, of course, all we had was black-and-white television.

The very first time that my dad took me to the stadium to see the Washington Senators play the Orioles, I was completely awe-struck by the rich green color of the grass on the playing field.

As a child growing up in Baltimore, playing on dirt fields and watching black-and-white television, I just didn't think anything could be so beautiful.

Edward Bauer Baltimore

I'm not sure of the year, but I was about 15 years old. It was a special Fourth of July game: baseball, with fireworks to follow. Tom Phoebus pitched a no-hitter. I was never much into sports, )) so the fact that someone pitched a no-hitter was of no great importance to me. My friend and I just went there to waste a summer day and maybe pick up a few chicks.

What makes that day memorable are the events.

First off, we went to the stadium without enough money to get in. We were 2 cents short and the ticket-seller wouldn't let us slide. While standing there deciding whether or not to panhandle for the extra money, I was mugged. They didn't get any money, but I did get my lip busted.

I asked the ticket-taker if I could go to the first-aid station, so he let me and my buddy slip in without a ticket. At the station, they gave me a bag of ice to put on my lip.

We decided to head to the general admission bleachers to watch the game because we figured that nobody would bother us about a ticket there.

I must've looked pretty pathetic sitting there with blood on my shirt, a busted lip and a bag of ice on my face because these two girls came up and asked me if I was all right. What a great

pickup gimmick.

We ended up spending the day together and coming back later that night to watch the fireworks. That's my memory of Memorial Stadium and also the last time that I was there.

Ron Parks Baltimore

I was lucky enough to have a ticket to the 1979 World Series. It was the first game, and Ken Singleton hit the first souvenir ball up over Section 4. It hit the cement wall and when it came down no one could find it.

I had my pocketbook open between my feet. When I looked down, there was Kenny's ball right in my pocketbook. I was very excited.

Maybe I was lucky because I was sitting next to Pat Santarone's and Earl Weaver's wives. It sure made my day.

Catherine Harrison Baltimore

The date was April 19, 1977. My friend Phil and I decided on the spur of the moment to go see the Birds play Cleveland. We parked on Chestnut Avenue, walked a few blocks to the ballpark, plunked down about six bucks apiece for box seats and ended up three or four rows behind the visitors' dugout. The announced attendance that chilly evening was under 5,000. These days, the Orioles probably draw more than that for their winter carnival.

The Birds trailed by two runs with one out in the bottom of the 10th, with Indians reliever Dave LaRoche on the hill. Up to the plate strode a pinch hitter, Brooks Robinson.

He had lost his starting job to Doug DeCinces. The Orioles had left him unprotected in the expansion draft to stock the fledgling Blue Jays and Mariners, who hadn't picked him. He was a month away from his 40th birthday, and it showed. But he was my childhood hero. He was Phil's childhood hero. He was the childhood hero of every kid who grew up loving baseball in Baltimore in the '60s. One of the Indians fans said something about "this old fossil." Me, Phil and about a dozen other guys all turned at once and without saying a word we let the Indians fans know they were treading on hallowed ground.

Brooks worked LaRoche to a 3-2 count and then fouled off pitches for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, Brooksie delivered. He hit one of those bolts that you know is gone the instant it leaves the bat. It was career homer No. 268, and I think everyone present that night sensed there would be no more, and there weren't. I don't know how many people were left in the park for the dramatic conclusion, but all of us went nuts. Totals strangers embraced. Grown men shed tears. To their credit, the Indians fans stood, smiled and helped us give the future Hall of Famer the ovation he deserved. I remember reading in The Sun the next day that even Earl Weaver had wept unashamedly.

@4 I'm thankful I was there to see his last hurrah.

Don Brizendine Baltimore

The day was May 8, 1966. I had been the lucky recipient of a lower box seat in Section 38, better yet for a doubleheader. The two hottest teams in baseball would take the field that afternoon -- the Baltimore Orioles and the Cleveland Indians.

There was only one problem -- I had a date with the nuns at St. Dominic's school to march in the annual May Procession. For a die-hard 14-year-old Orioles fan this was a tragedy, the equivalent of trading in Julia Roberts for Roseanne Barr.

After pondering my problem, I decided to perform my duty by marching in the procession, then racing to Memorial Stadium in hopes of catching the second game.

The nightcap featured the Tribe's nearly unhittable Luis Tiant vs. the O's Frank Bertaina. As I entered the stadium and ran up the lower ramp of Section 38, my ears took in the loudest ovation I had ever heard.

As I reached the top of the runway my eyes caught the descent of the only fair ball hit out of Memorial Stadium. Looking directly down the third-base line, I realized that fate had positioned me at the perfect time and place to witness Frank Robinson's monstrous home run.

That was just one moment of a great season among a lifetime of Memorial Stadium memories.

Patrick Hennegan Abingdon

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