Mayor renames Mount Royal Avenue 'Orioles Way'

The Baltimore Sun
The fight between the Orioles and the Kansas City Royals has gone to the streets

Baltimore and Kansas City have taken to the streets over the baseball battle between the Orioles and the Royals.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered the city's Mount Royal Avenue stripped of some of its road signs Friday and had the "offensive" street name replaced with a moniker Baltimoreans may find more appealing: Orioles Way.

The ceremonial road renaming comes after Kansas City Mayor Sly James and the City Council there on Thursday declared that the city's Baltimore Avenue would become Royals Avenue.

The teams faced off Friday for the first game of the American League Championship series.

"I don't throw the first punch, but once it's out there, we've got to handle our business," Rawlings-Blake said.

City Councilman Brandon M. Scott first got word of Kansas City's shenanigans Thursday, then saw coverage of the road renaming on ESPN's "SportsCenter" that night. He said he immediately texted Rawlings-Blake to figure out a plan.

"That's the lowest, to be embarrassed on 'SportsCenter,' " Scott said.

By 10 a.m., William Johnson, director of the city's Department of Transportation, got word that the mayor was calling for a symbolic scrubbing of the word "Royal" from city streets.

A collection of bright orange street markers bearing the Oriole Bird's smiling face and the words "Orioles Way" were quickly produced.

Not all Mount Royal Avenue signs will be taken down — out-of-towners have to get around somehow — but the ones removed will be replaced with "Orioles Way," at least temporarily.

The new signs will stay put "until the Orioles are done winning the World Series," Johnson said.

Mount Royal Avenue takes it name from an old estate established in 1792 along the Jones Falls. Hugh Lennox Bond, grandson of the man who built a mansion there, went on to lead the Know-Nothing Party in Baltimore and serve as a criminal court judge. It is through his efforts that the city's first African-American schools were opened, according to old newspaper accounts.

In Kansas City, Baltimore Avenue runs through a vibrant downtown neighborhood lined with homes and businesses, said James' spokeswoman, Joni Wickham. The idea for changing the name came to James from a Kansas City woman via Twitter.

Meanwhile, Rawlings-Blake also challenged James to a wager, saying she's placing her confidence in Baltimore's "gritty, resilient team" that refuses to give up.

Under the terms, if the Orioles win the series, James must dress in full Orioles gear, light City Hall in Kansas City a bright orange and temporarily change the name of the city's Baltimore Avenue to "Baltimore Orioles Avenue."

Rawlings-Blake also wants James to donate indoor fitness balls and jump ropes to Baltimore's Recreation and Parks Department and send her the "President's Tray" from Kansas City's famous Gates Bar-B-Q.

In the event the Royals take the series, James wants Rawlings-Blake to refer to the city's blue crab cakes as "Royal blue crab cakes" until the World Series ends, and send some to his office. He also wants her to travel to Missouri to read to students there and post a video online of her singing John Long's parody of "Royals" by Lorde.

Baltimore Sun research librarian Paul McCardell and reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

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