Baseball in Baltimore

It was a mass emotional purging of 14 years of losing and bad baseball and inept decisions in the Warehouse. It happened on a dreary night in October, the rain falling in sheets for Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Orioles and Yankees at Camden Yards. That night, in front of a national TV audience, Orioles fans were legendary. Even after a 2-hour, 36-minute rain delay, there didn't seem to be an empty seat in the house. And when Orioles starter Jason Hammel threw the first pitch with the sellout crowd on its feet and screaming and twirling those orange "BUCKle Up" towels, it took your breath away. All night long, the joint seemed ready to explode. In their dugout during the rain delay, the Orioles had fretted about what the weather would do to the crowd's energy. They shouldn't have worried. This crowd was there to party. Hour after hour, they howled and stomped and screamed "Let's Go O's," drowning out the smattering of Yankees fans who tried to muster a cheer. They laughed and danced and told their kids to remember this night, because this was how baseball was meant to be in this town. It was a wondrous sight. Here it was, late on a night as inviting as winter on a Scottish moor. The fans were tired. They were cold. They were wet. They had kids they had to get up for school the next morning and jobs they had to go to. And still they stayed. Only when Russell Martin hit a ninth-inning bomb into the left-field stands off Jim Johnson that touched off a five-run Yankees rally did the most charming ballpark in all the land begin to leak fans. By then it was after midnight. The Orioles would go on to lose 7-2. But their fans were the winners that night, and the whole country knew it. -- Kevin Cowherd
Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron
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