Nick Markakis has night he'll 'never forget' in return to Camden Yards
By By Ryan Baillargeon
The Baltimore Sun|
Jul 28, 2015 at 7:30 AM
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters might have stolen the spotlight with his walk-off home run in the 11th inning Monday, but for most of the night, it was the Nick Markakis show.
The right fielder spent nine seasons with the Orioles before signing with the Atlanta Braves in the offseason, and Monday marked his first time returning to Camden Yards to play his old club.
Markakis led off the game for the Braves and the fans gave him a nearly one-minute standing ovation, growing louder until he took off his helmet and tipped it to the fans in right and left field.
"It was good," Markakis said of the ovation. "These fans have been great to me my whole career and tonight just shows what type of fans they are and how loyal they are. It was pretty cool."
The 31-year-old said he didn't know what to expect from the fans because he had never been through it before. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was pleased with the reception so many had been waiting for.
"I was pretty proud of how everybody responded to him," Showalter said. "It was one of those things where we were all in the dugout wanting to applaud too, but you kind of did it with your heart and not your hands."
When the fans finally settled into their seats, Markakis sliced the sixth pitch of the at-bat down the left-field line for a double. Showalter ended up with the ball, and he has a plan for it.
"I'm going to write a little something on it and send it over," Showalter said joking that what he puts on the ball might not be "completely fit for family time."
But his emotions turned as he addressed the tribute the Orioles showed on the big screen for Markakis in the middle of the second inning that included the video where he broke his wrist in 2012. Showalter complimented the montage before choking up.
Markakis said he missed about half of the video because he was in the dugout, but he caught the end.
"I didn't even know it was on until I kind of ran up and looked out, but it was cool," Markakis said. "These people are class acts over here."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was making his first trip to Camden Yards since taking over in 2011, said it was special because not every player gets that type of welcome in his return.
"The people here in Baltimore love him," Gonzalez said. "He deserved that. … I was moved by the ovation that the Baltimore crowd gave him."
Markakis finished the night 2-for-5 in the 2-1 loss. And while Wieters' extra-inning blast will be how the game is remembered for the records, the crowd's applause and the second-inning video created memories that will live long past Monday.