“It’s not the start of the season I’m worried about; it’s the finish,” shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. says after the Orioles lose on Opening Day.
In a forgettable start, on April 4, Baltimore falls, 7-2, to Kansas City before an announced 51,889 at Memorial Stadium.
A parachutist who was supposed to sky into the ballpark with the first ball lands in the parking lot instead; fans boo the club’s new theme song, “That Magic Feeling,” which displaced “Thank God I’m A Country Boy”; and the Royals got the best of Dennis Martínez, the Orioles’ winningest pitcher in 1982.
It’s one of only two times during the season that Baltimore’s record will be under .500.
The loss marks the debut of Joe Altobelli, a low-key manager who replaced the irascible Earl Weaver, who retired after 14½ seasons, four World Series appearances and one world championship.
Two days later, in a chilly drizzle before an announced 7,904, the Orioles bounce back behind left-hander Mike Flanagan to rip the Royals, 11-1. Flanagan, wearing a T-shirt beneath his jersey that reads, “I’d Rather Be In New Hampshire,” allows seven hits in eight innings as the Orioles bats explode. Left fielder John Lowenstein gets three hits and three RBIs, and center fielder Al Bumbry scores four runs.