Tuesday, August 12, 2014


        Last Friday night, August 8, the Baltimore Orioles and their fans (43,743 paid) had a huge celebration at Camden Yards, marking the club’s 60th season in the American League.
        As the Orioles’ first Public Relations Director and the last surviving member of the original front office executive staff, I was given the great privilege of throwing out the first pitch before the game between the Orioles and the St. Louis Cardinals. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and my family, all four generations of us!
        My sons and grandsons captured the moment on their cell phone videos and cameras, including the two photos to the right. After being anxious not to embarrass myself by throwing an errant pitch, I somehow managed to get the ball over the plate. That was a great relief, and from then on I could relax and enjoy the game.
        The Orioles obliged with a resounding 12-2 victory over the Red Birds in an offensive tour de force featuring six home runs. The O’s are currently leading the Majors in that category. The post-game show was spectacular, as the largest group of  Orioles’ Hall of Famers ever to gather were introduced and their exploits dramatically displayed on the big screen and even more amazingly on the wall of the famous Camden Yards Warehouse. Among the legendary diamond heroes were the five living Orioles in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson, and Cal Ripken.

A spectacular celebration!
        It was a remarkable visual history of the A. L. Orioles’ first sixty years, and for me a nostalgic backward leap across those years to my time as the Orioles’ P.R. Director. How well I remember Brooks Robinson when he joined the Orioles as a rookie in 1955. We all believed he was headed for greatness.
        Most of the spectators stayed for the entire post-game show, which ended with a brilliant laser-light and fireworks display, aided by the flashing of what seemed like a thousand cameras throughout the ball park.
Legendary Orioles Eddie Murray,
Brooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson
at the Hall of Fame luncheon
        Earlier in the day my son Woody, who had driven with  me down to Baltimore the day before, and I were invited guests at the Orioles' Hall of Fame luncheon hosted by the Orioles Advocates. There we had an opportunity to mingle with the players. Woody was thrilled to be able to sit next to his boyhood hero Brooks Robinson at our lunch table, and I sat next to my long-time friend Billy Hunter, who was the only player there who had played with the very first Orioles’ team in 1954. It was great to reminisce with Billy and Brooks about those beginning days.
   I have Bill Stetka, the Orioles’ Director of Alumni Relations and chief organizer of the celebration, to thank for the honor of being part of it. Bill and his colleagues did an amazing job! They had planned everything down to the most minute detail, and from that morning till late that night things could not have gone more smoothly or more precisely on schedule.
I have Bill Stetka (L) to thank for being here.
       There is much more to tell about that unforgettable day, but I shall limit myself to just one ironic anecdote. This year actually marks the Baltimore Orioles’ 62nd season in the American League, counting the two seasons in 1901 and 1902, before the franchise was moved to New York City. After a half century in the International League the Orioles returned to the American League when a group of Marylanders headed by attorney Clarence Miles acquired the St. Louis Browns franchise. Richmond, Virginia, was awarded the International League franchise vacated by Baltimore.
        I have been arguing for years that the current Orioles should not be linked to the St. Louis Browns (see The Orioles were Never the Browns) but to the earlier Baltimore teams who were first called "the Orioles" way back in 1883! How ironic that part of the pre-game ceremony, before I threw out the first pitch, was the presentation of a plaque from representatives of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Fan Club congratulating the Orioles on their 60th Anniversary and expressing their appreciation for the historical bond between the two baseball clubs!
        I had visited with the gentlemen at the luncheon and found them to be very pleasant. Though it was very much on my mind, I certainly was not about to mention my pet peeve to them on that occasion! But some day they and the rest of the baseball world will have to come to the rude awakening that the Orioles were never the Browns! I know, because I was there at the start.

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