Excellent Adventure Day # 61
Bigger than Baseball
There were many things about Bill & Sue’s Excellent Adventure that seemed like they were written for a Hollywood fantasy screenplay. Nolan Ryan’s last no hitter, seven games in the World Series, Yankee Stadium, Good Morning America…on and on it goes. Who would believe it?
But the script writers missed this one. I’ve been a, occasionally rabid, fan of the Baltimore Orioles since I was a little kid. They were supposed to win this game instead of giving up six runs in the 8th inning and losing 8-4. Come to think of it, they really weren’t supposed to be in last place in that game either or finish 6th in the American League East that year. But the Orioles just weren’t very good in 1991 and yet, then and now, it just didn’t and doesn’t seem to matter very much.
The game we went to 29 years ago tonight remains one of my fondest memories of the trip, not because of what happened on the field and not because of the stadium, though it was the final year for Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. There isn’t even much video tape from that night. But my mom had driven down to Baltimore to see the game with us and for Stephanie Craib’s youngest son, being with her that night was more than enough.
We got to Baltimore early and walked around the Inner Harbor where ten months later Sue and I would sit in the front row at game #2 at Camden Yards and be blown away by the Orioles’ new ballpark, which seemed like it had been dreamed up by combining everything we had liked about various stadiums the season before. But in June of 1991 the park was still being finished and while the Inner Harbor was already a tourist destination in its own right, it was not yet what it would become when Camden Yards became its crown jewel.
My mother took us out to a nice early dinner and then we drove through the city streets amid a sea of notorious Memorial Stadium traffic on the way to the game and got to the park a bit late. Sue and I got up a filmed a bit together but mostly I remember sitting and watching the game.
My mom was dressed up, which will surprise no one who knew her and Sue and I put on somewhat fancier clothes than usual too. I recall that the Orioles gave us game tickets rather than the photo passes we usually had at major league parks but that was for the best since I can’t imagine my mother trailing after us as we wandered around shooting video. It also might explain why we don’t have any close shots of the game, along with the fact that the park was packed on a Saturday night…a crowd of more than 40,000 had turned out.
Memorial Stadium was demolished in 2002 but, of course, the Orioles still play in the city in beautiful Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I listed Fenway Park as my favorite major league stadium during the 1991 trip and I still love that classic park, but after going to OPACY the following year (and many since) I doubt that I will ever like any other park better again.
The morning after our visit to Baltimore it was back to the minors for Bill and Sue. We drove down to Hampton, VA, the home of the Peninsula Pilots of the Carolina League.