February 14, 2012

April 6, 1984 - Happy Valentine's Day

Well, not in 1984, but happy V-Day in the present. I love my wife and my daughters, but in the world of baseball, my love is the Baltimore Orioles. They're not an easy team to love. I was in grade school the last time they won it all, and I really have no memory of it honestly. I do remember sheepishly wearing my O's hat to junior high in the midst of their 20 game losing streak to start the season. I remember a punk kid in the Bronx during the playoffs turning an out into a home run. I remember the indignities of Tejada, Palmeiro, and steroids. I was in college the last time we had a winning season, and I refuse to believe how long ago that really was.

But I'm focusing on the negative. Why do I love the Orioles? How about my first little league team having the same name? How about my first pack of baseball cards (1982 Topps) containing a card of my soon to be idol, Eddie Murray? How about my first and only trip to Memorial Stadium, in its final season and in the middle of a Cal Ripken MVP campaign? Or what about my first trip to Camden, when right before we went on vacation Eddie Murray was traded back to the O's, and I got to see him hit a home run into right-center field to tie Lou Gehrig on the all time home run list?

No matter how hard they are to love, I do still love them. Somebody has to! I'll play thousands of games to finish this Statis Pro season, but the 162 featuring the Baltimore Orioles will be my favorite by far. They were the first scheduled team of the 1984 season, but three days later this is only their second game. The wait was worth it!

Game #31 - Baltimore Orioles, 16 @ Minnesota Twins, 1
The Twins actually had a lead in this game, as they scored the first run off Mike Flanagan in the bottom of the first. But Minnesota was missing a third of its starting lineup due to injuries, and the bottom fell out of their bullpen. Wayne Gross hit a three run shot in the second, which John Lowenstein duplicated in the third. The O's added a pair of runs in the fourth and fifth too, and the route was on. Already ahead 10-1, the O's put up six more in the sixth inning, which had a nice symmetry to it now that I think of it. Three of those runs came courtesy of a Cal Ripken Jr. homer. Every Oriole starter recorded at least one hit and one run. Meanwhile, Flanagan settled down and had an easy day against an anemic offense.

Winning Pitcher - Mike Flanagan
Losing Pitcher - John Butcher
Player of the Game - Cal Ripken, 4-6, 2b, HR, 4RBI's, 2R's
Hall of Famers in the Game - Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray

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