Baltimore Memorial Stadium was “Awestruckingly” Beautiful
It’s sad to think of how few of the major league stadiums I played in remain today. Time passes, change is inevitable, but I really miss this ballpark.
In many of my past stadium reviews, I write about many of the greats that played in them. Stadium after stadium, adorned with some of baseball’s all-time greats – a thrill of a lifetime to play on the same fields, truly awesome. Well, it gets no better than this stadium for becoming awestruck – I came up to bat and look to the left, there stands the Ironman himself, Cal Ripken, I look to my right, there stands one of the “Incredibles” himself, Eddie Murray. Directly in front of me on the Mount Rushmore hill, Jim Palmer. Need I say more, as to why Baltimore Memorial Stadium is number three on my list of most beautiful major league stadiums of yesteryear? However, I will say more, and maybe more incredible, I could really hit the ball in Baltimore Memorial. Need I remind you that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to ballplayers, beauty is in the stat sheet?
When I played in the major leagues, the Baltimore Orioles were coming to the end of their glory years, with the likes of too many great players to recall, including, Brooks and Frank, Boog and Davey, Mike and Jim, manager Earl, and on and on. Baseball people know their last names and so did I, from watching all their World Series runs, as a kid, who loved baseball. The pride that swelled in me from playing in the same stadium, along with being on the same field with the 1983 World Champion Orioles, led by Cal and Eddie, was immense. We all know Cal’s record breaking streak of games, but you may not know he prepared for that streak by playing all 33 innings in the longest professional game ever in a Triple A game before coming to the big leagues. Eleven separate times, Eddie Murray hit a home run in the same game from both sides of the plate. I admire players, who switch hit, and to be as great as he, was truly remarkable.
Baltimore Memorial Stadium and Me
Unlike many major league stadiums, I felt comfortable and confident playing in Baltimore Memorial Stadium. Maybe it was the way I saw the ball there, or their great, down-home type fans, I am not sure but I looked forward to playing there, like few other major league stadiums. Oh yea, I hit at a beautiful .356 clip in games there, well above my lifetime average, obviously, or you would have remembered me.
That average was boosted greatly by my 5 hits on Jim Palmer day in 1985. This JP tried to steal the day from that JP, but not to happen, but one of my best major league memories, nonetheless. The cool thing was that I had a chance at six hits that day, but the hardest ball I hit that day in my last at bat, turned into a double play. No one could steal the day from the great Jim Palmer, who never let up a grand slam In his Hall of Fame career, and pitched in all 6 of the Baltimore Orioles world series, dating from 1966 to 1983. What an honor having faced him. Maybe they should bring him back to get to another World Series.
Even though that was my best individual hitting game in the big leagues, a series a year earlier in Baltimore may have saved my career, or at least my season. I had been struggling with the bat, having come off a couple of tough series with no hits against the Yankees and Tigers, as my “O for” was up in the twenty something range. The idea of a benching was not far from my mind, but along came Baltimore Memorial Stadium, in the knick if time. I finally picked up a hit the first game of the series, and proceeded to belt out 3 doubles the next night. Not just three hits, mind you, but three doubles in one game, from Mister Punch and Judy hitter, himself. Take that, and thank you Manager Del Crandall for sticking with me through the struggles of hitting big league pitching.
I recall some talk later in my career where there was a possibility of a trade for me to the Orioles, but that never happened. If only, maybe I would have stayed around a while and had more success. Baltimore Memorial Stadium was a special, beautiful place.
Well, I am down to the last two spots in my countdown of most beautiful major league stadiums. Funny thing is I miscounted and have three beautiful stadiums left – I will figure something out, will give you a clue to all three – the next .400 hitter, Jackie’s number, and demolished.