Dave is an usher at Camden Yards. Dave was not the usher for my section when I attended Saturday night’s Orioles/Indians game — that was John, of whom I have no pictures — but I saw Dave several times during the game, as he left his water bottle near the handicapped seating in front of me, and on the Light Rail heading home after the game I met Dave and we talked for several minutes. Both Dave and John, the usher in my section, were awesome. John treated the fans well and was a cheerleader for the team, slapping hands with fans whenever the Orioles scored, and even after the game, when Dave was off the clock and heading home after a long day at the ballpark, he wanted to know if I had a good time.
The ushers are the people fans interact most with at the ballpark, and John and Dave represented the Orioles well. They are every bit as important as the players on the field. They are an asset to the Baltimore Orioles organization and fully deserving of the accolades here.
Saturday night’s game was Maryland Flag Jersey Night; Morgan State University was providing special jerseys to the first thirty-five thousand fans. I went to last year’s game, specifically for the jersey, and I went back and forth for several weeks as to whether or not I’d go to this year’s game. Frankly, I wasn’t that excited by this year’s jersey. It lacked the simplicity of the 2017 and 2018 jerseys (which had a Maryland flag background in the Orioles wordmark on the standard white and black jerseys, respectively). I don’t hate it, but I understand the complaints that fans made that the design was “minor league.” Nonetheless, on Monday I went ahead and bought a ticket — they were plentiful online — on the reasoning that, even if I didn’t like the jersey, I surely knew people who would take it.
Saturday’s weather wasn’t great — stupidly hot with a chance of thunderstorms — but we had spectacular clouds around downtown Baltimore.
The gates opened at two o’clock, and I was there. I wanted to be sure of getting that jersey, even though there were thirty-five thousand available.
I needn’t have worried. I was there ten minutes before the gates opened, and the lines were not long.
But this gave me time to walk around the stadium — I’d not been there since last July — and Camden Yards is a nice ballpark with some fantastic views, especially from the third deck concourse. I’ll look in the direction of Federal Hill, where my ancestral namesake lived in the late-19th- and early-20th-centuries, and then look toward the B&O Roundhouse. (I feel like I visited there when I was younger, but I can’t quite recall.)
Before the game I also met local sportswriter Kevin Cowherd. He was doing an autographing of When the Crowd Didn’t Roar, his book on the Orioles-White Sox game was played in an empty Camden Yards during the Freddie Grey riots.
It was a confusing set-up — Cowherd was at a table on Eutaw Street, and he had piles of books on the table, but he couldn’t actually sell you one. You had to buy it from the Orioles team store, and the Orioles team store is 1) too small and 2) has poor traffic flow because it’s too small and too cramped. After navigating the team store, Cowherd autographed the book and asked me a couple of times how to spell my name because he wanted to make sure he got it right.
As the 4:05 start approached, so did the clouds.
Immediately after the Star-Spangled Banner, the grounds crew came out and laid down a tarp over the infield. The game then went into an hour-long rain delay.
And rain there, in fact, was. It was a heavy rain that lasted about ten minutes.
Of the game, there’s very little to say. I didn’t realize that Andrew Cashner was still in baseball, nor that he was playing for the Orioles. I don’t, sad to say, pay a lot of attention to American League ball these days.
I also had no idea that former Nationals Tyler Clippard and A.J. Cole were in the Indians bullpen, and I found it funny that Cole relieved Clippard. Neither were effective, and thanks to their efforts the Orioles, an inept team at the best of times, put the game out of reach early on.
As far as I could tell, Steve Geppi, the semi-retired owner of Diamond Comic Distributors, the company whose catalog I write each month, was not at the game. His seats are behind the first base dugout, and they were empty all game.
Midway through the game, the sound of police sirens and fire sirens echoed in my section of the stadium. I wondered why. Later, I saw why — there was a firetruck outside of Pickles Pub.
These are places I’ve heard of, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you where they were. My knowledge of downtown Baltimore is virtually nil.
The MTA’s Light Rail service past Camden Yards left much to be desired. We’re talking single car trains at fifteen or twenty minute intervals. I didn’t get home until almost eleven.
In answer to Dave’s question, yes, a good time was had.