Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron
October 7, 2012
The rain began in earnest just as the orange-clad masses started to fill Camden Yards for the Orioles' first home playoff game in 15 years. Was some higher power really determined to prevent Baltimore from enjoying baseball? We wondered as much in the press box as we waited to see if this improbable Orioles club would begin its divisional series against the New York Yankees on Sunday evening, Oct. 7.
I was a senior in college, watching the games on television in far-off states, the last time the Orioles played meaningful baseball in October. And even after years building a veneer of professional indifference, it was pretty hard to resist the absurd charm of this 2012 team. It was after the Sept. 18 game in Seattle, when thousands of Baltimoreans stayed up almost until dawn to watch the Orioles win in 18 innings, that I said to myself, "This is really happening."
And it was. Not only did they win the wild card, they upset the Texas Rangers on the road in a sudden-death showdown. And that brought us to this damp, chilly night in Baltimore, with the fans yelling any time a grounds-crew member even peeked out at the tarp covering the field during a 2 1/2-hour delay. Orioles fans did themselves proud that night, showing they cared as much as they always claimed during 15 straight years of losing. Hardly anyone left, and when the tarp came off around 8 p.m., they unleashed a roar like few I've heard at Camden Yards. The intensity held through almost every pitch, until the Yankees finally broke the game open late.
An unrelentingly tense five-game series would follow, with the Orioles' dreams dying in the Bronx at the hand of Yankees ace CC Sabathia. But I'll never forget being there for that Sunday night roar, which had been building in Baltimore baseball fans for almost half my lifetime.
-- Childs Walker