My baseball memory begins somewhere in the 1980s on 33rd Street. I can remember the first batting practice baseball I caught (Dante Bichette, Milwaukee Brewers), the nachos I helped spill during a rare visit to Memorial Stadium’s blue box seats, and the lesson I learned about appropriate ballpark decorum by violating it with an obscene heckle. At its best, the ballpark can teach a kid a lot about the game.
I got to thinking recently about the game I attended when Fred Lynn stroked two home runs. It wasn’t the home runs that stood out in my mind so much as it was the crowd’s reaction to them.
I was seated in left field that day. I joined those around me in giving Lynn a standing ovation when he took his spot in center field at the top of the inning following his second home run. Memorial Stadium’s center field seats weren’t used during the regular season, so it was up to the fans in the outfield corners to given the player his due. No one needed instructions from the scoreboard operator to do so.
I had never seen that sort of thing done before. At the time, I stood not by instinct, but rather because I was following the example set by the hometown fans in my section who demonstrated a respectful, appreciative gesture for a player. It was one of many lessons I would learn about ballpark etiquette.
I decided this week to track down that baseball memory and place it in time. After all, how many two-homer games could Fred Lynn have had at Memorial Stadium? I turned to Baseball-Reference.com to help me crack the case.
Lynn played for the Orioles from 1985-1988. He had five of his career 21 two-homer games during that stretch. Three of those games came at home, and two of them were part of a doubleheader. I only remember attending one doubleheader in my lifetime, and Chito Martinez, a member of the Orioles from 1991-1993, played in it. That eliminated all but one date.
I therefore saw Lynn go deep twice in the same game on July 10, 1987. Mystery solved.
Lynn homered in the bottom of the first inning that day and then again in the fifth inning. Both homers came off future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven. Lynn’s two-homer game at Memorial Stadium the following season followed a similar script as he again victimized Blyleven twice. Overall, Lynn hit six career home runs off Blyleven, the second-most he had against any pitcher.
In tracking down this baseball memory, I realized my original recollection had been slightly faulty. I thought Lynn homered in consecutive at-bats. Nevertheless, the lesson in fan etiquette has withstood the test of time.
What’s interesting is that Baltimore produced some Orioles Magic that day in 1987 and won the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. That should have been memorable to me. However, what stood out for me were the home runs and the fans’ reaction to them.
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.