More than 20 members of the Orioles 1983 World Series championship team are in Baltimore for the 40th anniversary celebration. A few players didn’t expect to be invited back, saying their group won’t be the most recent to win a title.
They think this Orioles team is destined to make its own history.
A three-games series against the Mets begins with the Orioles holding the best record in the American League and second-best in baseball.
“Well, it’s really nice of them to say that, but we have a long way to go and big shoes to fill,” manager Brandon Hyde said today.
“That was a great team, so I’m excited to see some of these guys, meet some of them. I haven’t met very many of them, but fortunate to get to rub shoulders with Jim Palmer on most days and hear about ’83 stories and other Orioles past stories. It’s fun to have them here. It’s nice for them to be recognized in the ballpark, and they should be. It’s an awesome feat to win a World Series and they should be celebrated throughout the city.”
Many players from the ’83 team said they never felt like they were out of a game. Being down by a few runs meant having the opponent “right where we wanted them.” Staging rallies past the midway point was a regular occurrence, as if planned out.
Much like the 2023 club.
“I definitely feel like our guys feel like they’re never out of a game,” Hyde said. “We’ve got a lot of late-game wins here the last couple years, and it just gives you confidence. Guys getting big hits or guys making big pitches out of the ‘pen or big defensive plays late in the game. We’ve done an amazing job of that the last two years, and hopefully that’s something we can continue.
“When you come back and you win games late, it just continues to give you some confidence.”
John Stefero, a backup catcher in ’83 who still lives and works in Glen Burnie, sees similarities between the teams.
“The thing I remember most about the season is the team itself,” he said. “The team was a very close-knit team. Very similar to the team they’ve got out there right now. Everybody was together. There were no three or four guys who sat together all the time. It was, everybody was for everybody. When I was called up, they took me under their swing. And it didn’t matter who it was. They all took us under their wing.”
* Mets manager Buck Showalter has returned to Camden Yards for the first time since the 2018 season.
“He was nice enough to send me a text when I got hired here, which I really appreciated,” Hyde said. “For me, it shows the professional that he is. I’ll remember that. But I haven’t had a chance to speak with him.”
Showalter is downplaying his arrival, saying that he’s focused on his job with the Mets, which is a surprising fourth in the National League East.
“We’ve got a lot going on. It’s about the game and about the players. It doesn’t matter how I think,” he said.
“We came by the stadium last night. They’ve got a Topgolf now? Man, if they had had that here, I would have been a little later to the ballpark.
“Obviously, you spend that much time somewhere, you have a lot of memories.”
Showalter’s son, Nathan, a former Orioles scout, lives in Severna Park with his family. This isn’t the first visit to Maryland.
“The news is Baltimore, how well they’re playing, the Orioles,” Showalter said. “It’s great for the city and the organization. A lesson for all of us. Glad to see there’s some guys over there who were here when I was here, too. See how they’ve grown.”
Showalter, who guided the Orioles to the playoffs in 2012, 2014 and 2016 and finished with 669 wins in 8 ½ seasons, said it’s also good for baseball to have fans excited and coming back to the ballpark.
“Without a doubt. Are you kidding me? Because we’ve lived it a little bit,” he said.
“I say all the time, whether it’s Citi Field or Camden Yards, it’s our responsibility, you control it. They’re waiting to embrace you. You’ve got to give them something to embrace you about. It’s as simple as that. There’s an excuse around every corner if you’re willing to go there. The way baseball’s structured, everybody can compete if they kind of know who you are and how you need to go about it.”
The Orioles posted their first winning record last summer since 2016 and are gearing for a run at the World Series in Hyde’s fifth season.
“You take each day and you grind it and things can happen quicker than some people might perceive, and sometimes they take a little longer,” Showalter said. “We’re dealing with human beings and things change quickly. It’s not always played on a stat sheet. There’s people who have emotions, things that happen in their lives. Some people come quicker. You want to make the baseball gods laugh, tell them about your plans. Nobody’s that smart.”
The Mets lost to the Padres last year in the wild card round, had an active opening day payroll of $349,727,450 this season and are 50-58, becoming sellers at the deadline.
“It’s difficult for our fans, but I always look at ‘so far,’” Showalter said. “There’s some good things that can happen. I get to see a lot of things behind the scenes, especially with the young players and opportunities they’re getting. What’s going on, especially with some of the trades we’ve made and some of players we have in the system who are starting to do some things. But we all have expectations. I guarantee you Brandon and Mike (Elias) have expectations every year privately that something will happen, a guy will develop quicker than you thought, an injury will be behind somebody and their shoulder’s fine now. You always think best-case scenario privately, that, heck, you’re thinking you might win the next 50 games. Who knows?
“This game will knock you to your knees if you think you’ve got it figured out.”
Showalter said his family won't be at Camden Yards this weekend.
"They wanted to be here, but it's, not painful for them, but such a great time in their lives growing up and being that committed to a city like we are now to Flushing," he said.
Showalter was asked again about the Orioles and what they meant to his career. He kept trying to stay in the present. He can't be too reflective with more games to play. A "full-time job" focusing on the Mets.
“Right now, it’s about the Mets,” he said. “Believe me, I have the same feelings for the Mets and Queens that I had for Baltimore. We’ve always committed to every community we’ve had the honor of being in. We buy a house. We move in, donkeys, dogs. My wife’s done a great job with resale through the years.
“You realize, nobody’s getting out of this unscathed. … I know how much people care, the fans, and that’s what it’s about. So, I’m really happy that the fans of the Orioles, who are as good as it gets, are getting some return for their support. Just like we hope to do with our fans in Queens.”
* The Orioles flip-flopped the lineup, moving Jordan Westburg to fifth and lowering Ryan O’Hearn to sixth.
* Tyler Wells will pitch in a “short outing” Saturday with Double-A Bowie, per the Orioles. Cedric Mullins will appear in rehab games Saturday and Sunday.
* Infielder Jackson Holliday was activated from Bowie’s injured list today.