December’s here, and as the holiday season ramps up, many folks feel the tug of nostalgia. Perhaps your senses are already summoning fond memories as your stereo plays festive tunes and your kitchen is warmed and made fragrant by an oven cranking out cookies.
But winter’s arrival doesn’t have the market cornered on nostalgia. Memories of springs, summers and autumns past can trigger sentimental feelings, too, and that’s what “Orioles Classics” is all about.
This batch, still toasty from the MASN oven, will give you plenty of warm fuzzies. Included are a banner day for a Birdland icon, the celebration of the end of a long drought and the opening of the throwback baseball venue that smashed the cookie-cutter stadium concept.
We’ve also thrown in a game of recent vintage that might even make you nostalgic for 2020 (talk about a Christmastime miracle!).
So put Perry Como and Mariah Carey on pause for a few hours and test your first saucepan of egg nog while you enjoy “Orioles Classics.”
Thursday, Dec. 3 - 9:30 a.m. - There’s a first time for everything, and for the Orioles in 1966, it had been a long time coming. The franchise had moved to Baltimore in 1954 from St. Louis, where, 10 years earlier, the long-suffering Browns lost to the archrival Cardinals in their only World Series appearance. The road to the American League title was straightforward. The league had only 10 teams then, and no divisional playoffs to get past. At 97-63, the O’s outpaced the Minnesota Twins by nine games to qualify for the World Series. But the National League had a formidable champion in the Los Angeles (nee Brooklyn) Dodgers, who had eventual Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale atop their starting rotation. But it was Orioles pitching that truly stood out, holding the Dodgers to four runs for the entire series as Baltimore shocked the world with a four-game sweep. Obtained from the Reds in the previous offseason, Frank Robinson homered twice to win MVP honors in the ‘66 Fall Classic. In this 90-minute retrospective, you’ll relive the highlights of the World Series that signaled the beginning of the golden age of Orioles baseball.
Thursday, Dec. 3 - 11 p.m. - Two sluggers went toe to toe on May 29, 2013. The Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman won the battle, hitting three home runs to Chris Davis’ two, but the Orioles won the war, beating the Nats 9-6 before a Camden Yards crowd of 39,000. Steve Johnson - son of “Why Not?” season hero Dave - pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win. Nick Markakis and Steve Pearce each notched a pair of RBIs.
Friday, Dec. 4 - 11 a.m. - As the 1900s drew to a close, business and government girded themselves for a potential cyberspace disaster. They feared that the calendar’s transition on Jan. 1, 2000 would trip up the electronic clockwork and cause widespread network snafus, so they made frantic preparations for what was dubbed Y2K. Three and a half months after that event passed without major incident, some fans at the Metrodome in Minneapolis had a little fun with it, celebrating Cal Ripken Jr.’s reaching a milestone in his Hall of Fame resume with a sign that read “Y3K.” The Iron Man went 3-for-5 in the Orioles’ 6-4 win over the Twins on April 15, 2000, and that third hit brought him to 3,000 for his career, which he’d wrap the following season with a total of 3,184.
Sunday, Dec. 6 - 1 p.m. - Down 2-0 to the Diamondbacks in the eighth inning at Camden Yards on Sept. 23, 2016, the Orioles halved the deficit on a Pedro Álvarez home run. In the ninth, Matt Wieters sent the game to extra innings with a leadoff dinger. From there, O’s relievers Zack Britton, Tommy Hunter and Oliver Drake kept the D-backs off the board, and Mark Trumbo went yard in the 12th for the instant 3-2 win.
Monday, Dec. 7 - midnight - The Orioles rallied to a walk-off win over the Tigers on May 31, 2013 as Markakis and Chris Dickerson bookended the ninth inning with longballs. Following Markakis’ leadoff shot, Adam Jones and Davis singled, but José Valverde then got Wieters and J.J. Hardy on popups. Valverde, though, left a 2-1 pitch where Dickerson could get at it, and the O’s designated hitter gave his team a 7-5 victory.
Tuesday, Dec. 8 - 11 a.m. - If, like me, you’re old enough to remember the Foreigner hit “Feels Like the First Time,” you’ll also remember the O’s cracking the seal on their brand-spankin’-new ballpark on April 6, 1992. Even if you’re too young to have seen it live, you’ll get a feeling of renewal watching veteran starter Rick Sutcliffe masterfully work his way through the Indians lineup for nine innings in the Birds’ 2-0 triumph at the grand opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Tuesday, Dec. 8 - 6 p.m. - Fast-forward to the abbreviated season that ended this fall. It’s Aug. 22, 2020, and we find ourselves again at Camden Yards. The ballpark has a few miles on it now, but it still sparkles and is still capable of producing Orioles magic. With the home team trailing the Red Sox 3-1 in the eighth inning, Anthony Santander took Josh Taylor over the left field wall for a game-tying homer. The Sox scored a go-ahead run in the 10th on a bases-loaded walk, but a wild pitch in the bottom half re-tied the game, setting the stage for a walk-off RBI single from Pedro Severino.
Wednesday, Dec. 9 - 9 a.m. - The 2012 campaign wasn’t the first time the O’s had had a winning season, but after 14 consecutive losing years, it might have felt that way. On Sept. 13, 2012, the Birds would officially put an end to that streak of futility, ensuring at least a .500 season mark (they actually finished 93-69 and made the playoffs) with a 14-inning, 3-2 win over the Rays. The Orioles and their guests both squandered chances to put runs across. The Rays went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position while the O’s RISP count tallied 3-for-14. In the end, Manny Machado’s bloop single provided the game-winning RBI. Orioles lefty Randy Wolf scavenged the win by striking out Matthew Joyce, the only hitter he faced that day.