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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


March 30, 2011

From Angst to Ohs

Norman M. Covert

If you have surviving Guinness and Harp, hoist a “Black and Tan” for Abner Doubleday, founder of major league baseball. Ah, “baseball!” The word exudes renewed optimism and a line of demarcation from what many consider to have been yet another winter of discontent.

 

Global climate change notwithstanding, our checklist of winter doldrums includes a leisure president, despots and Tomahawk Cruise missiles in the Middle East; our warriors troubled by confused leadership in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya; union rabble rousers and legislators so wrapped in social “justice” issues they ignore fiscal doom on the horizon.

 

Whither the words of William Shakespeare (Richard III) or John Steinbeck, those of all political persuasion are breathing the hopeful mantra, “Baseball, Baseball, Baseball….” Even Thursday’s Opening Day games on both coasts will be bittersweet because our “Ohs” won’t be home until Monday.

 

Mark the calendar if you haven’t already, it’s a date at Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Monday at 3 P.M., Club Level. The Tampa Bay Rays are in town to challenge another “New Look” Orioles team. Old timers are saying Manager Buck Showalter could be the second coming of Earl Weaver because of image and style.

 

Earl Weaver? In one of the winter’s incredible feats of reporting, New York Times columnist Ross Ramsey wrote that “Somewhere in heaven, Earl Weaver and (former Texas governor) Ann Richards are comparing notes.”

 

Great line, however the thing is National Public Radio managed to find Earl in Heaven (Pembroke Pines, FL) and interviewed him in December. Earl is alive and still able to kick the dirt around home plate. Manager Showalter isn’t dead yet, either. He’ll be on the top step of the dugout Monday.

 

Earl, (pronounced Er-E-ul) one of Baltimore’s beloved and storied managers, grumbled at the apparent lack of research by The Times columnist, then chuckled, reprising his well-known comment:

 

“…Two of the places I wouldn’t have minded dying was at Memorial Stadium, where I used to manage for the Orioles, and on the golf course. Now my knees are so bad I can't play golf, and Memorial Stadium is tore (sic) down, so I’m going to have to live forever.”

 

Sportswriters perpetuated the alternate name for Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street as “The World’s Largest Insane Asylum” when the Baltimore Colts played there. The site is now a multi-use area with a senior citizen apartment complex where an airplane crashed into the right field stands in 1976. Fittingly, Orioles’ Superstar Cal Ripken built a youth size diamond at the site of old home plate last year.

 

Much of the razed stadium now resides at the bottom of Chesapeake Bay as a fishing reef.

 

Another loss this year was Ernie Tyler, the umpires' attendant at both Memorial Stadium and Oriole Park from 1960-2010. He died on February 10th. Ernie worked 3,819 consecutive home games until 2007, ending it to be with Ripken at his Hall of Fame induction in Cooperstown.

 

Baseball, the man said: wooden bats, peanuts, blind umpires, bleacher seats… er, (update) yes, wooden bats still, but aluminum bats? Don’t get me started.

 

I’ll go with the sunflower seeds because of a peanut allergy; those aren’t really bleacher seats at Oriole Park. Actually, though, you get a pretty good view from right center field. Standing at the patio-like overlook isn’t for me. I’ve already bemoaned the coming of Coors in lieu of Natty Boh, but I have it in the “man cave.”

 

Still, Opening Day marks the retirement of my spring training cap. Now we go for the wool cap bearing the intertwined “N” and “Y.” It wouldn’t be a bad idea to be prepared by giving my Roger Maris No. 9 batting jersey a quick wash. There are no politics here to confuse my dual allegiance and no tele-prompter to help me express why we went to war at…Camden Yards…”OH, say can you see…”

 

“… (crrackkk) a long drive, deep to right, it’s out ‘o here!”

 



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