• Sep

    9/11- Just another morning until...

         It seemed like just another morning for me. At the time I was a 14-year veteran of the US Army taking a few days off in September so I wouldn’t lose leave. My wife Lorrie had decided to go back to nursing school 14 years after she had put that dream on hold, which was when she decided to marry me, her high school sweetheart.  After I joined the Army in September of 1988, and with our son Michael just a baby, she decided to put her dream on hold until we settled down . . . but in the military, that never seems to come. 


         Years of moving and three more kids further delayed her goals, but now that I had settled into a Washington DC job with the Army, and with the kids all in school full time, she had decided now was the time to go back.


         With Lorrie in class, I had gotten up early to take the kids over to school despite the fact that I really wanted to sleep in during my day off. My oldest son Michael, then 13, had just entered eighth grade in the local middle school, and 10-year-old Mallory had just started sixth grade. Their bus came early so they were off and gone before I woke my two younger sons Eric, 6, and Matt, 5, for school.


         The elementary school was just a few blocks from the house we had rented in Gambrills, Maryland, a middle class neighborhood centrally located between Washington DC, Annapolis, and Baltimore. Since both Lorrie and I had grown up in nearby Pasadena, which lies just south of Baltimore, it seemed like a logical choice to balance my workplace in DC, with being close to family in and around the Baltimore area.


         I walked the boys to school, kissed them goodbye, and made my way back to the house. My biggest decision so far that day was about to occur—whether or not to go back to bed, or jump on the Internet to read the latest news about my beloved Orioles on the website I ran, Orioleshangout.com. Despite the fact that the Orioles were rapidly descending to their fourth straight losing season, I grabbed a bowl of cookie crisp and sat down at the computer desk. That’s when the phone rang.


         “Hello?,” I mushed out with a mouthful of cereal.


         “Oh my God, I’m so glad to hear your voice,” the caller said. The caller was my mother Joan, and although I knew my mother loved me, I certainly wasn’t sure why she was so happy to just hear my voice.


         “OK?” I answered, starting to think my mother had fallen off her rocker. “I’m happy to hear your voice too,” I added, since I wasn’t sure where this was going.


         “I thought you had gone to work in DC, and I was so scared,” my mother replied.


         “Why in the world were you scared that I had gone to work?” I replied uneasily, as I started to believe my mother had finally cracked.


         “You don’t know, do you?”


         “Know what?”


         “Turn on the TV!”


         I grabbed the remote, and pushed the on button. What I saw would change my life forever.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.