• Jun

    Why 47,305 happened

    47,305 people…. 98.2% full….


    Those were the numbers last night at Camden Yards as the Orioles played the Pirates in Baltimore for the first time since the 1979 World Series.


    So why the big crowd?


    Really, it was the perfect storm for attendance, but I’m guessing it was mainly because of one thing.


    Was it because the Orioles were celebrating the 1979 season by bringing back Earl Weaver, Doug DeCinces, and Scott McGregor? Probably not. As much as it was great to see some of the classic O’s, the Orioles really didn’t bring all that many of the players back and I’m not sure a pregame “ceremony” was enough to bring out the huge crowd.


    Great Weather? Certainly helped with the walkup crowd, but the Orioles had sold a lot of tickets already for this game.


    The Pirates? Sure, we all want to get even with these guys after losing the 1979 World Series to Willie Stargell and crew, but that was almost 29 years ago which means anyone under the age of 36 probably doesn’t have much of an emotional connection to that loss.


    So what was the number one thing that brought so many Orioles fans out to Camden Yards?


    RETRO 1979 UNIFORMS and more importantly, the cartoon bird hat.


    Without a doubt, I was even excited to see the Orioles don the bright white unis with the classic bright orange Orioles script adorned across the front. The orange and black stripes that accent the uniform and the white panel cartoon bird hat makes this combination one of the best uniforms ever.


    My eleven year old son Matt was even excited and asked me, “Why don’t they wear those uniforms all the time?” He loved the hat so much he went and got my version that was hanging up in the basement next to the Baysox and Keys helmets.


    I think Roy Firestone said it best in one of his online blogs on the Hangout a week or so ago. “It’s the cartoon bird. Please somebody get the message to Angelos. We have never won a single meaningful post season series without the cartoon bird affixed to our hats. This bird on perch logo is the pits. I have another name for it."Sitting duck". The cartoon bird originated in late 1965, was designed for the 1966 season by the same man who drew snap ,crackle, and pop characters for rice crispies.(LOOK IT UP!) The Orioles won the first world title with that logo on their hat. The would go on to 6 world series and would win a total of three of them, with two more that couldve easily been won. It is a cool logo, especially the Orange bill and black(not white panel) hat. It is an irreverent, cocky, and smirking bird. It represented a irreverent, cocky and smirky swaggering team. Of course we need the players..but we can be those guys again. Think Cartoon bird!!!!”


    Now I happen to like the white panel version as well, but I also love and own the black with orange bill and cartoon bird hat.


    With the Orioles reportedly putting Baltimore back on the uniforms next year, it’s the perfect time to ditch the current boring cap and go back to the cartoon bird (as a sidenote, I don't know one person who loves the current hat, not one). At the same time, the Orioles should play at least 6 games a year (one a month) in various retro uniforms. The can call the games ”Retro nights” and they should theme the entire park from the music to the trivia on the huge jumbotron towards that era.


    Dave Trembley made the first step this spring by asking former Orioles to come down to spring training and be instructors.  Now, it’s time for the organization to embrace the former Orioles and start an annual reunion weekend. I’d love to see a pre-game Orioles reunion softball game with players miked so the fans can feel like they are on the field with their former heroes. Autograph sessions and even fanfest like player forums would be great as well.


    If the Orioles want more of these 47, 305 nights, embracing the past is a step in the right direction.

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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.