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How ’bout dem O’s, Hon?

Summer happens at the ballpark

Some little girls have tiaras; I had a baseball cap. My parents raised me to believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of Baltimore baseball. I knew the players, their averages and that the Yankees were evil before I could tie my shoes. I also knew that shouting “O!” was perfectly appropriate during the National Anthem.
    So the summer doesn’t truly begin until I have a hotdog in my hand and home plate in my sights. Birdland can be intimidating to the uninitiated, but when it comes to Maryland summer activities, you haven’t lived until you’ve attended an Orioles game.
    20, 5, 22, 4, 8, 33. Those are not lotto numbers, but they have proven lucky to those of us who pack the seats of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. They are the numbers of players who have become legend in Baltimore and in baseball. Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray: Baltimore’s boys of eternal summer have led their teams to American League pennants, World Series Titles and records that have yet to be beaten.
    Even if you can’t name the score of the final game of the 1983 World Series (it was 5–0, Orioles over Phillies), there’s plenty to love about the Orioles. We have one of the most beautiful parks in all of baseball, which combines nostalgic brick buildings with classic Baltimore charm. We also have one of the best mascots in baseball. The bird can be found marching on the roof of the home team dugout during every seventh inning stretch. If you ask him nicely, he may even let you try on his baseball cap.
    It’s a scientific fact that hotdogs taste better when eaten in a ballpark. At an Orioles game, you need to show up hungry, because there’s a huge range of food. Between soft-crab sandwiches, beer-can chicken, crab-dip fries, Boog’s famous pit beef and Dead Rise Beer (flavored with Old Bay), you’ll be praying for extra innings so the feast can continue.
    But the real perk of attending an Orioles game is the community. When the O’s are losing, you’re sitting in a sea of grief counselors. We comfort each other and cheer louder because we know a comeback is just around the corner. If we’re winning, you’ll be high-fived and hugged by strangers sharing the elation. It’s an electric feeling as we stomp in unison, chant and clap. You may not have hit a home run, but you’ll feel like Nelson Cruz as you celebrate with the masses.
    Buy your tickets, peanuts and Cracker Jacks and settle in for nine innings of great baseball with great fans. If you find yourself behind home plate, look for me. I’ll be happy to cheer with anyone — except a Yankee.