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As a "recovering" middle school teacher with a unique outlook on life, I stopped active teaching in 2010 and moved into another career path... writing! Here goes! In addition, I am a travel buff, forever baseball addict, movie fan, music fan, foodie extraordinaire, NCIS devotee, gardener, and more.

Just love writing for kids, travel writing and basic journalism. Pretty unusual, since I taught Home Economics! But there's a story here too - a non-fiction one or more...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Off and Running

Rule #37 – Everything is better with friends and family

     The date was Friday, April 10. The place was Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The scene is set for a cold, dreary day with plenty of opportunity for the rain gods to hammer the local area. The weather guessers had the audacity to say it would be 70 degrees and sunny by game time. Temperature was 50 degrees at best. The only thing missing was steam breath from all participants.
     Enter… me – through the newly installed security system at Gate E, to the awaiting ticket scanner.
     Yes, I did say that to the ticket taker. She smiled and yelled, “Welcome back!” And, yes, I felt like I came home.
Home opener - Orioles hosted the Blue Jays
     There’s something about baseball that signals hope. I felt it at Spring Training in Florida. So many people made the pilgrimage south to get away from an uncommonly snowy and cold winter. Just thawing out for that week made me wonder if a perch of my own in the Sunshine State might be in order. Must think hard on this one and consult Taxman.
     Yes, we all were hoping for warmer weather. We are all were hoping for dryer days. We are all hoping arthritis and allergy triggers go away.
     So there I was, back at the Yard, just soaking up the atmosphere. It was time to do some walking and picture taking. I headed to Hall of Fame Statue Park, behind the bullpens. Here, Oriole legends are immortalized for all to see. Guess I need to revisit Cooperstown and soon.
Hall of Fame statue of Cal Ripken, Jr...
...Jim Palmer...
...Frank Robinson...

...Earl Weaver...
...Eddie Murray...
...Brooks Robinson
     It amazed me how many fans believed the weather guessers. So many fans showed up in tee shirts, shorts and flip flops, all in the hope that the 70 degree prediction would come true. It also amazed me how many of those fans were in Toronto blue and white! Well, a 50 degree day may feel like summer to someone from Ontario Canada.
Party to the strains of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"
     While sitting on Eutaw Street, at Boog’s, eating a pit beef sandwich, I had a bird’s eye view of some of the fan outfits. Many fans seemed to confuse Opening Day with Halloween. There were people dressed in bird costumes, Mardi Gras costumes, and one in an orange body stocking, ala Blue Man Group. You can’t beat a ballpark for serious people watching.
American League East champs last year - can they do it again?
      I found the banner celebrating the 2014 American League East championship. I got to see the Orioles Hall of Fame wall. I found many a marker of Oriole home runs that jettisoned out of the park and on to Eutaw Street. Strolling past the Team Store, and the long line to get into Dempsey’s, I really believed that all was becoming right with my world.
Orioles team Hall of Fame wall

Now Atlanta Brave Nick Markakis and his dinger mark on Eutaw St.

One of two dinger marks for Luke Scott

Coach Brady Anderson made his mark on the street...

...and so did a Hall of Fame player named Eddie
     I continued with my therapeutic lap of the ballpark concourse, right passed many a TV reporter. All of the local stations had remotes throughout the Yard, as if Opening Day was an undeclared holiday. Well… it is. I wonder how many people who stepped before the cameras had to explain their “sick day” to their boss on Monday.

Cooperstown crew banners on the main concourse of Oriole Park

Cue Springsteen and his "Glory Days"
      Now to find my seat – it wasn’t my regular seat for the season. I made my way up to Section 368, and found my seat. My poor feet were in a puddle from the last rainstorm. It was windy and the wind had a March-like bite to it. I was grateful for my common sense, which told me to layer up and dress warmly. But, oh, did I miss my regular seat. I missed the people that sit with me. I missed my great view of the game. I missed the ability to warm up inside the Club Level.
Orange carpet ready for the ceremonies
      Pre-game ceremonies began with player introductions on both sides, an In Memoriam segment (where a church friend was listed), and the Gold Glove award presentations to J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones. Then an honor presentation for Hall of Fame pitcher/broadcaster Jim Palmer on the 50th anniversary of his start in baseball – he threw the first pitch to Rick Dempsey. Time to play ball!
Player introductions for both teams
Jim Palmer throws the first pitch to Rick Dempsey - ah, the days of old...
Local children help the Oriole Bird bring this year's squad down the carpet
And here they come, our 2015 Baltimore Orioles

J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones receiving their Gold Glove awards for 2014
     I got a chance to catch up with my regular seat mates on Sunday, April 12. Now that was a homecoming. We got a chance to compare winter notes. I met the little guy who was born over the winter. I looked around and saw familiar faces all over. My regular usher was back too. Normal has returned to my life.
     Oh, and the Orioles lost both games. They lost a Sunday game. Like I said, normal is back. My status as a “cooler” is still in tact. But at this writing, my orange Birds are playing 500 ball. And it’s still early in the season. This weekend was proof that anything can happen in baseball. That’s why they play the game. Another day, another team, another hero, and another outcome. Or a trip to the minors... no job is safe, no lead is safe for Buck's boys.

Love Buck Showalter's revolving door policy - play well or back to the minors till you get it right.
     It’s only the beginning. Yes, here’s to baseball – and normal!

All photos are the property of Marge McGugan. No reuse without permission.
"Lucy" clip via YouTube.com is public domain

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