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Has it really been 29 years hence?
Friday, June 13, 2008
by Timothy Tilghman
Friday the Thirteenth was indeed lucky for the Baltimore Orioles. The birds defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in Oriole Park at Camden Yards stadium on June 13, 2008. This was the first match-up on the ball field for the two teams since the 1979 Major League Baseball World Series.
The Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates had faced off each other previously in the 1971 World Series. The Pirates defeated the Orioles to secure the 1971 World Series championship. After winning three ballgames during the 1979 series, the Orioles would go on to lose to the title to the Pirates.
Who knew the Pittsburgh Pirates were a popular draw? Street tickets were difficult to score. Nobody was selling tickets in the No Scalp Zone. Even after game time, there were still long lines of ball fans standing in the queue to purchase seats at the box office windows that reached back to the curb outside the stadium.
The Pirates had been leading 6 to 1, but the O's battled back to secure a 9 to 6 victory on their home field. The evening weather was almost perfect. Fireworks had been advertised as an after-the-ballgame bonus for families to bring their children. Whatever motivated baseball fans to turn out, Oriole Park was close to a sell out with only spotty seat patches visible in the stands.
Pre-game festivities welcomed baseball players from the 1979 Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tilghman Strudwick from Roland Park recalled that 1979 Orioles scored several dramatic wins during that season. The Orioles pitching roster was strong. Highlights from the 1979 season and clips from the World Series were shown on the jumbotron.
Til, now 55, had watched the birds from infamous Section 34 in Memorial Stadium where Wild Bill Hagy became noticed as a fan in that era. He remembers there was an early cold snap during the opening game of the World Series. The 1979 Orioles were honored with a Baltimore Parade even though the team lost the championship.
The late Wild Bill Hagy is being inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame on August 9, 2008. Tee Shirt Tuesday on June 17th will celebrate the memory of Wild Bill as that Tee Shirt giveaway. Orioles fans that sat in Section 34 are holding a reunion inside Oriole Park before the ballgame that same evening.
Richard Lunn is a Pittsburgh Pirates season ticket holder. He and his wife drove out from Enon Valley for the ballgame and went on to visit Antietam the next day. He felt Oriole Park was not PNC Park by any stretch of imagination. Lunn was disappointed by the performance of his team when the Pirates blew a 5 run lead, giving up 8 unanswered runs.
© 2008 Timothy Tilghman