Orioles celebrate 60 years with eye on future
O's legends optimistic about current club's playoff chances this year and beyond
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles honored their past on Friday as the organization was joined by more than 20 former players to celebrate a day-long event that culminated with a postgame laser show and fireworks ceremony.
But, as many of Baltimore's beloved pointed out in celebrating the 60th anniversary, there is just as much excitement about the future. The first-place Orioles put on their own impressive on-field show, clobbering the defending NL champion Cardinals with a 12-2 series-opening rout. The win, which featured a season-high six home runs, epitomized the total team effort that has the Orioles currently sporting a 5 game lead and conjuring up images of the organization's storied past.
"The way we looked at each other, we felt about each other, no one was better or bigger than anyone else. We were all equal. That was the way we went about it," Hall of Famer Frank Robinson said of his six years as an Oriole. "And Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter deserve a lot of credit for bringing that feeling back.
"Here with this organization now, you're welcome. And the players are happy to see you and talk to you. The feeling is back here."
Robinson was joined at the podium with legendary Gold Glover Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray, who are also both Hall of Famers, and the sentiment was the same: these Orioles are something to be proud of.
"It's tough to win and I've seen the caliber of players on all the other teams, no reason we can't win this division," Brooks said. "After that, it's a little pot luck that's all. You got to play well, you are going to face better pitching. But the teams I see in the AL East now, the Orioles should win it. That's the way I see it."
Murray, who catches Orioles games as much as possible from his California home, believes the offense can be even better and hailed the team's ability to pitch well and win the close games. Baltimore hasn't lost consecutive games since late June and has been a consistent force, something that Murray epitomized over his career.
"Believe me, [the turnaround] is a relief," said Al Bumbry, who lives in Baltimore and is active in community events. "During those lean years it was difficult going out to the public and talking and speaking and trying to explain why the Orioles were in the state they were in. The last couple years it's been very enjoyable to go to the public and speak because it's easy to see what they are doing and obviously it makes my PRing for the Orioles much easier."
Added B.J. Surhoff: "I love it. I have been waiting for it. As you guys know, I live here, I've been here since I came here. … Rightfully so, the Ravens kind of dominate everything, all I saw was purple. But every time you turn on the game [now] I'm amazed by how much orange and black [you see]. When I drive down the street or go to a store and you hear people talking about it. The excitement is back and to me, I find great joy in that."
The club held a special pregame ceremony to honor long-time season plan holders who have been with the Orioles since the inaugural season in 1954. They also recognized the Oriole Advocates organization for hosting the sold-out 60th Anniversary luncheon, which was attended by 20 players. For their game, the Orioles wore 1954 replica throwback uniforms that will be autographed and auctioned off at www.orioles.com/auction to raise funds for the Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation.
The celebration was capped with a postgame show, which featured videos on the warehouse and the orange carpet to introduce some of the organization's most legendary figures, including Hall of Famers Cal Ripken, Jr. and Jim Palmer who were not on hand for the afternoon events.
"This is a special night for us, the organization. It's something … I've seen what they are doing and it's special for us," Showalter said. "I know the players are excited about it.
"I think what hits you is how much [the former Orioles] follow us. I think that's really cool. They live and die with [the Orioles]. It was such a great time for baseball in Baltimore and how much they meant to the city and there's such a sincerity about the fans and their memory. Whether you were a kid at the time and the things you associate with those teams and those players. And then when you meet them and are around them and their personalities don't let you down."