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'60 Years of Orioles Magic' a terrific history


'60 Years of Orioles Magic' a terrific history

Jim Henneman pitched to Al Kaline, cooks a terrific crab cake, and has seen more Orioles games than anyone else.

It’s that last fact that makes him the perfect person to write “60 Years of Orioles Magic,” the club commissioned book that’s now available.

Henneman, who turns 80 on July 10, was 18 when the Orioles came to Baltimore from St. Louis, a journey artfully described in this mammoth book.

The Orioles’ home opener came after the team played two games in Detroit, and players dressed on the train trip. When the train arrived at Camden Station, next to the current ballpark, cars were waiting, and there was a parade up Charles Street to 33rd Street.

Henneman watched the parade, attended the Orioles first home opener, and he’s believed to have missed only one since.

As a youngster, Henneman worked as a clubhouse attendant for the minor league Orioles and then as an usher and press box attendant.

He rose to become the most respected baseball writer in Baltimore, covering the Orioles for both the News American and Sun. And, 61 years after the Orioles came here, he’s still at the ballpark, writing for pressboxonline.com and as the official scorer.

Henneman was an excellent high school player, though obviously Kaline had a slightly more successful major league career.

He celebrates each Orioles home opener by wearing an orange tuxedo, and popularized the use of the reverse lock.

What’s the reverse lock? That’s when a huge underdog pulls off a stunning upset—except it should have been obvious beforehand.

Henneman loves history, and his chapters on the early days of the Orioles are outstanding. He explores the early origins of the team and writes about the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 setting the stage for the birth of modern Baltimore.

The current ballpark, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, is not the first Oriole Park. There were actually five, and when Oriole Park V burned down in July 1944, the International League Orioles moved to Municipal Stadium, less than a mile away.

Municipal Stadium was a precursor to Memorial Stadium, but it was a football stadium, and as Henneman tells us, the left field stands were 260 feet away from home plate. The right and center field stands more than 500 feet away.

Bill Veeck, who owned the St. Louis Browns wanted to move his team to Houston or Los Angeles, but the American League refused to allow the move.

For the 1954 season, the team came to Baltimore. In its early years, Memorial Stadium was a pitcher’s park. The book is packed with dozens of gorgeous photos, and there are several of Memorial Stadium in the early years showing no box seats and hedges instead of an outfield wall. The intimacy of the 33rd Street park didn’t come until later.

Jimmie Dykes was the team’s first manager, but late in 1954, it was revealed that Paul Richards would replace him and also assume general manager duties. After the dismissal was announced, the fired Dykes received a day in his honor.

Henneman does a great job writing about Richards’ building of the ballclub and organization. He pulled off huge trades, and had the second longest tenure of any Orioles manager.

Not only are there great photos, but there are some neat attachments, too. There’s the scorecard from the first game, the team’s certificate of membership from the AL, and a 1955 letter to Richards recommending he sign Brooks Robinson. Fortunately he did.

My favorite photo is of “Mr. Oriole,” a grotesque bird, which briefly served as the team’s first mascot. An attractive young woman is holding the mascot’s hand as they walk in front of the Orioles dugout. Several players are staring and smiling—but not at Mr. Oriole.

Henneman writes about the more well-known events, too. The champions of 1966 and 1970, Jim Palmer, who wrote the book’s introduction, Brooks and Frank Robinson as well as Earl Weaver.

And naturally, there’s lots on Cal Ripken, and the Orioles of today. Henneman includes the scorecard from Ripken’s final game in 2001, which he scored.

The book is $50, and though it may weigh down your coffee table, it’s worth it.

I especially enjoyed the section on the 1991 closing of Memorial Stadium. Henneman grew up nearby and attended Calvert Hall High School.

Old Orioles trotted out on the field without a spoken introduction, like in “Field of Dreams,” and then made a huge circle. It’s hard to believe that 24 years have gone by.

For Henneman, 61 years have gone by, and he’s still hale and hearty, and full of stories.

I will share one of his secrets. To make a great crab cake, you need mustard--not mayonnaise. Here’s to many more years of Henneman’s crab cakes and stories.

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 


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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense


David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."