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Faith of longtime fans rewarded

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Faith of longtime fans rewarded

 Charles Goldberg was an excited little boy. At just the right time, major league baseball was coming to Baltimore, and eight-year-old Charles was going to cheer on his new heroes.

The Orioles had moved to Baltimore and the old St. Louis Browns were now going to be Charles’ team.

“I was eight years old and I went to the parade,” he remembers.

In downtown Baltimore on that April 1954 day, the Orioles arrived by train at Camden Station. Yes, that Camden. Thirty-eight years later, Charles Goldberg was there, watching the first game at the spiffy new ballpark named for the railroad station.

Every year since he watched the parade up Charles Street, Goldberg has watched his Orioles.

He didn’t go to the first Orioles game at Memorial Stadium. He’s not exactly sure when his first game was but remembers going to some games that first season.

He hasn’t stopped.

Growing up, Goldberg went to lots of games with his father, all the World Series, and recalls the joy he felt when the Orioles swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1966 World Series.

He worked for a company that had season tickets for many years, and when it went out of business, he took custody of them. It was 1998. Goldberg felt as if he bought Facebook stock at the top of the market.

Goldberg kept going to games through the lean years though lots of his friends and colleagues wouldn’t. “I couldn’t give away the tickets. People wouldn’t go,” Goldberg said. He has great seats, Section 40 behind home plate.
Lots of Goldberg’s best memories come from Memorial Stadium. He attended the 1958 All-Star Game, when he recalls Vice President Richard Nixon threw out the first ball. Charles was 12.

They played All-Star Games during the day then.

“I went with my mom because my father had to work,” he remembers.

He adored Brooks Robinson, and says his favorite moment of 58 years of Orioles baseball was on Oct. 6, 1991 when his baseball palace, Memorial Stadium closed.

Goldberg was enthralled at the end of the game when Robinson and all his other favorites trotted to their positions, Field of Dreams-style.

“With all those players on field, you saw the people you grew up with,” he said.

Last season was a special one for Goldberg, too. This faithful fan, who still attends a dozen or so games a season, received his justification for his investment.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Goldberg said. “I was delighted. I was amazed. I was gratified they did so well.”

Goldberg has two adult daughters that he took to games growing up. Now, his biggest excitement comes from taking his two grandsons, an 11-year-old and an eight-year old, to games. They really enjoyed last season, and he’s enjoyed his nearly six decades as a fan.

“It’s just a wonderful memory,” he says of his years as a fan.

Fifty-seven year-old Mitch Halbrich of Owings Mills is a relative short-timer. Unlike Goldberg, he has an excuse. He moved to Baltimore from Florida in 1980.

He began by buying cheap tickets in Section 34, then moving down during the second and third innings. He quickly began buying into the season ticket plans of others, and in the early ‘80s, he was hooked.

At his peak, Halbrich would attend 50 or 60 home games a year. His children, now 26, 23 and 20 have come along, but as the losing years piled up, he became disillusioned.

“I’m afraid to give them up,” Halbrich said. “It’s the hardest check I write every year.”

Long critical of team management, Halbrich didn’t want to be left out if the Orioles suddenly got good once again.

Last season, Halbrich was glad he kept his tickets, which are behind the Orioles dugout.

“I feel like I was rewarded. Since ’97, it’s been horrible,” Halbrich said.

The headhunter for accounting and finance professionals is skeptical that the team will do as well next season as it did in 2012.

“I’m nervous that our expectations are too high. We should lower our expectations,” Halbrich said.

While he’s skeptical, he’s a big fan of Buck Showalter, saying that he’s “very encouraged” by his presence, and that he reminds him of Earl Weaver.

“I feel like it’s progress,” he said.  


NOTE:

-Buck Showalter has been named Major League Manager of the Year by the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association. Showalter will receive the award on Jan. 24 at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston.

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

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USA TODAY Sports

Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

The Orioles' Manny Machado is the early leader among American League shortstops in the first results of All-Star voting released by Major League Baseball Tuesday.

Machado holds a lead of 110,131 votes over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor. 

No other Orioles' player is on the list, and Adam Jones isn't listed among the top-15 of outfielders. 

The Astros' Carlos Correa was last year’s starting shortstop for the American League, but is in fourth place with 206,707 votes, trailing the Yankees' Didi Gregorius who has 208,583.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 19.

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton has been activated from the disabled list, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Assuming he's finally healthy enough to resume his role as one of the best closers in the big leagues, the question now is: How long will Britton be with the Orioles?

Britton's contract expires after this season, and Baltimore entered play Monday with the worst record in the major leagues (19-45).

So, as he stood in front of his locker and spoke excitedly about his return to the Orioles, Britton conceded that his stay in Baltimore may not extend beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"I want to pitch well and help the team, regardless of our standing or trade discussions," he said.

Asked if the next few weeks might serve as an audition for other teams, Britton replied, "I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that."

Britton made the 2016 AL All-Star team during a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and compiled a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

He fought forearm and knee injuries last season and had only 15 saves. Then, during the winter, he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout.

"When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues," Britton said. "There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame."

Surgery and an intense rehab program under Orioles trainer Brian Ebel enabled the 30-year-old to return sooner than many anticipated.

"The thought that he's a pitcher for us on June 11, that's remarkable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's checked every box to get ready. I don't know what else you could possibly do."

Although Britton will be pitching for a team that's struggled mightily this season, that won't influence the intensity he will bring to the mound.

"I had some injuries the last few years, so I'm looking forward to turning the page on that and just getting back to pitching well," he said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

To adjust the roster for Britton's return, the Orioles placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow strain and moved outfielder Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL.