The 1988 season started with a historically bad 1-23 record for the Baltimore Orioles, and the team was set to return home to play the Texas Rangers.
Even with the worst start to a season in modern history, 50,402 fans packed Memorial Stadium to support the Orioles on May 2.
Cal Ripken Jr. reminisced about that night for a number of reasons in a Twitter video posted Saturday, the 32nd anniversary of that date. Not only were the Orioles welcomed with a sellout crowd, but Ripken also hit a homerun and received a kiss from Morganna, the notorious "Kissing Bandit" that caught the sports world by storm.
On this date 32 years ago, the @Orioles returned home after a 1-23 start to the season to a crowd of more than 50,000 at Memorial Stadium. Cal looks back at Fantastic Fans Night & when he met Morganna the Kissing Bandit. - CRJ, Inc. #2131Memories pic.twitter.com/rKCGf8R0Xd— Cal Ripken, Jr. (@CalRipkenJr) May 2, 2020
That year was especially odd for Ripken as he saw the Orioles fire his father as their manager after an 0-6 start to the season. Baltimore replaced the elder Ripken with Frank Robinson, a former Oriole himself.
But the managerial change didn't trigger a difference in results. Robinson was at the helm as the Orioles lost their next 15 games to fall to a woeful 0-21 on the season.
Finally, on the 10th game of a 12-game road trip, Baltimore etched its first mark in the win column with a 9-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Baltimore dropped the next two games to fall 15.5 games back of the division lead as the calendar turned to May and the team returned home.
"Basically, the season feels like it's over at that point. You've started way behind," Ripken said in the video. "But our fans were so great that they came out in 50,000 strong."
Ripken laced a home run in that game, and the Orioles won their second game of the season with a 9-4 win over the Rangers in front of the Memorial Stadium crowd.
Among the sellout crowd was Morganna, otherwise known as "Kissing Bandit." And she made the night memorable for yet another reason. From 1970 to 1990, Morganna Roberts crashed sporting events to kiss athletes. Her targets included Johnny Bench, George Brett and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among a host of others.
On that night, she had her sights set on Ripken.
"The 'Kissing Bandit' came out of the stands that time while I was at home plate, and I was her target," Ripken said. "My first instinct was to run. And I felt that I'd be embarrassed if I ran around and had her chase me around, so I just stayed at home plate. She came up and kissed me, and then ran back off the field."
It was an all-around memorable night for those 1988 Orioles during an otherwise dreadful 54-101 season.
"So the 'Kissing Bandit,' a home run and our second win of the season were highlights for that date," Ripken said.
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