by Matthew Taylor
The Birds celebrated Wild Bill Hagy Night at the Yard in fitting fashion, working some more of that Orioles Magic of old to beat the Astros, 6-5.
The G-“O” Down Fighting O’s continue to be a fun bunch to watch, which makes baseball’s trade deadline loom even larger for the die hards. We Oriole fans may have to take our medicine in July as the front office breaks up the band and – reluctantly, but rightfully – keeps an eye on the future of the franchise. It’s hard to do when the present is so much fun.
After last night’s game we know the following:
1. Dave Trembley still doesn’t like blogs,
2. The team that many picked to lose 100 games (Roar from 34 believed the “hype”) would have to finish out the season 27-66, a .290 winning percentage, for that to happen.
Here’s the rundown of Wild Bill-related game stories:
In an interesting coincidence, two groups of summer travelers visited Camden Yards for Tuesday’s game. Ztrip 2008 and Baseball Stadium Tour 2008 offer their thoughts about visiting Charm City to catch a baseball game.
-The hometown blogs have also weighed in:
The spirit of ‘Will” Bill Hagy stayed alive last night as the Orioles pulled yet another come-from-behind win last night as they beat the Houston Astronauts (ok, the Astros), 6-5. The nail for the coffin for Houston came in the 8th inning, as Melvin Mora came through in the clutch — with two outs, nevertheless — hitting a double in the gap that would bring the Orioles back from a 5-4 deficit.
Wow. What more can you say about this team? How is it possible for one team to pull off so many thrilling late-inning comebacks? And how fitting that this one happened on Wild Bill Hagy T-shirt night, a man who embodied Orioles Magic. Melvin Mora was the hero this time around with his two-out, two-run double off the Astros’ closer in the eighth inning to turn the tables. Kudos also to George Sherrill, who bounced back from his rough Pirates series to seal the deal with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Tonight was Wild Bill Hagy night at Camden Yards. There was only one appropriate way to honor him besides giving away t-shirts and that was by finishing the game with a come from behind win. If Jones had surrendered his number 10 jersey to Terry Crowley, and Crowley had driven in several RBIs, it couldn’t have been more reminiscent of those days of magic with Wild Bill leading us. What’s even better than the magic of the seventies is that this team, this year, is just as much fun to watch as they have ever been on the heels of one of their worst years ever (their worst year, surely?).
-And the rest:
Meanwhile, before the game, it was Wild Bill Hagy night in Baltimore.
Wild Bill Hagy is a Baltimore legend.
“I just loved going to the games when I was a little kid and he’d be up in section 34 getting the crowd riled up,” said Eric Kearney.
“People on the other side of the stadium would be looking up, waiting for Wild Bill to start leading those cheers. It was just fantastic,” said Bob Brandenburger.
The people who were there with him in the 1970s and 80s came together on what would have been his 69th birthday. They remembered those great games and great memories.
Wild Bill fans chose 312 to sit in to honor their friend because section 34 in Camden Yards is nowhere near here. In Memorial Stadium, this is the view they were used to.
His closest friends knew what the biggest cheerleader would want.
“We sang Happy Birthday. It was the first time I sang Happy Birthday to a dead man in my life,” said Danny Dimarino.
There was a saved seat, his hat and a stadium of fans showing their Orioles pride, just like in the good old days.
“By the way, if anyone wanted to know where section 34 came from, it was because right below was the men’s room,” Dimarino said.
It wasn’t the heat of a pennant race in Section 34 of Memorial Stadium, but rather a balmy late spring evening in Section 312 of Camden Yards. And the man who contorted his body in support of his beloved Orioles a generation ago had passed on.
But, for one night, the magic of Orioles baseball was back, as a few hundred of Wild Bill Hagy’s closest friends gathered to salute his memory, reminisce about those special times and do the most famous cabdriver-turned-cheerleader proud last night to mark his birthday.
“He was a 150 percent Orioles fan,” said Don Cross, 66, of Owings Mills. “He worked as a cabdriver. He worked his butt off, and he’d come to the stadium and had a good time leading the people on. That’s what made Baltimore.”
Hagy, who would have been 69 yesterday, died Aug. 20, and, in his honor, the Orioles issued bright orange T-shirts to fans with Hagy’s name and 34, the number of the Memorial Stadium section where he led cheers and created an aura not seen in baseball stadiums before or since.
Orioles fans may have been disinterested in Miguel Tejada because they were enjoying “Wild Bill” Hagy night. Wild Bill was famous in the ’70s and early ’80s for leading cheers at Memorial Stadium during some of the Orioles’ best seasons.
Hagy, a cab driver from Dundalk, Md., died last August. He was honored last night at Camden Yards. Hagy would spell out ORIOLES with his body as he led the crowd in a cheer from section 34. He stopped attending Orioles games in 1985 when the team began prohibiting fans from bringing their own beer to games. On the day before the ban, Hagy told the Baltimore Sun, he drank nine or 10 beers and hurled his cooler onto the field in protest.