D.C. Sports Bog caught up with Jon Miller at Thursday’s Giants – Nats game and wrote a fantastic piece that allowed Miller to reminisce about memorable games that he has called and his various meetings with Presidents Reagan, Carter, and Bush (both).
Miller’s choice for his most memorable game comes as something of a surprise given his personal announcing history and belongs in a commercial or, better yet, a video history of the Birds.
“I mean, I’m sure I’ve done lots of memorable games, World Series, Cal, all kinds of stuff,” he said at Nationals Park yesterday afternoon. “But the one I’ll never forget…The Orioles came home from the road trip 1-23 [in May of 1988]. And it was a Monday night with Texas in town. Jay Tibbs was the pitcher. And they had 50,000 at Memorial Stadium.
“When the team’s bad, much less historically bad, the response in your home town is basically indifference. Nobody shows up. Crowds are small, they’re quiet. But the crowd that night not only was huge; it was like the World Series.
“Oddibe McDowell led off and took a called strike, and it’s ‘Whoooooaaaaaaah!’ You know, then he popped one up. ‘He pops it up, Whooooooaaaaaah!!!!’ You know, ‘Cal’s under it and he’s got it, Whooaaaaaaaaah!!!!!’ It was like Game 7 of the World Series. It was unbelievable.
“Somebody called him and said I’m a Baltimorean and I feel bad, I still love the Orioles, and I feel bad that people are making fun of them, and I’m sure they all feel real down about it. I’d like to be able to tell them that I’m really behind them and I still love them. You know, that I still root for them. And so other people started calling in and saying the same thing, so finally he had the idea, why don’t we all come out to the ballpark when they get back and tell em that. I mean, you fans are fantastic. And he ended up calling it something like Fantastic Fans night.
“And then before the game they made the announcement that they had struck a deal, signed a contract for what became Camden yards, and that got everyone excited. You know, Edward Bennett Williams and I guess [Gov. William Donald] Schaefer made the announcement jointly on the field before the game, and people went nuts over that. Signed a new -year contract or whatever it was, ‘to stay here for now and far into the future,’ blah blah blah. ‘Whoooooaaaaaa!!!!!’ It was an unforgettable night.”
And a story I was not familiar with. The stories at the time agreed with Miller’s account; that this was one of the most remarkable days in franchise history. The players, too; “Pretty damn impressive, isn’t it?” second baseman Bill Ripken told Richard Justice after the game. “We were 1-23 going into tonight, and we had 50,000 people. I could have never imagined it.”