In searching for information for my latest Camden Chat post “Rookie of the Year in Minnesota, burnt to a crisp in Baltimore,” I came across this photo of Marty Cordova and Jay Gibbons. It comes, presumably, from a past Baltimore Baseball Cruise.
Cordova was a regular on the Orioles Cruise, including the January 2004 voyage, during which Sidney Ponson agreed to a three-year, $22.5 million extension with the Birds.
From the Jan. 15, 2004 Baltimore Sun:
Ponson agreed to the deal on a cruise ship off the coast of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. He has been making his annual guest appearance on the “Orioles Cruise,” with Hall of Fame first baseman Eddie Murray, longtime bench coach Elrod Hendricks, and outfielders Jay Gibbons and Marty Cordova.
But the good times on past cruises clearly extended beyond just contract signings.
Carolyn Spencer of The Washington Post wrote about the Orioles cruise back in 1999. She talked with a cruise organizer who described the process of selecting players for the journey.
He looks for athletes with star power and name recognition. Veterans who can tell colorful stories at dinner are valued. Those who have the ‘it’ quality–a mix of showmanship, sense of fun and sociability, regardless of stature (or lack thereof)–are always welcome.
Then she provided a rundown on popular players and their antics.
Players who have been big hits on the Baltimore Baseball Cruise over the past 13 years include Brady Anderson, Chris Hoiles, Billy Ripken, Arthur Rhodes, Brooks Robinson, Mike Devereaux and Earl Weaver. Former first baseman Sam Horn achieved legendary status one year when he strutted on stage during a passenger talent show clad only in a towel.
Anderson, who has taken three Orioles cruises, is responsible for attracting a lot of the younger (i.e., under 50) cruisers; says Nigro, he “attracted a lot of women those years.” What a bummer, then, for the group’s female contingent that on one trip, Anderson had a shipboard romance with a cruise staffer, according to cruise organizers.
Memorable for quite another reason was John Lowenstein, a one-time Orioles outfielder turned broadcaster, who on embarkation decided he hated his cabin and bagged the cruise entirely. He wasn’t asked back.
And here’s a bit about Spencer’s own experience.
Lee May and his wife, Terry, turned me on to the best place to buy saffron in Grenada; Eddie Murray slammed a spike my way during a volleyball tournament in Aruba; Fred Manfra, a news junkie, spent a lot of time in the ship’s business center surfing the Internet for the latest developments in sports trades (and regular Baltimore weather reports).
Read that again: “Eddie Murray slammed a spike my way during a volleyball tournament in Aruba.”
Being able to share that story would alone make it worth the cost of the cruise.