The weather was more appropriate for a football game, with temperatures dipping into the 40s under an overcast sky.
Even if it was snowing, nothing was going to keep Orioles fans from showing up at Camden Yards on Sunday for the first baseball playoff game in Baltimore since 1997.
After 14 consecutive losing seasons, the Orioles pulled off a stunning reversal by winning 93 games to earn a wild-card berth. Then, after beating the Texas Rangers 5-1 on Friday, Baltimore returned home to host the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
“I want to see the Orioles beat the pants off the Yankees,” said 57-year-old Carol Pounsberry, who was the first in line at Gate A, three hours before the scheduled 6:15 p.m. start.
This is the time of year when the stadium is usually locked shut and the field is blanketed with a tarp. Instead, the fans flocked into the park while the Orioles took batting practice. The Major League Baseball logo with the word “POSTSEASON” was painted on the outside portion of the first- and third-base foul lines.
When the Orioles last played a playoff game at Camden Yards, Baltimore lost a seven-game AL Championship Series to the Indians, 4-2. The series ended with Armando Benitez giving up the winning run in the 11th inning.
Jim Thome, now 42 and a designated hitter for Baltimore, was Cleveland’s first baseman that day.
“I was here in ’97 with my wife when Benitez lost the game and probably the World Series,” said 58-year-old Rick Lynch.
Rockies’ manager resigns
Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy resigned Sunday, stepping down after the team set a franchise record for losses. Colorado finished last in the National League West this year going 64-98.
Tracy was promoted from bench coach to manager in May 2009. He was voted the NL Manager of the Year that season after guiding Colorado into the playoffs. The Rockies went 294-308 under Tracy.
“I was surprised,” said Bill Geivett, the team’s director of major-league operations. “I wanted Jim to come back.”
Tracy had said repeatedly over the last several weeks that he wanted to fulfill the final year on his contract in 2013, but he changed his mind after meeting with Geivett for several hours on Friday.