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10 things I love about you

July 23, 2002|by AL DITZEL

Talk about moving in different directions.

Major League Baseball has asked its fans to rank the top 10 most memorable moments in its game. Now, its players reportedly have set a tentative strike date.

My feelings on a work stoppage in MLB are known. So, as baseball winds down its final months as a passion for me, I've decided to rank my 10 most memorable moments involving the game.

10. My first home run in Little League. I was the second 11-year-old to homer in my league. It still means a lot to me. I was known as a "heady" ball player to my coaches, making the right plays in the field and coming up with a key hit now and then. But, when I hit that home run, my first year in that league ... well, it let others know that I was a decent hitter, too.

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9. Back in 1982, a co-worker (I won't mention his name because it's silly to mention co-workers names in columns for no reason), said he wanted to make a roadtrip on a Friday. It was late September and the Baltimore Orioles trailed the Milwaukee Brewers by four games in the AL East division with exactly four games left in the season. We decided Memorial Stadium was the place to be. That Friday night, the O's were hosting the Brewers in a doubleheader. Amazing doubleheader it was, as well. Baltimore swept. A rookie third baseman named Cal Ripken Jr. homered. The O's lost the fourth game of the series, allowing Milwaukee to become division champs and, eventually, the AL representative in the World Series.

8. Another doubleheader comes to mind. Some co-workers (again, no names) wanted to catch a twinbill in Philly against the Atlanta Braves. Not a problem, but, because of work, we'd have to get to Game 1 a little late. We were en route to Veterans Stadium when we heard on the radio that the Phillies had scored. We were in our seats as we watched a meek offensive effort by both teams in Game 1. The Phillies won that game. Game 2 was a meek offensive game, as well. Atlanta scored, it was the eighth inning and we gave up. We left the Stadium only to hear on the radio of a great comeback by the Phillies. So, the Phillies swept a doubleheader but we never saw Philadelphia score a run.

8. Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played. I'll remember watching that game on TV and the goosebumps that covered me as Cal made his memorable trot around the stadium.

7. My first game. It was at RFK watching the old Washington Senators host the New York Yankees. It was bat night. A great memory for an 8-year-old. I also remember ruining that bat hitting rocks. Dumb 8-year-old.

6. The Phillies World Championship back in 1980. Easy to remember, Philly's won one World Series in its history. Pitiful, but memorable.

5. Trying to watch on TV a Baltimore Orioles exhibition game back in 1972 only to see a station management announcement telling all that a players strike had cancelled the game.

4. Winning a little league championship. I was 15 and led the league in homer (yes, a weak-hitting league). We went 19-1 in the regular season, but we never saw our names in the paper. Somehow, that didn't matter.

3. Hank Aaron hits No. 715. It was against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Aaron had tied Babe Ruth's record in Cincinnati in the season-opening series. I can remember Al Downing's left-handed delivery and Bill Buckner, the Dodgers' left-fielder, hanging over the Atlanta fence trying to bring the historic homer back into play.

2. Kind of bittersweet. I grew up an Orioles fan but had switched my support to the Phillies when my family moved to New Jersey in 1972. Baltimore beat Philadelphia, 4-1, to win the 1983 World Series. It's no fun rooting against yourself.

1. Actually, this hasn't happened yet. It appears it'll be September 15 later this year when I watch my last baseball game. I hope this memorable moment never happens.

Al Ditzel is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext 7520 or by e-mail at alfredd@herald-mail.com

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