June 3, 2006
SHOW HIM THROUGH THE GATES, PETER (via Matt Murphy):
From Way Out in Right Field: Yankees Fan Who Beat O's in Stands Could Join Them in Dugout (Dave Sheinin, 6/02/06, Washington Post)
This is a story about fate, a story about a curse -- if you care to believe in such things. It is a story about coming to grips with them, and maybe, just maybe, reversing them. It is a story about a 12-year-old boy in a black T-shirt who is now a polished 22-year-old man with a marketable talent. And it is a story about a beleaguered baseball team that may be preparing to take a wild stab at manipulating fate by confronting it head-on.
Jeffrey Maier, a future Baltimore Oriole? Oh, dear heaven. The blood of Orioles fandom boils at the very thought of the name, let alone the thought of such a traitorous alliance.
The story begins on Oct. 9, 1996, when Maier, then 12 years old and a rabid New York Yankees fan, reached over the wall at Yankee Stadium and altered the course of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, as well as the fates -- if you care to believe in such things -- of two franchises.
And the story ends, at least for now, with a phone call Orioles owner Peter Angelos received a few days ago. You'll never guess, the caller said, who is a pretty good college baseball player now, the all-time hits leader at Wesleyan (Conn.) University, an outfielder-third baseman with a decent chance of being drafted during next week's Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Jeffrey Maier. Yes, that Jeffrey Maier.
"You're kidding," Angelos said.
There was a long pause, and one could imagine Angelos considering all that had transpired for -- but mostly, to -- the Orioles since the moment the young boy reached out with his glove.
For nearly 13 years now, Angelos has presided over a once-proud franchise whose fortunes never seemed to recover from that October night in the Bronx. The Orioles lost the game -- thanks to what still stands as one of the worst umpiring calls in history; while the play was ruled a home run, tying the game, replays showed Maier clearly interfered with the ball -- and lost the series. They returned to the playoffs in 1997, lost again, and since then have endured eight consecutive losing seasons, the longest such stretch in franchise history.
The caller expected Angelos to react to the news of Maier's collegiate exploits and professional aspirations with disdain, perhaps with a string of profanities.
Instead, he said this: "To forgive is divine."
No one ever questions that God is a baseball fan. Posted by Orrin Judd at June 3, 2006 8:53 AM