“Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.” That’s what it said over the front gate at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. When your team is in a lousy period, the sentiment is more like, “Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch’entrate” (“Abandon all hope, ye who enter”).
Charles Kupfer has written a book about the Orioles, who played in Memorial from the ’50s to the ’90s. That book is Something Magic, and I have written about it today, here. In this book, Kupfer mentions George Will, Thomas Boswell, and other top baseball writers. For my money, Kupfer has now joined them.
As I say at the outset of my piece, his book is obviously for Oriole fans. But it is also for baseball fans — indeed for sports fans — and a Detroit Tiger die-hard like me could relish it. Every club and its community deserves a Kupfer.
You could quote the book all day long, and I of course quote a fair amount in my piece, but I’d like to mention one thing here, which does not appear in my piece: 1969 was an annus horribilis for Baltimore fans, as Kupfer writes. How so? The Baltimore Colts, led by Johnny Unitas, were heavily favored to win the Super Bowl. Later in the year, the Orioles were heavily favored to win the World Series. Both were upset by teams from New York: the Joe Namath–led Jets and the “Amazin’” Mets.
Maybe so, but, by golly, they got there, which looks pretty good to Detroit fans, and others (including Baltimoreans, as it happens).