Top 20 Games of 2014: Game #3

3. Baltimore Orioles vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Friday, August 8, 2014 - 7:05 PM - 12-2)
Box Score

Over the past few seasons, the Orioles organization has done an excellent job meshing the team’s contemporary success with celebrations of the franchise’s storied past.

Prior to the 2014 season, this combination was best displayed on September 6, 2012 at Camden Yards.  On that night, the Orioles unveiled a bronze state for Cal Ripken Jr. in front of a sell-out crowd while also pulling off a dramatic and extremely important wins versus the New York Yankees that moved the Birds into a tie for first place in the AL East.  It was a wonderful game – a near perfect celebration of both the past and present.

On August 8, 2014, however, the Orioles organization might have set in a new high water mark in this area.

The 2014 season marked the 60th anniversary since Major League Baseball returned to Baltimore.  The St. Louis Browns relocated to Baltimore in 1954, with the organization taking on the Orioles moniker to pay tribute to Baltimore’s rich baseball past.  The Baltimore Orioles were a charter member of the American Association upon that league’s founding in 1882.  The Orioles made the move to the National League in 1892 and quickly became the giants of what was at the time the world’s premiere baseball league.  Under the management of Ned Hanlon, the Birds won three consecutive titles between 1894 and 1896.  Baltimore lost its major league franchise at the turn of the century, but the Orioles were soon resurrected as one of the most dominant International League franchises of all time.

In what was almost certainly not a coincidence, the Orioles organization chose to celebrate their diamond anniversary before and after a game versus St. Louis’ National League team, the Cardinals.  The O’s wore throwback 1954 uniforms for the Friday night game and planned an elaborate fireworks & player reunion celebration for the post-game.

For their part, the 2014 Orioles did not wait for the post-game before getting into a celebratory mood.

The O’s began the second inning by manufacturing a run off of Justin Masterson via two singles and a sacrifice bunt.  A walk put two runners on with one out for Manny Machado.  The Orioles’ third baseman bypassed the small ball in favor of a three-run homerun that would have made Earl Weaver proud.  Manny’s blast was just the first of six round trippers on the evening for the home team.  J.J. Hardy added a solo short in the 3rd, followed by a 3-run blast in the 4th.  Adam Jones got into the action in the 5th, while Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty finished off the homerun barrage with a pair of 6th inning shots.

In total, Baltimore’s offense piled up 12 runs through the first six innings of play.  That was more than enough for starter Chris Tillman who kept the Cardinals off the board until a two-run homerun knocked him out of the game with two outs in the seventh.  That would be all for the scoring.  The game ended with the Orioles on the winning end of a 12-2 thumping.  The win was the Orioles’ 66th victory in 115 attempts and moved them to five games ahead of the second place Yankees in the AL East.

After the current O’s finished up their business, it was time to honor the Orioles of the past.

The unforgettable celebration included an excellently produced video, fireworks, music, and laser display that guided fans through many of the great moments of sixty years of Orioles’ baseball.  In addition, over twenty former Oriole players were on-hand for the festivities.  Each of the Oriole greats – including all five living Oriole Hall of Famers – were introduced to the live crowd and seated alongside each of the base lines.  The presentation was capped off with video and musical highlights covering the Orioles 2012 – 2014 renaissance.

With all the former players having been introduced, the 2014 Orioles were brought back onto the playing field.  The current Orioles mixed and mingled with the former Orioles, in what was a perfect end to an evening that blended the past and present of Orioles baseball into one gigantic and truly memorable celebration.