The last stand at Memorial Stadium opened with two bountiful games at the turnstiles, and the Baltimore Orioles are certain to break their all-time attendance record today.
Barring a rain-out, of course.
With a crowd of 47,983 for the first game of a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers, and a turnout of 49,289 yesterday, the Orioles need only 33,155 today to set the club's all-time record. The existing mark is 2,535,208 in the "Why Not?" season of 1989.
The combination of the final year in the stadium, the only major-league game in town and aggressive marketing are responsible for the unprecedented support, general manager Roland Hemond said.
"I'm sure a great deal of it has to do with the nostalgic, sentimental feeling of the fans about the final year here," said Hemond. "But it's also an indication of the excellent fan support that we have anyway.
"In addition, our marketing people have done a fine job and the club has given an all-out effort even though the results haven't been what we'd like.
"The fans have just responded fantastically."
The Orioles have been going nowhere in the standings most of the season and will finish in sixth place. In addition, they have been behind often, trailing by three or more runs by the fourth inning 41 times this year.
But that hasn't stopped their backers from pouring in, giveaway nights or not.
"I'm not really surprised," said Hemond. "There were indications during the off-season this could happen, probably because of some of the off-season activity."
That included the trade for slugger Glenn Davis, which prompted a rash of ticket-buying. Davis was on the disabled list much of the season, but the fans kept coming.
The club went into the final weekend needing 129,825 for the three games and already had exceeded that in ticket sales.
They also have a chance to draw the third-highest total attendance in history for a team with 90-plus losses. That record was set by the 1990 St. Louis Cardinals (2,573,225), who were 70-92.
Orioles' top attendance years
Year..Attendance..Dates.. .. Avg.. Record..Fin.
1989.. 2,535,208.. ..78.. 32,503.. .87-75.. 2nd
1990.. 2,415,189.. ..79.. 30,572.. .76-85.. 5th
1985.. 2,132,387.. ..80.. 26,655.. .83-78.. 4th
1984.. 2,045,784.. ..76.. 26,918.. .85-77.. 5th
1983.. 2,042,071.. ..77.. 26,520.. .98-64.. 1st