The Baltimore Orioles staged Cal Ripken's American League Most Valuable Player news conference under the lights at the unfinished new park, saluting him with champagne glasses filled with a product he endorses, milk.
"I blew it on Channel 2," Ripken said. "I told them I was celebrating with champagne in my kitchen. This will help me restore my image. The milk people will really like this."
Barely a week later, the shortstop supreme received his first Gold Glove. He thus became the second player in history to be his league's MVP, Major League Player of the Year (Associated Press and The Sporting News), All-Star Game MVP and win a Gold Glove in the same season. Maury Wills did it in 1962.
One player who resented finishing runner-up to Ripken for the MVP award was the Detroit Tigers' Cecil Fielder. The Tigers were in contention most of the season; Ripken's Orioles were a dismal sixth. Fielder, also runner-up in 1990, thought he had the numbers -- 44 home runs, 133 RBI.
"I was told last year I didn't win because I wasn't on a winning team," Fielder said. "Now I've lost to somebody who played on a sixth-place team. I'm very upset. It's a shame. It's a joke as far as I'm concerned."
Ripken's prosperous season was the top story in the state, but by no means the only one, to wit:
Walt Williams, Maryland's point guard, main offensive threat and leader, was sidelined with a broken leg. The Bullets' Bernard King, who reconstructed his career after doctors reconstructed his knee, was named to play in the NBA's All-Star Game.
World breast stroke record-holder Mike Barrowman of Potomac became the first three-time winner of the Swimmer of the Year award, Mount St. Mary's Jim Phelan became the 10th man in college basketball history to coach 1,000 games and Glenn Davis became an Oriole.
Orioles groundskeeper Pat Santarone, after decades of manicuring baseball fields, left with a fishing rod for life in Montana's outdoors, and Ricky Diggs arrived from the Air Force Academy staff with a vow to revive Morgan State football.
Middletown High School quarterback Paul Glagola won a $4,000 scholarship as the grand winner at the Scholar-Athlete Awards Dinner.
Jim Palmer, hampered by a cranky 45-year-old hamstring
muscle, retired again after a brief comeback attempt. Palmer left with words of compassion for trainer Richie Bancells: "We just lessened his workload by 50 percent. I'm out of here."
Towson State's basketball team played in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, and again the Tigers threw a scare into one of the nation's top teams. No. 5 Ohio State led by only five points with less than six minutes left before pulling away to a 97-86 victory.
Towson High freshman Anita Nall, 14, broke the American record in the 200-meter breast stroke by 2 1/2 seconds and came within an eyelash of the world mark.
For the Orioles, it was a forgettable final opener at Memorial Stadium, a 9-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox in which Jeff Ballard was beaten by former Stanford teammate Jack McDowell.
The Baltimore Thunder was beaten by the Gait twins, Gary and Paul, and the Detroit Turbos for the Major Indoor Lacrosse League title.
The Blast watched helplessly as it was eliminated from Major Soccer League playoff consideration by Wichita's victory over St. Louis. "It was a nightmare watching that game," the Blast's Billy Ronson said. "It was like watching fate."
The Washington Capitals eliminated the New York Rangers in the NHL playoffs, then were ousted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Skipjacks bowed to the Binghamton Rangers, four games to two, in the first round of the AHL playoffs.
Vyen Do raced home with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning for an 8-7 triumph over Southern of Harwood that broke Annapolis High's five-year, 90-game softball losing streak.
The Bullets' Susan O'Malley, 29, became the first woman to become president of an NBA franchise. Major-league baseball's first black manager, Frank Robinson, lost his third managing job and became an Orioles assistant general manager. He was replaced by John Oates, who hit 14 major-league home runs to Robinson's 586.
In lacrosse, in the space of 13 days, 11th-seeded Towson State upended No. 6 Virginia, No. 3 Princeton and No. 7 Maryland only to lose to No. 1 North Carolina in the NCAA final. Said Towson coach Carl Runk, "Our primary goal was to gain respect. I think we've done that."
Randallstown running back Larry Washington, headed for Maryland, and Western's three-sport star, Tennessee-bound Dana Johnson, were acclaimed The Evening Sun 1991 High School Athletes of the Year at the 25th anniversary awards luncheon. Johnson was cited by Sports Illustrated as one of the five best schoolgirl basketball players in the country.