Orioles' supporters can go home again Escape: A chill descends on Cleveland as the Birds and their fans fly south, eager to fly even farther south.

October 15, 1997

A cold front came through Cleveland yesterday, and it was time to go home.

The locals were feeling none too warmly toward we visiting Orioles fans anyway. Our boys deprived them of a pennant-winning celebration at home Monday night, and now they would have to watch the rest of the action from afar.

To which The Fan can only say: Get over it!

The Fan couldn't get home fast enough. She stopped at the Chesapeake Bagel Bakery in downtown Cleveland yesterday morning, certain they'd welcome a homey.

"Go Tribe!" said the sign in front of the bagel schmearer. "Free bagel for anyone wearing Indians memorabilia! Three free bagels for anyone with a ticket stub from any game this season!"

Given that no one in Cleveland wears anything but Indians attire -- a Cleveland friend of The Fan even spotted Chief Wahoo earrings at High Holy Days services Saturday afternoon -- how does this place stay in business? Still, if they were doing all that for mere Indians fans, imagine what an Orioles fan would rate? The Fan put on her O's hat and foam finger, waved her Orioles flag and ordered a bagel, juice and coffee.

"That will be $5.13," the cashier said dourly, "and we'll finish you off Wednesday."

On the way to the airport, talk radio was equally disdaining. "I have respect for any team that wants to die at home," one caller sneered.

After ditching her rental car, The Fan found the gate already packed with homebound Baltimoreans -- WBAL-TV's Jayne Miller and other media, Ripken rep Ira Rainess -- and a sprinkling of Indians fans. One London-bound group was hoping to spend a five-hour layover in Baltimore annoying O's fans by walking around in their full Clevelands, another was on a business trip but managed to get tickets to this afternoon's game.

(The term "business travel" certainly was stretched this week in both cities. The Fan met O's fans Heather McLaughlin and Charlie Cichon at Jacobs Field Monday night; they left Baltimore early for a conference that began today in Cleveland and were already trying to figure out how to slip out early to watch Game 6 on TV at 4: 15 p.m. "He has to introduce the 4 o'clock speakers," she said. "Maybe I can just introduce them and leave," he said.)

Finally it was time to board. "Welcome to Flight 1740 to Baltimore. Sorry, but go Tribe!" the woman at the Southwest Airlines counter announced.

Somehow, these misinformed people managed to get the plane off the ground and into Baltimore. Back home, The Fan was cheered to see her neighbor Steve had put up a big orange sign on his home: "LET'S GO O'S!"

The Fan was just grateful she didn't have to drive home. She was worried about the six guys in the van who had left Baltimore Monday for the last game in Cleveland, then turned around right after the game and headed back so they could get to work on Tuesday.

"It was fun," Michael Hess, chef at Roma's restaurant in Essex, told her at the game. "On the way down, we watched a tape of the '83 Series on the VCR to cheer ourselves up."

The Fan called Michael yesterday afternoon and learned they had made it back safely. Hess, his father and various relatives and co-workers pulled into town around 7 a.m., and by noon, he was picking up supplies and back in the restaurant kitchen for a shift that runs until midnight.

"We got a late start, we stayed at the stadium and waited for the Orioles to come out in their bus," a sleepy-sounding Hess said. "We thought they might stop or something, but they didn't. They all waved, though."

It was worth it, he said. And he's feeling confident now that the O's are home again. "My father's already making plans for us to go to Fort Lauderdale," Hess said, "when we play the Marlins."

Hess noted that he has gone to the first and fifth ALCS games, and those are the ones the Orioles won. Quick -- someone give this guy a ticket to today's game!

Pub Date: 10/15/97

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