'Baltimore ' On Their Chests

April 14, 2009|By CHILDS WALKER

Monday night: The Orioles played their first regular-season game since the 1972 season with "Baltimore" on their road jerseys.

The announcement: After years of clamoring by fans, the Orioles announced in November that they would put "Baltimore" back on the team's road jerseys. They unveiled the new jerseys at the Gallery at Harborplace, using Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Jeremy Guthrie and other players as models.

Why now?: After 11 straight losing seasons, the club needed a public relations boost, and with the Nationals in Washington, the Orioles have less claim to a regional fan base. The road jerseys had said "Orioles" since 1973, a year after the Senators left Washington to become the Texas Rangers. An Orioles spokesman said the change was simply a way to give fans something they wanted.

Demand: Major League Baseball could not provide hard data, but a representative said demand for Baltimore road jerseys nearly doubled from the 2008 offseason to the 2009 offseason. The jersey was popular enough that orders were backed up several weeks for much of the winter.

The reaction: Fans and players greeted the new jerseys with near-unanimous approval. Former Oriole Boog Powell said he was thrilled to see the return of a jersey he wore for four pennant winners. On Opening Day, a pre-game mention of the road jerseys received a loud ovation, and many fans noted the "Baltimore" gear as a reason to be excited about the team.

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