Recalling The Heroes Of 1989

The 'Why Not?' Orioles

Fans, Players Reminisce On Season Of Unexpected Glory

August 15, 2009|By Mike Klingaman | Mike Klingaman,

Given the choice of attending a bachelor's party or meeting his Orioles hero, Bryan Erdman didn't blink.

"I bailed on the party," Erdman, 28, of Parkville said. Instead, he stood in line Friday night at Camden Yards with several hundred fans to get autographs of four players from the 1989 Orioles, the "Why Not" club that nearly won a pennant.

For an hour before the Orioles game, fans hobnobbed with outfielder Mike Devereaux, catcher Mickey Tettleton and pitchers Dave Schmidt and Dave Johnson, reminisced about that glorious summer and gathered autographs.

Tettleton's presence brought Erdman there.

"He's my all-time favorite. I see him and I relive my childhood," said Erdman, who left with Tettleton's autograph on a box of Froot Loops, the catcher's favorite breakfast cereal.

Mostly, the players signed the usual stuff - baseballs, bats and banners, gloves, shirts and helmets, books, cards and posters.

One fan had Devereaux autograph a picture of Devereaux autographing a picture.

"I bought [the photo] on eBay," said Kevin Stouffer, 26, of Chambersburg, Pa. "I thought it would be a cool thing to do."

One couple came bearing gifts. Joe and Anna Cadden of Arbutus brought several loaves of home-baked sourdough bread for Devereaux, who accepted graciously.

"They used to bake it for me when I played here," the outfielder said. Devereaux sniffed the bread and smiled. "Still warm," he said.

Joe Hilseberg waited 20 minutes to thank Schmidt, the Orioles' Opening Day pitcher in 1989, for some long-ago advice.

"At an Orioles clinic, you taught me how to throw a changeup," said Hilsberg, 33, of Baltimore.

"Did it work?" Schmidt asked.

Hilsberg nodded.

"All right!" Schmidt said.

Some folks left, a bit confused. A number of them asked Schmidt to autograph pictures of a player they erroneously thought was him.

"Nope. Not me," the pitcher said. "See that mustache? I can't grow one."

Meanwhile, Johnson, the pitcher who grew up in Baltimore County, tried to convince a man that they hadn't been high school classmates.

"He kept saying, 'We went to Kenwood together,' " Johnson said. "I said, 'No, I went to Overlea.' "

In one poignant moment, a Hanover, Pa., man placed a figurine in front of Tettleton and asked him to autograph it. The toy was a 20-year-old likeness of the catcher.

"I met you when I was 7," Brooks Edman told Tettleton. "You were my favorite, but I was too nervous to tell you then, when all I had for you to sign was a dirty old ball."

From behind the table where he sat, Tettleton peered up at Edman, 26. Then he signed with a flourish.

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