I have been traveling to Baltimore, off and on, since the late 1970s. Some of my best memories are from trips to Baltimore and Washington. From 1979 through 1983, I spent a lot of time in the Washington-Baltimore area as a consultant with InterAmerica Research Associates in Rosslyn Virginia. Rosslyn is right across the river from our nation’s capital. During this time, I also had a project with the Army Research Institute, another with Westat Inc., and a third with a group in the North Carolina research triangle. I still have colleagues and friends that date back to this time. One of my favorite times involved a baseball game at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore.
The Orioles began as a baseball club in 1954, when the St. Louis Browns were moved to Baltimore. The Browns had a dismal 54-100 season in 1953, drawing only 3,174 fans to their season finale. Memorial Stadium was the Orioles home until 1992, when Oriole Park at Camden Yards was opened for play. My story goes like this. All-time great player Reggie Jackson starred for several clubs during his career. He played for the Baltimore Orioles for one season, 1976, and did not exactly endear himself to the local fans.
After the 1976, he move on to the New York Yankees where we witness some of his best play. I attended an Orioles/Yankees game after he moved on and it was clear from the player introductions with loud boos for Mr. Jackson that many of the fans could not stand him. The Orioles were a good club and so were the Yankees. Early in the game, a sharply hit ball went to right center field and Reggie Jackson moved as fast as he could to make a play. The ball, the fence, and Reggie suddenly came together simultaneously with Reggie going down in a heap. He appeared to be knocked out. The ball continued to roll around the outfield and the batter continued to advance. When play stopped, Reggie was still lying on the ground and the crowd became much quieter, but not for long. There was a stirring in the crowd, and a muffled, at first, chant that I could not understand at first. “Reggie’s (something)”, “Reggie’s (something)”. Then, the chant grew clearer and louder, “Reggie’s dead,” “Reggie’s dead,” “Reggie’s dead.” With the help of the team trainers and probably a physician, Reggie sat up and moved around a bit. He finally rose to his feet and was escorted off of the field. While the chant “Reggie’s dead” faded, the crowd continued to buzz, not with too many boos, but certainly without many cheers. Those were serious fans.
Most larger cities have a section or neighborhood known as “Little Italy”. Many little Italies have fallen on hard times, with most of their Italian population having moved to the suburbs. Inter-marriage and the passage of time has left some Italians feeling and acting a bit less Italian. The large influx of Italian immigration to the U.S. ended with the passage of national immigration quota legislation in 1921 and 1924. Italians and other southern Europeans were targeted in these acts –some people thought that there were too many Italians in the U.S. and something had to be done about that (please recall that I am one half Italian –my mother’s side with the names Guinta and Ardovino). Anyway, “Little Italy” in Baltimore has fared well. It has a strong restaurant-based economy sprinkled among old brick fronted two-family houses. Signage hangs above several streets announcing the beginning of the neighborhood, and all of the appropriate days of celebration (e.g. Columbus Day) get full treatment. On this trip I ate at a place called Aldos, and of course the food was excellent. In particular, the cannoli that I had for desert was very tasty. It reminded me of my earliest day of cannoli eating in the Bronx.
For this trip, I stayed at a hotel right on the inner harbor. From my tenth floor room, I had a nice view of the inner harbor, Baltimore’s version of downtown urban renewal. A mix of restaurants, one of the best aquariums in the world, old ships available for tour including a WWII submarine and water taxis combine to create a very visitor and resident friendly place to visit. The street-scape is very pedestrian and bike friendly, making the area a gathering point for many.