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O's groundskeeper Pat Santarone dies at 79

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From The Baltimore Sun

| Sun reporter

While the Orioles produced some of the best teams in baseball over three decades, beginning in the 1960s, they went unchallenged when it came to their garden.

The tomato plants that grew at old Memorial Stadium, and the competitions between head groundskeeper Pat Santarone and manager Earl Weaver that sprouted along with them, are almost as legendary as any championships that were won. Santarone died unexpectedly Tuesday at his home in Hamilton, Mont. He was 79.

"Pat and I were very close. He was the best man at my wedding," Weaver said. "And he meant a lot to Memorial Stadium. He was just like a part of that park itself."

Santarone, who served as head groundskeeper from 1969 to 1991, died in his sleep of natural causes.

As an Orioles fan of a certain age, I fondly remember Pat and his tomato plants and his relationship with Earl Weaver. I was such an O's geek at age 12 that yes, I knew who the groundskeeper was.
Santarone was Baltimore through and through. And for many O's fans, his passing will serve as another reminder that the good ol' days of Memorial Stadium just aren't coming back. But it was fun growing up during those days.