clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The last time the Orioles clinched the AL East

It's been a while. Join us for our trip back in the time machine to a world where the Orioles clinched their wire-to-wire division title.

Rob Carr

The Orioles clinched the AL East on September 24, 1997.  The team rattled off a 9-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays behind a sixth-inning rally by B.J. Surhoff, Brady Anderson and Roberto Alomar, capped off with a seventh inning Rafael Palmeiro home run.  The requisite celebration was held by team and fans alike, with none any the wiser that it wouldn't happen again for 16 years.

Your loyal Camden Chat correspondent was 15 years old on that fateful day, kicking off his sophomore year of high school, less and less interested in baseball, and unaware that his interest would return in the midst of a horrendous dry spell for the franchise.  I can't believe that I'm 32 and I haven't had a division-winning ballclub to root for in my adult life.

So it's been a while.  I started to wonder just what the rest of the world was looking like when the Orioles clinched that last division title.  Get ready for a walk down memory lane.

  • Camden Chat didn't exist yet.  Most of the team's games were on Home Team Sports, and if you didn't have it, you waited to watch the news or read the next day's paper to find out who won.  Or maybe you could dial in to America Online and find some box scores there.  I swear, kids, it really happened this way.
  • The #1 song in America was "Honey" by Mariah Carey. (Oh my god, 1997, you actually had Eddie Griffin chasing Mariah Carey on a jet ski).
  • Bill Clinton was President.  Not only was Bill Clinton President, but we had no idea who Monica Lewinsky was.
  • The top movie in the previous weekend's U.S. box office was In & Out starring Kevin Kline.
  • The Simpsons had just kicked off its ninth season, and passed The Flintstones as the longest-running animated show of all time, in a run that obviously couldn't last much longer.  A little cable show called South Park had just premiered a month before on Comedy Central, clearly doomed to be nothing but a short-lived novelty about cussing elementary schoolers.
  • The #1 album in America was Ghetto D by Master P.  This one threw me off because I had no recollection of Master P actually having that kind of cachet, ever.
  • The top-rated TV shows in America were ER and Seinfeld.
  • Goldeneye 007 had been out for less than a month on Nintendo 64, so none of us really understood yet that our friend who always wanted to be Oddjob was a no-good cheating bastard.
If this all makes you feel a little old, well, that's the point.  The last Orioles division title would be old enough to drive, if that were a thing.  So whether you remember 1997 vividly, or wish you'd been savoring a winning ballclub a little more, appreciate the 2014 Orioles.  They haven't gone wire-to-wire like that last club, but they've been pretty damn good.  Take it in when they get that magic number down to zero.  Then hope it won't be quite as long until next time.