The 2016 season marks the 50th anniversary of the Baltimore Orioles' first World Series title. There's a 1966 replica jersey promotion at the ballpark on July 24. Surely there will be other efforts to honor the occasion, and we O's fans will hear plenty of references to that championship team throughout the current season. But should we care?
If you've ever read Roar from 34 - and thank you if that's the case - you won't be surprised to know that my answer to whether we should care is yes. My blog incorporates a lot of Orioles history. However, I know it's not a given that fans will be interested in even the recent past, much less the distant past. If your interest isn't there already, I hope that by the end of this season you'll have a greater appreciation for the importance of the 1966 team. I want to help in that regard.
For several years now I've reserved the end of the week for "Flashback Friday" blog posts that share a piece of Orioles history. This season I'll be writing specifically about the 1966 team each Friday. I want to learn more about them, and I hope you will, too.
You can see what I've written so far, and follow along through the 2016 season, on this page. So far I've covered things like the Frank Robinson acquisition, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin betting on the O's, and why Peanuts cartoons made multiple mentions of a former Oriole from that '66 team. It's already been a fun project already and the regular season isn't even underway yet.
Just two seasons ago Buck Showalter assigned O's supplemental draft pick Josh Hart to write a paper about Frank Robinson after the young outfielder didn't know who Robinson was. It was another indication of how it's not a given that the team's past successes matter to current players or fans.
I appreciate something Showalter said after the research paper assignment made national headlines. The O's skipper talked about the difference between being a prisoner of the past and respecting tradition. The latter is preferred.
Said Showalter: "You never confuse change with a lack of respect for tradition, so it's always a balancing act to not live in the past but also be respectful and realize there's some people that live and die with everything you do."
There are two primary forms of history when it comes to our favorite sports teams: our personal histories and the team's collective history. If you're lucky, the two overlap and you're left with memories of victorious moments that you shared with a friend or loved one, someone with whom the team provided a point of connection. Too often the victories come after that person is no longer in your life.
The pull of our personal histories is strong, so much so that our passion endures regardless of the team's performance. I spent enough time reading Camden Chat during the dark days of the Orioles' 14 consecutive losing seasons to know that this team has plenty of fans whose personal histories provide a sense of passion even in very bad times.
My own personal history with the O's carried me through that 14-season dry spell, during which I developed an interest in the team's collective history. I knew this franchise was once among the greatest in the game, and I felt that past deserved to be recognized and honored.
Back to Buck. Here's another thing he said in 2014: "It's important that we realize there were some people that paved the way to have that strong fan base, the people that live and die with everything the Orioles do. There's not a city in America that loves their baseball team more than Baltimore."
In 1966, that wasn't the case. Here's what they wrote in Sports Illustrated about Baltimore baseball fans back then.
"Fascinating as the Orioles will surely be, the question remains: Can the city of Baltimore get aroused enough to come out and watch them? ... Baltimore is an old city (settled in 1729) and a big one (sixth in the U.S. in the 1960 census), but it has a depressingly smalltime gait, maybe too small to appreciate a ball team that could win the pennant."
Those fans indeed came to appreciate the 1966 team. We can, too.
Started in 2006, Roar From 34 is the oldest independently operated blog about the Baltimore Orioles. The site focuses on Humor, History, and Homerism. Roar from 34 is celebrating its 10th anniversary (10 years, 11 seasons) in 2016. I started Roar from 34 with my good friend and fellow Orioles fan Chris Heun in 2006. Roar from 34 became a solo venture about a year or so after it started (Thanks a lot, Chris) and has been my personal labor of love ever since. You can read my work daily on Roarfrom34.com and each Friday on the MASN guest bloggers program. You can also follow me on Twitter @roarfrom34.com.
The stories presented as part of the 2016 Camden Chat Opening Day Marathon are written by members of our community. To add your voice to the site please consider writing a FanPost.