I do everything in my power to not leave a game early. Very occasionally, I have to leave a Seattle Mariners game early if a weeknight game runs long. If I miss the right ferry, I get home at 3:00 am, which sucks. I generally try to avoid this by doing weekend or day games though.
Why? Because on May 17, 1996, my Dad taught me a valuable lesson. We were there as a birthday present for me and my brother (we share the same birthday). I had turned 15, my brother 11. Our birthday was actually earlier but the O's were on the road (I think!) and we wanted to see them play the Mariners anyway. Seattle had a great team back then and were a yearly menace to the Orioles.
The seven us piled in the minivan and went to OPACY. The game was a slug fest. The Orioles jumped on Seattle starter Bob Wolcott early chasing him out of the game by the third inning. Orioles starter Jimmy Haynes gave 5 innings of 2-run ball but the bullpen faltered. In fact, neither bullpen was good that night. The game started the 6th with the O's up 6-2 and by the bottom of the 9th, the Orioles were down 13-10 culminating with Alan Mills blowing his first save of the year by giving up 4 runs. The O's would have won 10-9 had that not happened.
Now, 15 year old me only remembers sitting there watching these teams trade runs after runs and remembering the dread of the 9th inning. It was crushing. My brother was done. My sister was done. My Mom was done. My two youngest sisters were asleep. I was done. But, my Dad was not done. He understood the power of Orioles Magic much better than I did.
My two younger sisters being asleep was key. The game was a slug fest and those games tend to run long. It was almost midnight. I looked at my Dad and asked, "Why aren't we trying to leave and beat the traffic? It's going to take forever to get home." My Dad looked at me and said, "Because your sisters are asleep and you never know what's going to happen."
In comes Nasty Boy Norm Charlton. Game over, man. Game Over! I don't remember the details but suddenly with two outs left in the game, Chris Hoiles was up with the bases loaded. A lot of people were still there and we were getting pretty excited. Full count, last pitch of the game incoming, and the Orioles still probably aren't going to win. Until all of the sudden, they did. Chris Hoiles launched that final pitch beyond left center field and with that Ultimate Grand Slam, the Orioles won the game!
On the way home, my Dad was driving and everyone else but me was asleep. He caught my eye in the rearview mirror and whispered, "See, you never know what's going to happen."