Fans pack chilly Camden Yards for playoff return

Associated Press Modified: October 7, 2012 at 8:02 pm •  Published: October 7, 2012
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BALTIMORE (AP) — Orioles fans waited 15 years to see a playoff game at Camden Yards, so enduring a rain delay wasn't all that much of an imposition.

Even if it was snowing, nothing was going to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd for the opening game of the AL division series between Baltimore and the New York Yankees on Sunday night.

"I want to see the Orioles beat the pants off the Yankees," said 57-year-old Carol Pounsberry, who was the first in line at Gate A, three hours before the scheduled 6:15 p.m. start.

A steady rain delayed the first pitch for nearly 2 1-2 hours. Those in attendance knew that no matter when the first pitch came, it would be worth the wait.

After 14 straight losing seasons, the Orioles pulled off a stunning reversal by winning 93 games to earn a wild-card berth. Then, after beating Texas 5-1 on Friday, Baltimore returned home to host the hated Yankees in Game 1 of the first-round series.

This is the time of year when the stadium is usually locked shut and the field is blanketed with a tarp. Instead, the fans flocked into the park while the Orioles took batting practice. The Major League Baseball logo with the word "POSTSEASON" was painted on the outside portion of the first- and third-base foul lines.

When the Orioles last played a playoff game at Camden Yards, Baltimore lost a seven-game AL championship series to Cleveland, 4-2. The series ended with Armando Benitez giving up the winning run in the 11th inning.

Jim Thome, now 42 and a designated hitter for Baltimore, was Cleveland's first baseman that day.

"I was here in '97 with my wife when Benitez lost the game and probably the World Series," said 58-year-old Rick Lynch, who was wearing an Orioles hat, a jersey and a coat.