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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Since that time, the Orioles headed home after the final regular-season game. Without fail. Until now.

Stephanie Brooks was 11 years old in 1997. She arrived Sunday with her fiance, Justin Sucuiletti, who was wearing a Derek Jeter jersey and a Yankees cap.

"My dad was an avid Orioles fan. He grew up in Maryland and he raised me to be an Orioles fan," she said. "I have never seen them in the playoffs, so this is really exciting for me."

Sucuiletti wasn't sure whether the couple could survive the week without an argument.

"It depends on who wins tonight or the next few games," he said. "Whoever advances to the ALCS."

Since 1997, the Yankees have participated in the playoffs every single year except for one. Brooks figured it was about time for the Orioles to show their superiority.

"I think it's really important because the Yankees win so much," she said. "It's really special for us to be here. I would love to have the opportunity to brag over him about it."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter could only hope his team would appreciate the moment, but not be affected by it.

"It's impossible to tell your players to take the emotion out of an at-bat or a pitch or a throw or whatever," he said. "That's why we've tried to do as much as we can, everything the same with some exceptions, with the schedule. We're trying to stay in routine."

Ah, but nothing about this was routine. On a wet, chilly Sunday in October, the Baltimore Ravens' home stadium across the street was empty and Camden Yards was buzzing.

"I'm glad they're back where they should be," Pounsberry said. "I have been waiting 15 years to see this."