i heart baltimore

Originally published April 28, 2015

I wasn’t even a year old when the Baltimore Orioles won their third World Series.

My dad likes to joke that he was born a Baltimore Orioles fan. He’s lying, of course. This is the same man that told me that Diet Mountain Dew belonged in the dairy section of the food pyramid. This is the man that told me that he was 1/3rd of Peter, Paul and Mary. That lie was particularly insidious considering he has a brother named Peter and a sister named Mary. I actually believed he was responsible for “Puff, the Magic Dragon” until I was about 13.

When you catch my father at his most truthful, he’ll explain that, as a young kid from Dubuque, Iowa, he decided to root for the Orioles because they were simply the best team in baseball. Yeah, he was a bandwagon fan. But that doesn’t mean his love for the Birds isn’t real. As a young boy, he flew halfway across the country with a family friend (who happened to a Catholic priest) to watch the Orioles play in the 1970 World Series. They lost that game, but won the series.

No, my dad wasn’t born a Baltimore Orioles fan. But because of him, I was.

I was born in San Jose, California on January 8th, 1983. By the fourth grade, I had moved to Colorado, Michigan, back to California, and finally Virginia. Rooting for the home team was always strange to me as a child. Why would I root for the home team when my home was constantly in flux? But rooting for the Orioles was always a constant.

That’s why moving to Virginia was a big deal. The Orioles were finally the home team! They were only 90 minutes away! For the first decade of my life, I loved the Orioles. But ever since I first visited Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I loved the city of Baltimore.

I’ve never lived in Baltimore. I’ve never even spent the night in Baltimore. But Baltimore is my adopted city. I was there with my dad on Sept. 5, 1995 when Cal Ripken tied Lou Gehrig’s 2,130 consecutive games played streak. Two years ago, I held back tears as I took my sons to their first baseball game. Last year, I celebrated in the city all night when the Orioles clinched their first American League East title in over a decade. These are some of the best moments of my life.

I am deeply in love with the city of Baltimore. I visit Baltimore like most people visit Disney World. I call Camden Yards the “real happiest place on Earth.” I am in awe every time I walk past M&T Bank Stadium, where my favorite football team — the Baltimore Ravens — play. No food is better than crabs at the Inner Harbor or a Natty Boh at Pickles Pub. When my wife and I got engaged, there was no question where we would take our engagement photos. During our wedding reception, the DJ announced the inning-by-inning score of the O’s game (they won).

I may be an Orioles fan because I was born an Orioles fan, but I’m a Baltimore fan because the city has earned my love.

And that’s why these last few day are breaking my heart.

I will never be able to relate to the people that are so upset, scared, angry and confused that they feel that there is no other way to express themselves but with violence. I can’t relate, but I can empathize. I also can feel sorry for the innocent people that are victims of that rage, losing their homes, businesses and livelihood. More importantly, I can lend my support to the people of Baltimore that are demanding the justice that they deserve. And I will never lose sight of the fact that this all started because a young man lost his life way too soon.

I was born an Orioles fan. Today, I am a Baltimore fan. I will always root for this city to win… now more than ever.