Saturday, April 21, 2012

Still Flying High . . . .

I can see I'm going to be spending most of the summer at Dempsey's, reliving my youth and memories of Memorial Stadium.  Of course, many of those memories came with us to Camden Yards, and here on Dempsey's wall is one of them.

I was actually looking for Gus Triandos when I found him.  Surely Hoyt Wilhelm could not be walled without Gus Triandos (and The Thing, although I couldn't find any pictures of it.  Note to Rick -- find The Thing.)

But seeing Boog suddenly transported me to Junior High (that's what they called it in those days.)  It was early 60's, Kennedy administration, probably Boog's first or second year with the team.  See, he's still wearing #16 and playing in the outfield.  He didn't become #26 the first baseman until Jim Gentile departed.  And most announcers were still calling him "John."

Boog spent his whole career with the Birds and was a real fan favorite.  Although he was known for his love of deep sea fishing, among his hidden talents was outdoor grilling.  So when Oriole Park in Camden Yards opened, it was a stroke of genius to plop Boog and his signature Open Pit Barbeque on the Grand Promenade that was once Eutaw Street.

Boog provided more than great food and a distinctive concept (which was quickly emulated in other ballparks, as many of the landmark elements of Oriole Park were.)  His smoking grill provided the most reliable weather vane for batters trying to analyze the tricky currents blowing down Eutaw.  Despite having the two impressive Birds on top of the scoreboard that were supposed to perform that function, it seemed that the two couldn't agree which way the wind was blowing.  Smart hitters throughout the league quickly figured that Boog's smoke signals were far more trustworthy.

Of course, the biggest part of the appeal was not the heavenly aroma permeating the park or even the yummy fare, but Boog himself.  From day one, he was a fixture at the tent, where you can still find him perched, ready to talk to fans and pose for pictures. 

Boog is our resident link between the days at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards.  He loves the game.  He loves to talk about the Birds, and he truly enjoys his gig on Eutaw Street.

Occasionally you'll catch him into other things here, like helping to coach in "field days" that some of the O's corporate sponsors for their employees.  For the folks who get to come to Oriole Park for the day, play on the field, and work on their skills with some of the O's legends, it is a real treat. 

Boog seems to enjoy it just as much as they do.  In fact, he seems to enjoy just about everything that has to do with baseball and his beloved O's.

For those of us several stories above Eutaw Street, there is no better harbinger of spring than when he fires up the grill for the season.  The fragrance wafts through an open window and suddenly you realize it is time to play ball again.

No comments:

Post a Comment