Posted by: Henry J | September 1, 2010

Saying Goodbye – the World Moves On

I’ve never been a big baseball fan, but we decided to catch the Bluefield Orioles final home games of the season last night. Little did we know that these were to be the Orioles last games ever. They went out with a whimper as they lost a double-header to the Princeton Devil Rays 10-4 and 5-0.

The Orioles played in the Appalachian League, a Rookie League that plays a short season. Most of the players in this league are very young as most of them are rookies dreaming of a major league career. The Orioles played their home games in Bowen Field, opened in 1939. Their 53 year affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles was the longest continuous affiliation by a minor league team with a major league franchise until now.

The Orioles have been a part of Bluefield longer than I have. They started playing in Bluefield in 1958 and Boog Powell played for them in 1959. As a youngster, I watched Boog play for the Baltimore Orioles on television. I don’t remember ever attending a live baseball game as a child, but perhaps I did.

Boog was one of my favorite baseball players. It may have been his unique name, or it may have been his 1970 season. In 1970, he won the American League Most Valuable Player Award and hit home runs in the first two games of the World Series as Baltimore beat the Cincinnati Reds in 5 games. Most likely, it was because he hit 339 home runs in his major league career. I have always admired anyone courageous enough to swing for the fences!

Perhaps the most famous person to play for Bluefield was Calvin Edwin "Cal" Ripken, Jr. Cal played here in 1978. He is famous for holding the record for consecutive major league games played – 2,632 games! Cal is only one year older than I am, so I was able to follow his career closely as it unfolded. His longevity was an inspiration to me. He retired from baseball in 2001.

So – another part of Bluefield, the small city I love so much, dies. I should be used to it by now, but I’m not. Maybe another team will take the Orioles place next year but the tombstone reads – Bluefield Orioles, 1958-2010, rest in peace.

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Responses

  1. I’ve never been that big of a fan of baseball, but it brings to mind fond memories of my father and his love of the game. He was old enough to remember, as a small child, when the Cleveland Indians won the series. Good post sir, if there is one thing that is unavoidable, it’s change.


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