On October 6, 1991, the Baltimore Orioles closed Memorial Stadium with a 7-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers. The next day, the Washington Post reported:
The crowd, which boosted season attendance to a record 2,552,753, had little to cheer in a game that reflected the Orioles’ sixth-place season of frustration. Detroit scored four runs in the first inning and coasted, 7-1, which at least enabled Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell to report glad tidings to Detroit listeners on his final day as Voice of the Tigers.
As an Orioles broadcaster in 1954, Harwell called the first major league game here, won by the Orioles and “Bullet Bob” Turley, and both Turley and Harwell were introduced. “This was the first major league stadium I ever saw,” said Elrod Hendricks, who’s worn an Orioles uniform for 22 1/2 seasons as catcher and coach. “I fell in love with it then and hate to see a dear friend go today.”
After the game, Frank Robinson – back in uniform – became the last Oriole to touch home plate, tagging up at third and landing on the plate with both feet. With that, a police-escorted white limo roared onto the field carrying the grounds crew dressed in white tuxedos. They dug up home plate, put it in the trunk, fell in behind the escort and drove off toward Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
To music from the movie “Field of Dreams,” all 78 old Orioles trotted to their old positions – they needed no introduction: Brooks and Frank, Boog Powell, Jim Palmer, Flanagan, Baylor, Dennis Martinez now of Montreal back in his Orioles uniform and laughing at the crowd’s surprise, Dave McNally – on and on down the Orioles alphabet from Don Aase to George Zuverink.
“To walk out there for the last time was very, very sad,” said Milt Pappas, a pitcher the Orioles traded to get Frank Robinson. “I’m glad the Orioles did this and I’m glad they brought me back.”
Cal Ripken: “I was in the stands for the ’79 Series cheering as loud as everyone else. Ed-die, Ed-die.”
“I’m not one of those guys to shed tears,” said Manager John Oates, an ex-Oriole player, “but every one of those guys I looked at – Palmer, Weaver, Marcelino Lopez – there were tears coming out of all those people. I didn’t even want to make eye contact with my wife. You can’t help but get involved in the emotion of it. Cal Jr. had a few tears too, don’t let him kid you.”
(Read about the first game at Camden Yards, in 1992, here.)