Friday, June 02, 2006

The irony is not lost on me

While I'm not a huge baseball fan, I am a fan of pop history. A couple of weeks ago, I read about Jef Maier, who ten years ago "stole" a win from the Baltimore Orioles and is now a senior -- and a pretty darn good baseball player -- at Wesleyan University (just down river from my alma mater in the rolling hills of Connecticut). Now, it turns out he might become a professional baseball player. And perhaps he will be drafted by Baltimore!
This is a story about fate, a story about a curse -- if you care to believe in such things. It is a story about coming to grips with them, and maybe, just maybe, reversing them. It is a story about a 12-year-old boy in a black T-shirt who is now a polished 22-year-old man with a marketable talent. And it is a story about a beleaguered baseball team that may be preparing to take a wild stab at manipulating fate by confronting it head-on.

Jeffrey Maier, a future Baltimore Oriole? Oh, dear heaven. The blood of Orioles fandom boils at the very thought of the name, let alone the thought of such a traitorous alliance.

The Orioles are considering drafting Jeffrey Maier, the boy who altered the outcome of the 1996 American League Championship Series.

The story begins on Oct. 9, 1996, when Maier, then 12 years old and a rabid New York Yankees fan, reached over the wall at Yankee Stadium and altered the course of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, as well as the fates -- if you care to believe in such things -- of two franchises.

And the story ends, at least for now, with a phone call Orioles owner Peter Angelos received a few days ago. You'll never guess, the caller said, who is a pretty good college baseball player now, the all-time hits leader at Wesleyan (Conn.) University, an outfielder-third baseman with a decent chance of being drafted during next week's Major League Baseball amateur draft.

"Who?"

Jeffrey Maier. Yes, that Jeffrey Maier.

"You're kidding," Angelos said.
Read the full story by Dave Sheinin over at the Washington Post.

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