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Professional

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Associated Press
Baltimore’s Lew Ford scores in front of New York catcher Russell Martin on Sunday in Baltimore.

Playoffs return to Camden Yards

– Orioles fans waited 15 years to see a playoff game at Camden Yards, so enduring a rain delay wasn’t all that much of an imposition.

Even if it was snowing, nothing was going to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd for the opening game of the AL division series between Baltimore and the New York Yankees on Sunday night.

“I want to see the Orioles beat the pants off the Yankees,” said 57-year-old Carol Pounsberry.

A steady rain delayed the first pitch for nearly 2 1/2 hours.

After 14 straight losing seasons, the Orioles pulled off a stunning reversal by winning 93 games to earn a wild-card berth. Then, after beating Texas 5-1 on Friday, Baltimore returned home to play host to the hated Yankees in Game 1 of the first-round series.

This is the time of year when the stadium is usually locked shut and the field is blanketed with a tarp. Instead, the fans flocked into the park while the Orioles took batting practice. The Major League Baseball logo with the word “POSTSEASON” was painted on the outside portion of the first- and third-base foul lines.

When the Orioles last played a playoff game at Camden Yards, Baltimore lost a seven-game AL championship series to Cleveland, 4-2. The series ended with Armando Benitez giving up the winning run in the 11th inning.

Jim Thome, now 42 and a designated hitter for Baltimore, was Cleveland’s first baseman that day.

Since that time, the Orioles headed home after the final regular-season game. Without fail. Until now.

Stephanie Brooks was 11 years old in 1997. She arrived Sunday with her fiance, Justin Sucuiletti, who was wearing a Derek Jeter jersey and a Yankees cap.

“My dad was an avid Orioles fan. He grew up in Maryland and he raised me to be an Orioles fan,” she said. “I have never seen them in the playoffs, so this is really exciting for me.”

Since 1997, the Yankees have participated in the playoffs every year except for one. Brooks figured it was about time for the Orioles to show their superiority.

“I think it’s really important because the Yankees win so much,” she said. “It’s really special for us to be here. I would love to have the opportunity to brag over him about it.”

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