Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Doug DeCinces, 1982 Donruss #279

It's been almost thirty years since Doug DeCinces hit a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Orioles a dramatic comeback victory against the Detroit Tigers. That one round-tripper is widely credited as the catalyst for what became known as "Orioles Magic". But today is a day to celebrate the man who spent countless summer nights at Memorial Stadium leading the cheers that fueled that magic.

For the non-O's fans and the Birdland neophytes who might be reading, William "Wild Bill" Hagy was a cab driver from Baltimore, and in the 1970s and 1980s he was headquartered in Section 34 of the Orioles' former home on 33rd Street. He and his rambunctious fellow rooters became known as "The Roar from 34". Wild Bill was a sight to behold with his straw hat, big sunglasses, and bushy beard. His beer belly hung over his denim shorts, but he was remarkably limber as he led the crowd in a chant of "O-R-I-O-L-E-S!", contorting his body to spell out each letter. He became so popular that the team actually allowed him to perform his cheers on top of the home dugout. He even had a policy that further endeared him to the local masses - if he picked up anyone wearing a Yankees cap in his cab, he would ask them to remove the hat. Those who failed to comply had to look for another taxi!

Wild Bill Hagy passed away last August at the age of 68. To measure his influence and popularity among the Orioles fans and the team itself, look no further than the posthumous steps taken to honor and celebrate him. The first game at Camden Yards after his death was marked with a moment of silence. There have been memorial services and get-togethers attended by an impressive number of his family, friends, and fans. Earlier this season, a group of fans paid tribute to Wild Bill during a weekend series against the Yankees by donning straw hats and fake beards and leading cheers for the Birds. Tonight, to mark Hagy's birthday, the O's will be giving away orange "HAGY 34" Orioles t-shirts. Best of all, he will be the first recipient of the Wild Bill Hagy award, to be given each year to an exceptional O's fan. From my understanding, this award will be incorporated into the annual Orioles Hall of Fame ceremony in August.

For my part, I will be at the Yard tonight in full throat, proudly wearing "HAGY 34" on my back and tipping back a cold one for the caretaker of Orioles Magic. Happy Birthday, Wild Bill.

Image from baltimoresun.com

4 comments:

Commish said...

Wild Bill was one of a kind. He'd really get the Stadium rocking. Good times.

I've got a video of me leading the O-R-I-O-L-E-S spellout at my wedding reception in '83. My new in-laws were less than thrilled.

Fleerfan said...

Thanks for remembering Wild Bill. I remember listening to Orioles games on the radio and hearing them spelling out O-R-I-O-L-E-S in the background and thinking how much fun it would have been to be up in Section 34.

I also remember that the games that I was able to attend always spending part of the game keeping an eye on Section 34 to watch for Wild Bill.

Rounding Thirty 3rd said...

Kevin,

Great writeup and great timing. The O's pulled off another excellent comeback last night - a fitting tribute to Wild Bill and Oriole Magic!! Wish I could have been there.

Kevin said...

Bob - Good for you! The in-laws should have known what they were getting into in the first place.

JC - A bunch of the Section 34 folks were apparently there last night, up in the nosebleeds down the right field line. Camden Yards is still too sedate for too much of the time, but things got better as the game wore on.

Tim - Unfortunately I showed up too late to get a shirt - judging from the amount of little kids swimming in their orange XL tees, they seem to have ignored the age restriction on the giveaway. I'm going to try to get the word out that I'm looking for one, but what can you do. In the end, I'm glad I got to witness an exciting comeback victory. I'm learning not to despair when they fall behind - that seems to be when these Orioles are most dangerous!