That day, a 30-year-old man named Ernie Tyler worked his first game as the Orioles' umpire's attendant. He had been an usher at Memorial Stadium since the team debuted in Baltimore in 1954. In his new role, he would work each and every O's regular season and postseason game (as well as an All-Star Game and a few assorted exhibitions) through July 27, 2007. He only deigned to take a day off when Cal Ripken, Jr., a man with a similar work ethic, requested his presence at the shortstop's Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Tyler worked 3,819 consecutive home games in all. Though he encountered health problems in the subsequent years, he was still working for the club through the 2010 season.
Sadly, Ernie passed away at age 86 last night. He had been in a long-term care facility in North Baltimore since December, when he began rehabilitation after having a benign brain tumor removed in October. If you doubt the impact that Tyler had on the fans, players, coaches, and anyone else associated with the Orioles, just stop by the websites of the Baltimore Sun or MASN. The remembrances are pouring in from all over: Cal Ripken, Brian Roberts, Dave Trembley, and Jeremy Guthrie, and of course the various Sun and MASN reporters. The Orioles and the city have lost a great man and a living embodiment of the team's history. If you're interested, you can find out how to pass along your sympathies to Ernie's family and friends here.
I previously wrote about Tyler after spotting him on a Charles Johnson card, and lamented that he'd never been recognized with a card of his own. Fellow blogger Steve of White Sox Cards was kind enough to put together a custom card for the occasion, so I'll pay tribute by posting it now. Thanks for always being there, Ernie.