By David Dudley (Urbanite Magazine, 10/01/2007)
On August 22 (2007), the Baltimore Orioles began a double-header with the last-place Texas Rangers by allowing thirty runs in a single game, a feat unseen since 1897. In the wake of this, the Sun summoned baseball historians and statistics professors to provide context. Some scribes noted the team’s typically pungent timing. Then-interim manager Dave Trembley had just been handed the job for 2008 at a press conference earlier that day. After the doubleheader (the O’s lost the second game, too), Trembley faced the press again. “You need to have a real short memory,” he said. “And then you let it go.”
Ah, but this is not our way. Witness the life and death of William G. “Wild Bill” Hagy, the Dundalk cabbie who defined local baseball in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Once described as the most famous fan in America, Hagy retained a spectral presence in Oriole Nation, the incarnation of The Way it Used to Be. Mercifully, Hagy missed the Rangers debacle (and the nine-game losing streak that followed); he died on August 20 (2007) at 68.
Wild Bill’s fame was built upon a now-anachronistic model of fandom—he got drunk and yelled. Such behavior was not uncommon at that time, especially in the upper deck, where Wild Bill held court. This, it must be said, was another world: Fans stashed coolers of beer under their seats; substances were smoked.
Continue reading “Wild Man Blues” at Urbanite Magazine.