[Punk icon Joan Jett grew up in Rockville, Md., and has been an O’s fan since the very first game she attended on August 13, 1969, when Jim Palmer threw a no-hitter against the Oakland A’s (Joan: “So how can you not be an Orioles freak after seeing that for the first game?”). Jett was a guest of honor when Cal Ripken, Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record, and sang the national anthem the day he tied it. She sat alongside President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and baseball greats like Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays. She’s also been known to take her iPad on stage so she can check O’s scores while touring. And I love her even more because Joan bought her Gibson Melody Maker guitar from Eric Carmen following the breakup of my beloved powerpoppers, The Raspberries! She plays it on “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Do You Want to Touch Me,” “Bad Reputation” and all those other early records. – Tom Warner, BoL]
By Chris Payne (Billboard.com, April 7, 2014)
You’ve been an Orioles fan since the late-60s, right?
Joan Jett: Yeah,’69. We used to live in Maryland and my dad took us to see the Baltimore Orioles several times. But my first game was Jim Palmer against Catfish Hunter of the Oakland A’s. Jim Palmer threw a no-hitter. [Actually, the Oakland pitcher that day was Chuck Dobson.] So how can you not be an Orioles freak after seeing that for the first game? It was the team with Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and the 4 20-game winners. [Actually, the O’s team with four 20-game winners – Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson – was the 1971 edition that lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series; it was the last team in MLB history to have four 20-game-winning pitchers.] It was quite a learning experience at the time.
What sorts of things have you done with the team over the years?
JJ: I’ve sung The National Anthem before the game six or seven times. I got a chance to go out on the field during batting practice in the 80s. That was when Cal Ripken, Jr. was going to play his first game. I was on the field joking with those guys, like Eddie Murray. It was just nice to be a fan and be on the field with them.
I also went to Fantasy Week. We would go down and spend a few weeks before Spring Training started. Each team has it and you can go. I did it in ’92. There were 105 people and 5 women including me. You form teams and play baseball for two weeks. You get Major League coaches. My coach was from Baltimore. They would teach you what to do. I played second base; those throws are far! When you’re on a major league diamond, it’s a whole different deal. I had real people teaching me out to pitch. Mike Cuellar, who was a 20-game winner for the Orioles, taught me how to throw a screwball. If you’re a baseball fan, that’s one of the best things you can do with yourself.
What’s it been like to see the Orioles become a winning team again over the past two seasons?
JJ: It’s really exciting to see, seeing someone like Buck Showalter come in and make some changes. I think the general manager, Dan Duquette , is making some moves. I pay attention from Spring Training on.
How do you think the team looks this year? They’re in an awfully tough division.
JJ: They are in a tough division. They’ve got plenty of bats. It’s about the pitching. It’s about making sure the pitching is good. So far, we’re doing okay. I’m sure we’ll be in it. I have a feeling Baltimore will be in the mix.
Chris Davis repeating last year again would be pretty big.
JJ: That would be big but I don’t think you can expect that. I’m sure he would like that to happen but you can’t count on that. All of your hitters have to hit. Our defense I think was the number one defense so that has to stay at number one or two. We had great fielding percentages. They need to perform to what we know they can do. Nick Markakis needs to play the game he can play. Adam Jones playing the game he can play. Manny Machado was a rookie last year. He hurt his knee so I don’t know if he’ll be starting the season. But we have some back-ups who will hold the 3rd base position until he gets better. I’m excited to see what can happen. We have plenty of ammo.
How many games will you make it out to this season?
JJ: I’m going to try to make it to at least a handful down in Baltimore. I’m also going to try to go to a few in New York. I really do enjoy going to Camden Yards. It’s a beautiful ball park to see a great game at.
Joan Jett Writes Love Letter to O’s (Baltimore Or Less)
Joan Jett Still Loves the Orioles (Baltimore Sports Report)
Joan Jett a hit on diamond, too (O’s Fantasy Camp, Argus-Press, 1991)