Winless Orioles Lose 21st in a Row
By Richard Justice
The Orioles had lost to the Minnesota Twins, 4-2, breaking the American League record for consecutive losses, and Hemond looked haggard and more rumpled than usual because, in the eighth inning, he received what he thought would be a good luck charm.
Hemond was wearing the same gray champagne-soaked suit he wore in 1983 when his Chicago White Sox clinched the American League West championship.
That suit had hung in a hallway at Comiskey Park for the past five years, but White Sox owners Eddie Einhorn and Jerry Reinsdorf shipped it to him this afternoon. It arrived in the eighth inning, and Hemond slipped into it. It did not work.
"I'm going to wear it every day until we win," Hemond said. "It wouldn't have fit if it hadn't been for this streak. I've lost a few pounds. I felt pretty good when we held them there in the eighth. I thought it might be the good luck charm we needed. I appreciate Jerry and Eddie doing it, and I'm sure they wanted us to end it before we got to Chicago Friday."
But it didn't end today, not with the Orioles leaving eight runners on base, not with them going one for nine with runners on second or third, not with Mike Boddicker giving up a two-run homer to Kent Hrbek and a two-run double to Johnny Moses in the sixth for the game-winning RBI.
And as the tailspin goes on and on, the country keeps watching and waiting.
The small herd of media that began following The Streak last week has grown into a large one. The reporters show up early and leave late. They check for telegrams from famous people, to see if President Reagan has phoned again, or if, perhaps, Michael Dukakis or Jesse Jackson has decided to stop by.
The press following has grown to the point where the Orioles moved Manager Frank Robinson's postgame press conference to the University of Minnesota's football locker room this afternoon. But while Robinson spoke slowly and patiently in one room, reporters from California to New England roamed their clubhouse as players quietly stacked fried chicken and cole slaw on paper plates.
The team says it has been flooded with calls from psychics, motivational experts and various other people seeking to make a buck or sell an idea. Jon Miller, the Orioles' radio play-by-play man, estimates he has done 50 interviews.
"Well, to tell you the truth I'm unemployed," one man identifying himself as a psychic told a public relations assistant. He had given the Orioles a lucky ring, but as he was leaving their office, he added, "Anything you can do to help will be appreciated."
The Orioles appear not to know exactly how to handle this sudden fame. Should they exult in it because publicity is, after all, publicity? Should they duck it because they're famous for being inept?
For a couple of days, the Orioles were promoting a Fantastic Fan promotion for their return to Memorial Stadium next Monday. They announced that more than 32,000 tickets had been sold and that there would be a marching band, a magician and drawings for prizes. But perhaps realizing they were promoting their own failure, they've quietly stopped.
"I know the press is here to do a job," second baseman Bill Ripken said, "but this is killing me. I don't like to lose, and this is worse than anyone can imagine. We may not show it, but there are a lot of people here hurting."
But the players have not been rude, not even when some reporters stay more than an hour after the game waiting from them to leave the shower.
"It's not that people enjoy it," catcher Terry Kennedy said. "It's just so incredible."
© Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company