An era of sorts ends Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.
No more chances for Orioles’ fans to boo Mark Teixeira, the former Severna Park kid and Mount St. Joe’s graduate who has had a splendid 14-season career in the majors, the last eight with the New York Yankees.
The boos have subsided some over the years here for Teixeira, who is retiring in October. You could hear them on Friday and Saturday, but the decibel levels were nothing compared with several years ago.
Quick background: Heading into the 2009 season, Teixeira was the hottest free agent commodity in baseball. The Orioles, who had been terrible for a decade, wanted to bring him home and make a splash.
But everyone knew it wasn’t going to happen. The Orioles weren’t going to pay what it took to land him. He was in his prime and wanted to play for a contender. Agent Scott Boras basically told the Orioles not to bother, and club president Andy MacPhail presented a respectable — but token — offer that would have represented a major hometown discount. It was believed to be seven years and $140 million.
Teixeira, instead, signed with the Yankees for eight years and $180 million – and that season he played in his lone World Series, winning a championship ring.
All probably would have been forgotten with time, but when Teixeira told the New York media at his introductory Yankees’ press conference that he went to games at Camden Yards wearing a Don Mattingly jersey, well, that wasn’t well received in Charm City.
And Teixeira paid for that statement every time he came home – getting a blistering earful in the first few years of that contract. To be fair, Teixeira always remained cordial and professional to Baltimore fans and media, often exhibiting a sense of humor about the harsh treatment in his hometown.
On Saturday, the 36-year-old spoke with reporters about his last series at the Yards – he’s batted .264 with hit 19 doubles, 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 69 games — and his time playing before Orioles fans.
Here’s some of that interview:
Teixeira on his last games in Baltimore: “I think it’ll sink in (Sunday). The past two days have been business as usual, but (Sunday), when you’re leaving the stadium, it will probably be nice to know that I’ve had my last game here.”
On whether he’s had friends and family here during the series: “My family came down for Labor Day weekend. My kids had never been to this stadium, so it’s kind of cool for them to come here. They didn’t enjoy the game Friday night very much (8-0 Orioles’ win), but it’s cool that they got to come down.”
On whether his kids have asked him why he gets booed: “They didn’t really pay attention. They don’t really pay attention to that stuff.”
On being booed in Baltimore: “Honestly, when you play a long time, that stuff, it really doesn’t bother you at all. The fact that (fans) still understand I’m on the field is pretty good considering the season I’ve had. If Yankee fans are cheering opposing players at Yankee Stadium, I’d be a little mad. But when I go around town (in Baltimore) and I’m back home, it’s nothing but love.”
On the animosity caused by choosing the Yankees: “Of course. That’s what it is. But the Orioles were upfront with me back when I was a free agent. They didn’t have any intention of signing me. They made an offer just to say they made an offer. Andy MacPhail was great. He was very upfront and said, ‘Listen, we’re not in a position to match the years or the dollars, and we’re a long way from winning.’ They knew they were rebuilding. I’m the last thing they need when they’re rebuilding.”
On playing at Camden Yards: “I’ve had some great games here. My first three-home-run game was here with the Texas Rangers. Always seemed to hit a lot of home runs here. It’s a good place to hit, so I’ve always enjoyed playing here.”
On the reception worsening when he became a Yankee: “Oh yeah. Absolutely. There were probably 10,000 people in the stands the night I hit my third home run in ’06, and I got a standing ovation after that home run. When your team’s not in it and you’re playing the Texas Rangers … it’s a little different than playing the Yankees. Anyone who was around in ’96 knows that the Yankees were not very well beloved here in Baltimore. There was a Jeffrey Maier announcement in our high school that we had to pray for him. I went to an all-boys Catholic school, and you weren’t allowed to say bad things about him. You just had to pray for him. So, kind of a good learning experience for us. That was not a fun day for Orioles fans.”
On whether he was mad that day: “Just a little bit.”
On whether his family members are still Orioles fans: “Still are. My cousins came down for the Oriole game … last weekend, and it was the first time I’d seen them wear Yankee shirts. They said, ‘This is our first and last time wearing a Yankee shirt.’ But they supported me that game, and we had a good game. It was fun.”
On whether his family/friends will go back to hating the Yankees now: “Absolutely. And all my friends have told me that. They’re like, ‘We root for you, but we don’t root for the Yankees.’”
On his overall thoughts leaving here: “I have enjoyed it. It’s been really nice. Just kind of being honest with everybody and not having to hide it. To be able to say bye to people. Freddy (Tyler), the clubhouse guy here, has been getting my dad parking passes for 14 years so he doesn’t have to park 10 blocks away. It’s nice to be able to say bye to those guys.”