At least a few of you have probably asked that question since our site formally launched Thursday. I know my new partner-in-crime Dan Connolly was asking it a few months back when I first approached him about this endeavor (hope I’ve eased at least a few of your concerns so far, Dan). So I figured I might as well formally introduce myself.
I’m Steve Cockey, and my professional background is in digital marketing and advertising. I’ve worked in the field for the past eight years since graduating from Loyola University Maryland. Yes, I’m a local guy, having grown up in Bel Air with a recent move to Canton. And I’m even more deeply rooted in the area when you consider that my ancestors were original founders of Kent Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with more distant relatives later moving west to found Cockeysville (yes, I’m famous like that). But enough about me, or at least my dull backstory. This is a baseball site, and more than anything I want to convey my love for the game as I try to explain what on earth I’m doing here.
Baseball and the Orioles became a passion of mine unquestionably because of my dad, and his dad before him. Bill Cockey, my grandfather, not only loved the game growing up in Stevensville, but played it. And played it well. So well in fact that the Brooklyn Dodgers invited him to spring training in 1948. A lanky-but-graceful outfielder, there were scouts who felt he had the talent and skills to play professional ball. But alas, in a family of farmers, his priority remained at home, and he wasn’t able to make the trip. Bigger and more important priorities prevailed — showing what kind of man he was — and that dream unfortunately came to pass.
My dad, and certainly myself, weren’t blessed with the same playing talent as my grandfather. Joe Stetka and countless others at Hickory Fountain Green Recreation Council in Bel Air can certainly attest; the swinging bunt was my specialty at the plate. So my love of baseball quickly had to manifest itself in other ways. And it did so most prominently through a bond that my dad and I share, fueled by our love of the Orioles, to this day.
That bond began for me on September 6, 1995. Dad took me to see Cal Ripken Jr., break Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games record, a night that we all know turned out to be one of the most iconic in the history of not just baseball, but any sport. I was 9, and we sat in section 38 directly behind home plate. Former O’s outfielder Mike Young sat next to my dad and they chatted for 3 innings. I struggled to pronounce Curt Motton’s name when asking for an autograph. And Cal, as he so often did, rose to the occasion with a 4th-inning homer.
Dad and I went to Cooperstown the following year for Earl Weaver’s Hall of Fame induction and had dinner 10 feet from Bob Feller (and his impossible-to-open crab legs) at the Otesaga Resort Hotel. And another 10 feet from Brooks and Frank and Jim and the Earl of Baltimore himself. The Birds went on to the reach the ALCS later that summer and again the following season in 1997. Let’s just say, I was hooked.
As I’ve grown and started a career, the idea to somehow marry my professional skills with my passion for baseball and our hometown team has always been in the back of my mind. Or at times in the front of my mind; if any of you remember OriolesFanBase.com from 2008-2009, that was me. But when Dan Connolly’s departure from the Baltimore Sun first came across my twitter feed back in December, the light bulb went off for me, and here we are a few months later.
I want to thank my dad for passing along his love of the game, and for his friendship that will always be far more important. This site simply would not exist without him in more ways than I can count. I want to thank Dan Connolly for taking this leap of faith with me and his willingness to partner with such an unknown, dorky baseball fan. And I, of course, want to thank you, the current and future readers of our new site, for embarking on this journey with us. Here’s to hoping that it leads to a lot of fun and another competitive, exciting Orioles season. Let’s not go back to 14-straight losing campaigns, okay? Glad we’re in agreement. Play ball.