Calling the Pen: You May Be Right - It's time for the Piano Man -

Baseball Essays

Calling the Pen: You May Be Right – It’s time for the Piano Man

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

John Angelos wasn’t playing the Big Shot, but the Orioles’ executive vice president was talking about a Matter of Trust when he announced that Billy Joel would play the first concert in Oriole Park’s 27-year history.

“This is the perfect marriage of baseball and live music,” Angelos said Thursday about the July 26th concert. “You want to try and touch people in different ways and give people additional reasons to come to the ballpark.”

In some ways, it’s about being an Entertainer, even when your team is in a massive rebuilding project after a 115-loss season.

“If you can get somebody coming here for Billy Joel … all different genres of music, a lot of those people are baseball fans,” Angelos said. “If you can introduce someone to music through baseball or baseball from music, why wouldn’t you do that? I think you do that in a down year, a middle year or an up year on the field. I think it’s something you do because we’re in the entertainment business.”

He acknowledges that, for some, feeling safe about coming downtown is like a River of Dreams, but for Angelos These Are the Times to Remember.

“It’s more important to fight for a perception than against one,” Angelos said. “It’s good to tell the good story about Baltimore. I know people have been concerned through the years about some of the storylines and some of the realities.

“…I think we should focus on telling all the good stories. Why are so many people coming to Baltimore for all these years? What does Baltimore have to offer?”

Baltimore now has the Piano Man to offer.

“Millions of people are coming to downtown Baltimore,” Angelos said. “The task is to tell the good points, get the story out there and then create events that bring people down, and I think you start to get some momentum the other way on safety as well.”


Angelos didn’t say, I Go to Extremes to explain the timing of the first concert at Oriole Park, but he did say: “In a lot of ways, I think we owe it to the city and the state to work it for all we can and get people down here,”

As Orioles reporter Rich Dubroff wrote in his Diner Question: Last season, Orioles attendance fell to a 40-year full-season low of 1,564,192. Just the Way You Are wasn’t an option.

Angelos recognized that you’ve Got to Begin Again and impressed observers with his hire of 35-year-old Mike Elias to run the club. There is Pressure to avoid taking the Longest Time to rebuild.

In the process, he wanted to illustrate there will be Surprises in remaking the image of the Orioles’ franchise. Sure, it’s a Storm Front now, but there’s an opportunity to build a foundation to last because Tomorrow Is Today.

It’s about Honesty and Keeping the Faith while Elias and manager Brandon Hyde demonstrate that This Is the Time.

The team on the field might be a Half a Mile Away from winning, but Angelos doesn’t want more fans Movin’ Out.

So It Goes that the Ballad of Billy the Kid will be heard on a summer night in Baltimore and maybe Summer, Highland Falls … They say that these are not the best of times but they’re the only times I’ve ever known.

If you happen to see the Uptown Girl downtown, Tell Her About It.

Angelos hopes this is the first of many concerts at Oriole Park. It’s All About Soul, but It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.

Jack Gibbons spent 46 years in sports journalism, including a chunk of that time as sports editor of The Baltimore Sun. Now retired from full-time work, Jack serves as the lead editor and writer for’s “Calling the Pen,” a periodic feature that highlights baseball essays written by the community. If you would like to contribute to ‘Calling the Pen,” send a 750-1,200-word, original piece via email to [email protected] for consideration.



  1. Bhoffman1

    January 12, 2019 at 8:00 am

    Great article as a former New Yorker though I lost all respect for the piano man. He hasn’t written a new song in 18 years and makes millions on the oldies. He should look at Paul McCartney 76 years old with a new critically acclaimed album.

    • Jack Gibbons

      January 12, 2019 at 9:06 am

      Bhoffman1, A friend, and huge Billy Joel fan, gave me a DVD of his concert at Shea Stadium. It’s remarkable in its musicianship and energy, and Sir Paul joins him on stage at the end. The music they both wrote early still resonates, and I’m glad they’re still sharing it.

    • Bhoffman1

      January 12, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      I know that concert but McCartney plays Beatle , wings and new stuff and is still relevant. Billy is a great artist but not writing a new song for 17 years and making millions in oldies doesn’t do it for me

  2. boss61

    January 12, 2019 at 9:13 am

    “Just the Way You are” – Not “Just as you Are”

    Still, a fun read.

    • Jack Gibbons

      January 12, 2019 at 9:41 am

      Thank you, Mark. Looking forward to your next essay.

  3. SpinMaster

    January 12, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Jack: Maybe this time Billy Joel will “start the fire” and the send the Orioles on their way to a new beginning.

    • Jack Gibbons

      January 12, 2019 at 11:12 am

      SpinMaster, July 26th might be a date some fans are looking forward to more than Opening Day on April 4th, but I like the direction in which the Orioles are going.

  4. whiterose

    January 12, 2019 at 10:52 am

    what took so long to have concerts?
    Nats have been doing for while.

    • Jack Gibbons

      January 12, 2019 at 11:17 am

      It wasn’t something that Peter Angelos, Louis and John’s dad, wanted to do as owner of the Orioles. The sons think it’s time to expand the entertainment brand and the experience for the fans.

  5. Steve Cockey

    January 12, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Do you have a favorite Billy Joel song, Jack? “Summer, Highland Falls” is one of my all-time favorites.

    • Jack Gibbons

      January 12, 2019 at 1:08 pm

      Steve, I think I’d have to say Piano Man. I love the story, the way it builds, and the melody. And it’s how I think of him, as the Piano Man, and a storyteller.

    • Steve Cockey

      January 12, 2019 at 9:20 pm

      Hard to go wrong there.

  6. BirdsCaps

    January 13, 2019 at 11:42 pm

    This article is a shoe in for winner of most puns in a baseball article. In all seriousness, I hope the concerts aren’t the only thing that brings excitement to OPACY in the near future or I’ll be an “Angry Young Man.”

    • Jack Gibbons

      January 14, 2019 at 11:08 am

      BirdCaps, You worked in that Billy Joel song title nicely. Opening Day always brings excitement, and it turned out to be last year’s highlight. So little is known about this year’s team that it’s difficult to imagine what the season will be like.

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