BALTIMORE—The last time J.J. Hardy was in Baltimore, he hit a home run in his final home game with the Orioles on September 24, 2017. He returned for his induction into the Orioles’ Hall of Fame on Saturday night.
The longtime Orioles shortstop will be joined by outfielder Mike Devereaux, broadcaster Joe Angel and Mo Gaba, the late Orioles superfan.
“It brought back a lot of memories just driving to the hotel and through the Inner Harbor,” Hardy said on Friday.
Hardy came to the Orioles from Minnesota and played here from 2011-2017. He enjoyed the final game of the 2011 season against the Boston Red Sox when Robert Andino’s hit set off a wild celebration.
“It felt like we won the World Series, but we just kept Boston from making it to the postseason,” Hardy said.
Hardy remembers the dramatics of 2012 when the Orioles went 16-2 in extra-inning games and won the wild-card game in Texas. In 2014, the Orioles won the American League East.
“My favorite moment in my whole career was Game 2 of the ALDS when Delmon [Young] hit that double,” Hardy said.
Hardy missed nearly three months because of a broken wrist and returned to play for the final week of the 2017 season after Tim Beckham was injured.
“You can’t really write up an ending like it happened for me,” Hardy said.
Hardy served as a spring training instructor for the Orioles in 2020, but he’s still not ready to return to the game. He has two boys, 6 and 3, and he wants to be with them as much as he can.
“Every parent I talk to tells me to live it up, it goes by fast,” Hardy said. “Your kids grow up so fast. I’m taking everyone’s advice. I’m enjoying it.
“It’s gratifying. It’s fun to be around them and watch them grow. I just can’t see myself in the near future being away from them. There’ll be a time when they start school and maybe it will be easier to get away, but for now, I’m enjoying hanging out with them.”
Hardy doesn’t see many Orioles games but is confident if the team rebounds, the fans will return.
“This city absolutely loved us for all those years I was here,” Hardy said. “I was lucky to get traded here when I did when there were a lot of young and talented team here.”
Devereaux was with the Orioles from 1989-1994, and then again in 1996. It’s his first time back in Baltimore since 2019 when he returned for the 30th anniversary of the 1989 “Why Not?” team that nearly won the American League East, a year after the team lost its first 21 games and finished 54-107.
“When I think of Baltimore, I think of the fun I had here,” Devereaux said. “I still watch the games. I wish they were doing good.”
Devereaux was with the Orioles when they moved to Camden Yards in 1992, and he played in front of sellout crowds.
“The times I’ve been here the past few years, and I see that the crowd’s not here, it doesn’t even look the same,” Devereaux said. “It’s sad that it’s turned that way. I hope that it turns around when the fans start coming back.”
The most memorable moment of Devereaux’s career came on July 15,1989 when his ninth-inning, two-run home run gave the Orioles an 11-9 win over the California Angels.
There was no replay then, and it’s questionable whether the ball was fair. Angels manager Doug Rader was so angry, he was ejected from the following day’s game as the lineup cards were being exchanged.
“They bring it up a lot,” Devereaux said. “It’s more of a joke now. I know Doug Rader didn’t think it was a joke.”
The Orioles have undergone a radical turnover since Devereaux’s time, and even in the four years since Hardy left.
“There’s maybe a handful of people in this organization that were here when I was here,” Hardy said. “They’ve changed, and they’ve changed rapidly. I’m sure things will turn around.”
Gaba remembered: Sonsy Gaba, the mother of the late Mo Gaba, who died in July 2020 from cancer, will represent her son as he joins the Hall of Fame.
Gaba talked about how much her son, who died at 14, cared for Adam Jones and Trey Mancini.
“Those were his hearts,” she said. “When Trey got sick, that broke his heart. That’s what’s stood out to me.”
Gaba returned to the ballpark on July 28th, the one-year anniversary of her son’s death to throw a first ptich to Mancini and cheer when he homered. It’s been an awful year for her.
“Heartbeaking,” she said. “I miss him. It’s just a void that I could never fill. This year has been weird because I’m so used to celebrating everything with him, and I don’t have him hear to celebrate with me. Although I’m proud of him, I miss him dearly.”
Injury updates: Relievers Tanner Scott, who’s on the 10-day injured list because of a sprained left knee, and Tyler Wells, on the 10-day because of tendinitis in his right wrist, could be reactivated by the middle or the latter part of next week, manager Brandon Hyde said.
Wells threw a live batting practice at Yankee Stadium and felt some soreness. He played catch on Friday. Hyde hopes he can throw in the bullpen in the next few days and then throw another live batting practice.
Hyde said that Scott would get on the mound in the next few days to see how his knee responds.
The Orioles haven’t decided what’s next for pitcher Bruce Zimmermann, who threw three scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday. He gave up two hits, walked four and struck out five. Zimmermann, who is on the injured list because of tendinitis in his left biceps, could have another rehab start for the Tides or be activated with the Orioles.
Hyde said that Matt Harvey, who injured his right knee on Wednesday night, felt better and should make his scheduled start next week.
Mateo plans: Hyde is eager to look at the newly acquired Jorge Mateo, claimed on waivers from San Diego on Thursday.
“I’m going to give him a big opportunity,” Hyde said. “It’s a really talented player, a guy that’s been on top of prospect lists for a long time, just hasn’t had the everyday major league opportunity.”
Mateo, who is one of the fastest players in baseball, has played the infield and outfield.
“We’re going to take a look at him in the middle,” Hyde said. “He’s an option to play all over the place because he has in the past … I expect him to be in there some place in the middle of the field right now. We’re going to focus on the infield at first and then go from there.”