BALTIMORE, Md. – After securing a 3-2, 14-inning win over the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles have secured their first non-losing season since 1997, when they won 98 games.
The world has changed drastically in the last 15 years.
Sports in 1997 looked like this:
Washington had been devoid of a baseball team for a quarter. The Nationals were still eight years away from becoming the third iteration of a home team in the nation’s capital.
Both Bryce Harper, age 7, and Stephen Strasburg, age 9, were still in elementary school. Davey Johnson was named the AL Manager of the Year with the Orioles after he guided the club to a 98-win season and consecutive postseason appearances. He resigned at season’s end.
Jayson Werth was drafted by the Orioles in the first round of the amateur draft. His major league debut was five years away, with Toronto. Cal Ripken was still a year away from ending “The Streak.” Cal played in 2,478 consecutive games with the final regular season game of the 1997 season.
The Orioles drew more than 3.7 million fans at Camden Yards, second most in the majors to Colorado. This year, attendance is on pace to surpass 2 million for the first time in Baltimore since 2007.
Major League Baseball only had 28 teams. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays started play in 1998.
The Redskins played their first season in what was then known as Jack Kent Cooke stadium, now FedEx Field. Gus Frerotte was the team’s starting quarterback, and Norv Turner was in the midst of a coaching tenure of six-plus seasons. The Redskins went 8-7-1 that year. It was their first and only tied game since 1971, up to today. They were still two years away from ending a playoff drought that started with the 1993 season.
The Ravens played their second season in Baltimore after leaving Cleveland and finished the season 6-9-1. The Ravens beat the Redskins in their first regular- season matchup, 20-17. Cleveland was still two seasons away from hosting an NFL game again with the reincarnate Browns.
Adam Oates played his first season with the Washington Capitals for the 1996-97 season. He’s about to start coaching his first season with the Capitals, assuming the players and owners can avoid the league’s second lockout in less than 10 years.
Washington’s NBA team was still called the Bullets, and made the playoffs as an eighth seed after Bernie Bickerstaff was named head coach with 35 games remaining in the regular season.
Michael Jordan led the Bulls to their fifth NBA championship (at the time) and second straight by defeating the Utah Jazz in six games. Jordan played in Game 5 of the NBA Finals with the flu, and scored 38 points.
Tiger Woods won his first career major championship at The Masters.
In 1997 around the world:
President Bill Clinton began serving his second term. The Dow closed above 7,000 for the first time. It would close below 7,000 12 years later.
Steve Jobs returned to Apple after leaving the company for 3 years. Microsoft bought a $150 million stake in Apple less than a week later. The iPod was still a year away from its debut, and three years away for commercial use.
Timothy McVeigh was convicted on 15 counts of murder and conspiracy in the Oklahoma City bombing. The USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, was fully restored and set sail for the first time in 116 years. South Park appeared for the first time on Comedy Central.
Top box office hits included “Titanic,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” “Men in Black” (the first one), “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “Air Force One.”
Orioles fans can only hope another 15 years of baseball and the world don’t pass them by before another successful regular season.