You'll pardon pitcher Joe Saunders if he had trouble figuring out exactly who the elderly gentleman in the Orioles clubhouse was. Saunders only joined the team in August, and postgame visits from Baltimore's 83-year-old owner Peter Angelos have been almost as rare of the club's postseason appearances in the past decade and a half.
So in describing Angelos' surprise visit to the locker room Monday after the Orioles beat the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS, the Baltimore Sun reported, "It was almost like royalty had entered the room."
Royalty that might need certain introductions. Saunders was among the players, including Adam Jones and Darren O’Day, that Angelos personally congratulated. The Sun noted that Saunders "wasn't sure who the man was until Angelos moved on."
But clearly Angelos knew Saunders because the Orioles might not even be playing the Yankees in this series if it hadn't been for his strong start in the team's win at Texas in the wild-card game Friday. Angelos did not make the trip to Texas, opting to watch the game from Cafe Triola, an Italian restaurant in Towson, Md. MASN Sports reports that Angelos plans to be in New York when the series resumes Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
As Angelos chatted and shook hands with several players, who understood the impact of his visit, the owner also came away with a souvenir. Closer Jim Johnson, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning Monday, gave the boss the ball from his 43rd save of the season. That came on Sept. 16 in Oakland and it clinched the Orioles' first winning season since 1997.
Johnson said he wants to add to Angelos' collection with a World Series ball. If that turns out to be the case, it's a pretty good bet that Angelos will have become a lot more recognizable by those both inside and outside the Oriole organization.