“I admire him not only for his talent, but for his constant determination day in and day out,” President Clinton once said about Cal Ripken, Jr. “He’s been loyal to his team, his fans, the community and professional sports every phase of his career. His determination and talent has been great for baseball and America.” Ripken’s streak of consecutive games famously lasted for 17 years, but I’m more impressed by 84-year old O’s fan Justin Vitrano, who can boast of a 59 year streak — he has been to every single opening day game since the Orioles came to Baltimore.
Vitrano is pretty much the definition of a diehard baseball fan. He was Johns Hopkins University’s third baseman and also played for the Baltimore city leagues. Back in the day, Vitrano told WBALTV, “You could get into the right field bleachers at old Oriole Park for a nickel. You could buy a hot dog for a nickel, a soft drink for a nickel, peanuts for a nickel, and we could ride the street car home for a nickel. So, for a quarter, we could go to a ball game.”
Vitrano is an old-school Baltimorean of the best kind; his mother was an immigrant from Italy who moved to the city, married, and started a company that became the largest celery purveyor in the city; Vitrano’s father was known as “the celery king of Baltimore.”
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