Would a playoff homerun against the Stankees be atonement enough?
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And the story ends, at least for now, with a phone call Orioles owner Peter Angelos received a few days ago. You'll never guess, the caller said, who is a pretty good college baseball player now, the all-time hits leader at Wesleyan (Conn.) University, an outfielder-third baseman with a decent chance of being drafted during next week's Major League Baseball amateur draft.
Jeffrey Maier. Yes, that Jeffrey Maier.
"You're kidding," Angelos said.
There was a long pause, and one could imagine Angelos considering all that had transpired for -- but mostly, to -- the Orioles since the moment the young boy reached out with his glove.
For nearly 13 years now, Angelos has presided over a once-proud franchise whose fortunes never seemed to recover from that October night in the Bronx. The Orioles lost the game -- thanks to what still stands as one of the worst umpiring calls in history; while the play was ruled a home run, tying the game, replays showed Maier clearly interfered with the ball -- and lost the series. They returned to the playoffs in 1997, lost again, and since then have endured eight consecutive losing seasons, the longest such stretch in franchise history.
The caller expected Angelos to react to the news of Maier's collegiate exploits and professional aspirations with disdain, perhaps with a string of profanities.
Instead, he said this: "To forgive is divine."