WWJD at Camden Yards?

What Would Jesus Do?

I have never owned or worn one of those “WWJD” bracelets, but I have often thought about the message that those colorful bands communicate.

This past Friday night at Camden Yards, I had a “WWJD” moment that came upon me in an instant.

My friend and I were enjoying a beautiful night at Oriole Park. The fact that the Orioles were lambasting the Red Sox by the score of 9-1 was an added bonus. We were swept up by Orioles fever and it was nice to see Camden Yards full again during any game, much less a game in late September during the last home series of the season as the Orioles were vying for a playoff spot.

As any O’s fan knows, the Red Sox have had our number for several years running. Orioles fans have spent that last 15 years watching the Red Sox contend for the division title nearly year while winning two World Series titles. Meanwhile, our beloved O’s failed to even reach the .500 mark.

On Friday night, the Orioles played flawlessly. Nine runs, 12 hits. A two-run home run by Chris Davis and a grand-slam homer by Ryan Flaherty highlighted a six-run Oriole first inning.

As the top of the ninth inning came, pitcher Chris Tillman was working on gem, a dazzling one-hitter. Quickly, he got two outs. The crowd rose to its feet.

That’s when the trouble started.

As my friend and I rose to our feet, along with 33,000-plus other fans, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was a female, senior citizen Red Sox fan sitting behind me, who looked like she had likely had one too many cocktails. Her eyes widened and her nostrils flared as she scowled and barked at me to sit down so she could see the field. See, she and her husband had decided not to stand.

I scoffed and thought she wasn’t used to seeing her beloved Red Sox lose at Camden Yards. The Red Sox aren’t going to the playoffs this year, the Orioles very likely are.

I felt like reminding this woman where she was as well as reminding her that it is tradition for the home fans to stand and cheer when there are two outs in the final inning. I felt like yelling right back at her and saying that my friend and I had been good fans who sat in our seats the whole game and now it was time for us to stand and she was just going to have to shut her mouth and deal with it.

Instead, I smiled and sat down.

A few moments later after the final out, my friend and I stood up, cheered and exchanged high fives. That’s when I felt something hit my back. I looked over and my friend had a surprised look on his face as well. I looked and saw his back soaked with water. Our old, sad and angry Red Sox fan had flung an entire bottle of water on my friend and much of the water had gone over the third-deck balcony down to the second deck, where people looked up after receiving a surprise shower.

Right then, I felt anger shoot through me. I looked into my friend’s eyes; I saw anger and surprise.

“What was that??” my friend asked the woman.

“What was what? I didn’t do anything,” she said.

“You threw an entire bottle of water on us!” I said, leaning in closer.

“It was an accident,” she screamed. “It just slipped.” A smirk crossed her face and at that point, her husband mumbled something to me about minding my own business or something and I could feel myself wanting to take matters into my own hands.
An usher quickly came over. He said he saw everything and sided with us. So did other fans sitting nearby. Commotion ensued and another usher went to get the cops to have the woman and her husband tossed. Words were exchanged and emotions started to flare.

My friend and I had a decision to make right then and there. We didn’t talk about it, but we knew in a blink of an eye the situation could get messy. We had a choice to make. I kept thinking I couldn’t believe how lucky this woman and her husband were that my friend and I weren’t a pair of slightly inebriated and single 22-year-olds without wives and children at home and nothing to lose.

Eventually, we stayed calm. We let the ushers handle the situation. We didn’t retaliate by throwing beverages or anything else at the woman or her husband.

Like Jesus did many times in the Gospels after he was provoked by those who sought to do him harm or discredit him, we turned the other cheek. Not long afterward, the three cops did show up, but the woman and her husband had already left after being subjected to jeers and unfriendly stares from other fans and sensing that they were going to be embarrassed by being escorted out of the park by Baltimore’s finest.  

As my friend and I chatted with fans afterward about the incident and enjoyed the fireworks display, I thought about how as Christians we are faced with making split-second decisions every day about how to respond to the dificult events that happen to us.

I was proud of how my friend and I responded. We won the battle. We lived out the Gospel values Jesus teaches. We were mostly patient and largely peaceful in the face of aggression and provocation. In short, I felt we did what Jesus would have done, for the most part.

As we walked out of Camden Yards after a great night, my friend and I said goodbye to one another and turned to head off in different directions. As we did so, we gave each other a knowing glance and smile.

We knew that the Orioles were not the only ones who won that night.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.