NEW ORLEANS – Walking the streets of this city, there’s plenty of purple. Mixed in with Ravens purple, there is some Orioles orange.
Twelve years ago, when the Ravens last played in the Super Bowl, they had an uneasy relationship with the Orioles. Now, the two organizations regularly support each other.
“We’re ready for Sunday! The Birds of Baltimore fly together. Go @Ravens! #Baltimore Pride,” the Orioles tweeted on Friday.
During the Orioles playoff run, the Ravens wished their neighbors well and invited players to the game, featuring them on the scoreboard. The Orioles returned the favor.
“A lot of Purple in NO,” Adam Jones tweeted on Saturday night. Jones traveled to Denver and stood on the sidelines during the Ravens’ frigid double-overtime win over Broncos. A day after FanFest, he chartered a plane to Foxborough, Mass. for the AFC Championship Game.
The picture of Jones encouraging Joe Flacco as the quarterback ran on the field in Denver is a classic. But, he’s not the only Oriole who’s a big Ravens fan.
Steve Johnson, a lifelong Baltimorean, attends Ravens home games as does Nick Markakis. Buck Showalter has become an avid fan and served as the honorary captain for the Oct. 14 game, two days after the Orioles’ season ended in New York. He was greeted with thunderous applause.
Showalter tried to deflect the attention, saying the applause was for the team, but he admitted getting emotional about it.
Jim Johnson and Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones grew up in Endicott, New York. It’s a good thing the Ravens aren’t facing the New York Giants because Johnson is a huge fan of theirs.
Jason Hammel has become a Ravens fan even though he lives not far from Foxborough. Chris Davis and Matt Wieters were both big Dallas Cowboys fans growing up, but root for the Ravens. Tommy Hunter, who’s from Indianapolis, likes the Colts, but says he’s a Ray Lewis fan.
Ryan Flaherty, a Maine native, roots for the Ravens—except when they play the New England Patriots, and both J.J. Hardy and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette say they have adopted the teams of where they work, so they’re both now Ravens fans.
There are some Ravens connections, too. Flacco’s brother Michael is a first baseman, who plays in the Orioles farm system. Ray Rice is a big Orioles fan, who immediately started wearing their new style cap two winters ago. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith have become Orioles fans, too.
Coach John Harbaugh, who could throw out the first pitch next Opening Day, tells the story how he and his brother Jim played against each other just once—in an American Legion game, and his team won. Harbaugh is an Orioles fan who attended Wieters’ first game.
Ravens supporters outnumber San Francisco 49ers partisans here, but many of the 49ers fans wore caps of the Giants, who won the World Series in October. The 49ers are trying for a rare double: A World Series and Super Bowl win in the same season.
It happened in Baltimore once, too. The Orioles won the World Series in Oct. 1970, and a little over three months later, the Colts defeated the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. Baltimore had a rare chance for a hat trick when the Baltimore Bullets, now the Washington Wizards played for the NBA title that spring and lost to the Milwaukee Bucks.
For 12 years, the Orioles had Baltimore to themselves; Baltimore was the only city in baseball without another major league team. When the Ravens came in 1996, the Orioles were good, and the Ravens weren’t. The Orioles made the playoffs in 1997 while the Ravens struggled.
By the time the Ravens began their run of excellence, the Orioles were three seasons into their 14 straight years of losing. The Ravens have had 10 winning seasons in the past 12. 2012 was the first year both teams had winning seasons concurrently.
As Orioles fans root for the Ravens on Sunday, they can take heart. When the game ends, there will be barely a week until spring training begins.