Nine innings in Baltimore: The Top of the First - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Nine innings in Baltimore: The Top of the First

Basilio Gets Sober

August 27, 1990

Agitated, so angry his skin itched, Basilio left the house on foot.a little after 7 p.m. He’d skipped dinner and was looking for reefer. If not that, booze and trouble.


Uptown, the Orioles were getting ready to play the Yankees at Memorial Stadium. Not that Basilio knew or cared. An artist since the third grade who worked as a sign painter to pay his bills, he hadn’t given a shit about baseball – or much of anything – for a long, long time.

Not since Trudy left, Grandpop died and Nieves disappeared.

Once, he could have told you facts and stories about every Oriole from the owner to the groundskeeper. One night, instead of doing his homework, he looked up the names of every player and coach in the phone book, getting a hit when Mrs. George Bamberger, wife of the longtime pitching coach, answered the phone.

“I think George should tell Earl to use Moe more,” he blurted into the phone and Mrs. Bamberger said she would pass the tip along. After the third call in a week, the nice lady politely asked that he not bother them anymore.

Tonight, before banging the receiver against the wall, Basilio had been on the phone for more than 40 minutes, dialing numbers instead of rolling them. None of his guy friends had reefer. And none of the women currently orbiting Macon Street were answering.

On 33rd Street, Big Ben McDonald was on the mound for the Birds. You didn’t need to be reading the sports page to know that the Yankees were cocksuckers and always would be.


    – to be continued – 


(Feature photo by Macon Street Books)

About the author

Rafael Alvarez

Rafael Alvarez has lived in Baltimore his entire life except for a brief and cautionary exile in Hollywood. A former City Desk rewrite man for the Baltimore Sun, Alvarez has published books of fiction, memoir and very provincial history. Best known works include "The Fountain of Highlandtown" and the on-going "Orlo & Leini" stories, each detailing life in Crabtown, USA. Alvarez also worked as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun prior to starting a career in television. He has worked as a writer and story editor on the Home Box Office drama series The Wire and a writer and producer on the crime dramas Life and The Black Donnellys. He has written several books including a guide to The Wire, a non-fiction guide to the archdiocese in Baltimore, a short-fiction anthology and two collections of his journalism. He can be reached via or Contact the author.

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