Loyola trustee has had a ticket to 60 years of Orioles Magic

Michael P. Cataneo, '61, honored as 60-year season ticket holder, shares his outlook on the Orioles' run for the playoffs

By Brigid Hamilton

Michael P. Cataneo, '61, shakes hands with Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette as he's honored as one of the original Orioles season ticket holders in August 2014.

Michael P. Cataneo grew up an O’s fan in Northeast Baltimore.

His father owned a maritime company in Baltimore’s port and had the city’s interest at heart when he bought season tickets for his favorite team. These aren’t just any tickets. Tickets for seats five rows behind the dugout, between home plate and first base. Tickets for what fellow fans call “the die-for seats.”

And, because the 2014 season marks 60 years of Orioles Baseball in Baltimore, earlier this season the Orioles honored Cataneo and 28 others who have held season tickets since the Birds’ inaugural season.

Cataneo’s father considered money spent on the Orioles a “civic investment.” Cataneo, who received his degree in political science from Loyola in 1961 and has served on Loyola’s Board of Trustees since 2009, shares that sentiment.

“Baseball is the national pastime. It puts Baltimore on the map and gives it recognition that maybe it had lost over the last couple of years,” he said. “Baltimore is 40 miles from Washington, D.C. They had a team that probably should have gone all the way this yearand we’ve one-upped them, that’s for sure!”

Part of a City, Part of a Team

He pointed out a team’s success goes beyond happiness for sports fans: “Winning a World Series will help the city economically. It will bring more people here. And I think, for a while, it brings people from various cultures and ethnic backgrounds together. Sports teams provide people with something to bond over; they bring them closer.”

Cataneo said after his father retired in 1969, he renewed his Orioles tickets year after year. Cataneo eventually took over the family business, where he worked until 1993—and he continued to enjoy watching Orioles baseball, sharing his tickets with his friends, his children, business associates from the maritime industry and elsewhere, and members of the Loyola community.

“Of all the professional sports, I find baseball the most exciting and the most interesting,” he said. “And there is nothing more exciting than the playoffs and the World Series.”

A World Series Regular

He would know. Cataneo has been to every World Series. In fact, he was in the stands when the O’s clinched game five in Philadelphia in 1983.

“I have so many great memories,” he said. The most significant? When the Orioles, led by Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson, beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in four games to win the 1966 World Series. He was also present for the games when Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken retired.

And while he has met many players over the years, Brooks Robinson is his favorite. “He was the finest gentleman I ever met in baseball,” he said. “A class act.”

Cataneo and his partner, Carole Barney, and two friends, Rick Lidinsky and Daniel Epstein, have never missed an Opening Day game at Orioles Park. The four friends have kept this tradition alive for more than two decades, since Camden Yards opened in 1992.

Cataneo, who likes to watch the games sitting down, wearing his 1954 replica baseball cap, said he doesn’t get up and cheer often.

“I cheer on the best plays, and I cheer for both teams. To me, an outstanding play, whether it’s made by the O’s or the opposition, it doesn’t make a difference. I stand up and cheer for both,” he said. “Of course, I cheer extra for the Orioles.”

Back in the spring, long before the team’s apparent success in their division, Cataneo said he had a sense this would be a year for “Orioles Magic.”

“Before the season started, I really thought the O’s could make a run this year. I didn’t know how far they’d go, but I did believe they’d win the division. The talent is there, the chemistry is there. When the players do interviews, you get a sense they enjoy playing with each other. And they enjoy playing for Buck Showalter. You know, Buck Showalter put it all together this year. This has to be his finest year as a manager,” Cataneo said.

‘A Team of Destiny’

While he believes they have a chance to go all the way, Cataneo said he wasn’t excited, “really excited,” until last week’s game. “Even I got up and was into it! When they hit the couple home runs, I could feel the adrenaline rush. I really hope they make [the World Series]. I do feel they are a team of destiny.”

Through decades of development and change, success and loss (including those 14 consecutive losing seasons, hard for any fan to weather), Cataneo said he thinks there must be a correlation between the Orioles, being a fan of baseball, and how he feels about Loyola.

“I think it’s loyalty! You don’t stay with a team for 60 years of baseball if you don’t like it and you aren’t loyal to it, and the same applies to Loyola. I have been honored to be associated with the University for 57 years.”

And if the O’s pull off the World Series?

“I’ll be very, very happy,” Cataneo said. “I’ll be happy for the city. And I’ll be happy that I kept those tickets!”

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1 Comment

  • Posted by Barbara Jean Sowman | October 18, 2014

    Yes, I remember the 1966 World Series too. I was in the seat right next to MPC. I remember that Memorial Stadium had plagues on the season ticket holders seats with their name on it. It was with great pride to sit in the Cataneo seats and at the time to be a Cataneo. A very respected name in the Baltimore Maritime Industry.

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