By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– He’s been a part of WJZ‘s popular Manic Monday crew since it started 15 years ago. You know him as The Coach.

Ron Matz reports, he’s celebrating his birthday in a big way and also realizing a dream.

Charlie Bridge was ready. Friends joined him at the yard on this day, his 82 birthday, he would throw out the first pitch to the loud cheers of the crowd.

“It was the greatest thing that ever happened in my life. And I couldn’t believe it was when the crowd stood up and gave me a standing ovation. It was unbelievable,” Bridge said.

At Jimmy’s Restaurant, fans crowded around him. He’s been an Orioles fan since he was 6 years old. Doing this was a lifelong dream.

“I always wished I could go out and throw the first pitch, to be on the field. And now I did it. I don’t know if there’s anything that could top this,” Bridge said.

“There was something in his face that was indescribable– when we walked out from the tunnel into the daylight, it was unbelievable,” said Jimmy Filipidis, owner of Jimmy’s Restaurant and The Coach’s friend. “His whole face lit up. This was his big moment.”

One of those cheering was the O’s part owner, Steve Geppi.

“We had owners cheering for us, so were the maintenance people. The Orioles are a first-class organization. They rolled out the red carpet for him,” Filipidis said.

The Coach is holding on to the mementos of his memorable day– the ticket, his credential and the ball signed by O’s catcher Taylor Teagarden.

“The emotions I tried to keep in as much as I could but when the crowd stood up and cheered for me, that really got to me,” Bridge said.

An unforgettable day for an amazing man who still has a few pitches left.

Bridge is a resident of Fells Point and is a former amateur baseball coach.


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