Not-so-welcome reaction for Teixeira
Maryland native doesn't regret picking NY over Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- It took mere seconds for a group of young fans to spring to life, pouncing on Mark Teixeira above the visiting dugout at Camden Yards on Monday and calling the Yankees first baseman just about every unflattering name in the book.
Teixeira never looked up, the slightest of a smile appearing to crack his face. That pregame encounter was just the beginning of what the Maryland product expects to hear in Baltimore, having spurned an offer from the Orioles to sign an eight-year, $180 million contract with the Yankees.
"I would expect Orioles fans are going to boo [the] Yankees," Teixeira said. "It doesn't matter where you're from, where you grew up, what your name is. If you're a Yankee, you're going to get booed, so I expect a little bit of it."
Teixeira got plenty on Monday. He was booed vociferously during pregame introductions, so much that the noise continued into the announcement of No. 4 hitter Hideki Matsui. Though Teixeira beamed then, he also took an earful in each of his four hitless at-bats during the Yankees' 10-5 loss.
"I'm sure he's going to have to deal with that for a while, like everything else," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The Yankees are used to getting booed when we go on the road."
In one key moment, Teixeira came to the plate for an eighth-inning at-bat with two men aboard and New York trailing by one run. With boos raining down, Teixeira took a called strike and fouled a pitch back before chopping a soft ground ball to second base, ending the inning.
"I didn't get it done there," Teixeira said. "Give them credit -- they made good pitches. They have a very good bullpen. I think the Orioles are very much improved, and we just didn't get it done tonight."
The Orioles reportedly went as high as seven years and $150 million in their bidding for Teixeira, hoping to lure him as a key piece of their rebuilding effort in the American League East.
Teixeira's heart was colored in some orange -- he grew up as an Orioles fan in nearby Severna Park, Md., saying he tried to attend about five to 10 home games at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards growing up. To this day, he credits Eddie Murray as his inspiration for switch-hitting and recalls fondly how he stayed up late on school nights to cheer on Cal Ripken Jr.
But Teixeira was conflicted, naming Don Mattingly as his favorite player and attending home games in the Bronx to see the sweet-swinging first baseman, though he dared to wear an Orioles cap to Yankee Stadium. His boyhood bedroom still displays a framed, fading poster of Mattingly in his pinstriped glory.
In the end, Teixeira took the larger offer from the Yankees, who offered the promise of a perennial postseason contender.
"In a perfect world, the Orioles would have won the World Series every year I was alive and I'd be an Oriole right now," Teixeira said. "I have so much love for this city and this organization. But in the baseball world and in the business world, sometimes you have to make difficult decisions. When it came down to it, the Yankees were a better fit for me."
Orioles manager Dave Trembley said that he thought Baltimore had a legitimate chance to land Teixeira. The decision became final two days before Christmas, with Teixeira saying at his introductory news conference that his wife, Leigh, had told him to select New York.
"I didn't get the sense he was heading elsewhere," Trembley said. "I got the sense that perhaps -- him being a local guy, so to speak -- maybe his heart was here playing in Baltimore. Then, when he didn't sign here, it wasn't because we didn't make every effort and have every intent to try and get him here.
"It was that his decision was to go elsewhere, and so be it. I don't hold that against anybody for trying to better themselves and do what they want to do."
Teixeira said that he would scarf some crab cakes this week and expected a large contingent of family and friends to attend the Yankees' first three games at Camden Yards, leaving blocks of passes for aunts, uncles and cousins.
Those guests almost certainly will hear some off-color language -- the fans above the third-base dugout on Monday afternoon wielded a sign that read, "Severna Park Hates You, Tex" and told Teixeira to "get out of our park."
Teixeira said he will take it all in stride.
"I expect to get booed everywhere we go," Teixeira said. "We're the Yankees, and the Yankees, you love them or you hate them. And in Baltimore, you definitely don't love them."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.