With his new puppy, named for Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, nestled under a loveseat and the latest spring training game on the radio, Andrew Syropoulos can still recall what made him the Baltimore sports superfan he is today.
But there was a time in Syropoulos' more rebellious days studying theater at the School for the Arts when he didn't see the wisdom in pumping public funds into building the Baltimore Ravens a shiny new stadium. When he went to Marietta College in Ohio, smack-dab in the middle of Steelers and Bengals territory, he realized what he was missing.
"I think it was having to defend myself outside of the state and then coming home and seeing how much everybody loved it," he says. "When I was here, I was like, 'Ugh, I have to get out of Baltimore. It's the worst place, it's so small.' Then I went to a place that was even smaller than Baltimore."
And now? It's Ravens and Orioles everything: magazines commemorating the Ravens' Super Bowl win on the coffee table of his parents' Mayfield home; a bar-cum-sports shrine with all manner of memorabilia from the Ravens, Colts, and Orioles; the ability to rattle off names from years-old rosters and parse over statistics like any sports-bar prognosticator.
Beyond all that, there's a victory for Syropoulos that sits right up there with the Ravens capturing the Lombardi Trophy and the Orioles landing in the postseason for the first time in 15 years: the passage of Question 6, legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland.
"That was awesome. I cried after that happened. I sat up as long as I could for Question 6. I saw Obama win and I was like, I think I can go to bed now. I had to work the next morning," he recalls. "I woke up the next morning and read the paper and I started crying. I was calling everyone I knew. I was calling girls I worked with and I was like, 'Wooooo!'"
Though Syropoulos is ordained by the Internet-based Universal Life Church and is set to marry his friends Kirsten and Billy, he is still looking for a boyfriend himself. Being bored with what he termed the "sidewalk sale"-love's last chance after last call outside Club Hippo and Grand Central-he's taken to online dating.
Not surprisingly, he says he's pretty up-front about one thing in particular on his OkCupid profile: "I'm a big sports fan. And if you want to come to an O's game and cheer with me, then awesome. And if you don't, then that's fine too. But I'm gonna make you love something. I'm going to make you love the Orioles or I'm going to make you love the Ravens. It's whatever your pick is."
100 Years of City FolkAge 10: Jaya Mandala | Age 20: Jaclyn Jones | Age 30: Andrew Syropoulos
Age 40: Samuel E. Lee Jr. | Age 50: Maureen Kramer | Age 60: Andrew Der
Age 70: James E. Locklear | Age 80: Mario Carrion | Age 90: Laura Johnson
Age 100: Lucille Brooks