The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly has spent much of his two decades in print journalism covering the Orioles, starting on the beat with the York Daily Record in 2001.
Connolly, who joined The Sun 10 years ago, has penned hundreds, if not thousands, of profiles, features and breaking news stories under tight deadlines on everything surrounding the Birds during that time.
But the Baltimore native added to his busy workload and embarked on another project during the 2014 season, as he authored his first book. The book, "100 Things Every Orioles Fan Should Know & Do Before They Die," was published by Triumph Books and released in April.
Connolly, the 2013 Maryland Co-Sportswriter of the Year, said the opportunity to write the book was something he couldn't pass up following his initial conversation with Triumph Books in February 2014.
"I've always wanted to do a book," Connolly said. "I thought about it, and the thing that intrigued me about the process was that because this book is 100 chapters, [I] could write a chapter in a night or before I went to the park. So [I] could kind of start and stop, and I thought that might work by doing it all through the baseball season."
The book highlights nearly every major storyline of the Orioles' first 60 years in Charm City after relocating from St. Louis following the 1953 season.
"For the most part, it's really a history book," Connolly said. "I tried to concentrate on the Orioles players and teams fans know about, so it's been really cool sharing that with people."
For the older fans, a number of chapters focus on the Orioles' glory years in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, during which the franchise won all three of its World Series. And for the younger generation, there are chapters about the team's recent return to prominence under manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette.
"When I've done book signings, I've really just been sitting there and having conversations with Orioles fans about the book and their favorite parts," Connolly said. "Orioles fans love to talk about their favorite players. … And if they've read the book before, they'll tell me some of their favorite things in it -- like how they remember the old teams and how the current team is starting to remind them of those older teams again."
Connolly also touches on the traditions that started at Memorial Stadium and have since carried over to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Among those include the origins of how "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" became the team's seventh-inning stretch song and the yelling of "O" during the national anthem.
And with a franchise as rich in history as the Orioles, Connolly said he thought long and hard about which former O's player he wanted to write the foreword. He ultimately tabbed the most successful pitcher in team history, right-hander Jim Palmer, who has been with the organization in some capacity for the last 50 years.
"Honestly, I thought about it, and to me, Jim was the perfect guy for the foreword," Connolly said. "He pitched in all six of the team's World Series, and he's still around the team. Basically, we sat down and talked for a while, and then we put it together."
Connolly said the book took about seven months to complete, with the deadline for the final manuscript due two weeks after the Orioles' season ended Oct. 15, 2014. To ensure he didn't omit anything and stayed on schedule, Connolly acknowledged he interviewed about 45-50 former Orioles and consulted with colleagues throughout the season to get their thoughts about inclusions.
"It was a lot of work and time," Connolly said. "It was a process that I started last April, and now I'm looking forward to being able to spend time with my three children and be a dad again."
Since the book's release, Connolly said the response has been overwhelming and more than anything he anticipated.
"[Triumph Books] feels like the book has gotten great reviews, so that's been really cool," Connolly said. "People seem to have been really intrigued by the book and interested in it. The whole thing has just been fantastic."