They used to call newspapers “the daily miracle” and The Baltimore Sun’s reporters, photographers and editors can attest that this is still true far too often. But amid the busy scramble of breaking news, we often pause to look up and take in the wonder around us, eagerly noting the people who are making our little corner of the world better, bit by bit. In 2022, we saw that along a wintry highway, in an emergency room, in neighborhoods and in the sky miles above the Earth. And what we witnessed was good news. For us all. Here are 22 Maryland stories that lifted our spirits, gave us hope and made us smile.
— Michelle Deal-Zimmerman and Sanya Kamidi
For decades, Camp Small has been a dumping ground for Baltimore’s tree waste. But as part of a zero waste initiative, Baltimore has been recycling felled street and park trees to make usable products, including Camp Small’s premier output: lumber.
An Ellicott City couple stuck for hours on snowy interstate spots a Baltimore company’s truck. They make a call and a Charm City institution rises to the occasion. The rest is a story that’s better than sliced bread.
Perched on a tree branch, high above the cars rushing past on Baltimore’s Frankfurst Avenue, a solitary bald eagle sizes up its potential nest. The eagle and its mate returned last winter to Masonville Cove in Fairfield for a fourth consecutive year, having successfully raised three eaglets the previous nesting season.
Tony and Neunutae Bell had been counting down the days until their wedding. But a few days before the planned courthouse nuptials, Tony found himself in the emergency department at Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital. The couple was ready to call off the wedding. But once Erynn Bossom, a nurse manager on the neurology and stroke floor, found out, she started to put a plan into motion.
The 17 security guards serving as guest curators for an exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art vividly remember the first time a painting or sculpture began to “talk” to them. That experience was the impetus behind “Guarding the Art,” which ran from March 27 through July 10 this year.
It took ashtrays made from spun sugar to create the illusion of glass that could shatter. It took yards of black fabric covering windows to make a sunny day look like night, and it took a vintage Dodge Polara with 1965 Maryland license plates to travel back in time. All were on view on Midfield Road in Pikesville earlier this year during the filming of a TV adaptation of “Lady in the Lake,” the Baltimore-based novel by local author Laura Lippman.
Denitra Braham is used to getting calls asking about properties in her neighborhood. As the executive director for Belair-Edison Neighborhoods Inc., she has the unfortunate responsibility of breaking the news to those who want to purchase them: It’s a neighborhood where residents often own their homes for decades.
For the astronomers at Baltimore’s Space Telescope Science Institute, seeing a background of galaxies from behind the world’s most powerful telescope this year was anticipated. But for the engineers, focused for so long on building the telescope, it was a “wow moment,” said Lee Feinberg, Webb’s optical telescope element manager for over 20 years.
This year, Félix Bautista finally established himself as a major league weapon. His mother, Polonia Bautista de la Cruz, always saw it coming. “After 10 long years in the minors, every now and then, it kind of felt like he was close to giving up,” Polonia said. “But I kept motivating him to keep going and to keep fighting hard and working hard for this because he did want it.”
While many teens mark their entrance into adulthood on a graduation stage or at a school prom, a group of Black Marylanders has its own traditions. Beautillions began as a way to introduce young people to potential spouses, but today the events have evolved into building professional networks and long-lasting social circles.
What in the world was George Harrison, one of the four members of the most legendary rock band of all time, doing at school on East Northern Parkway one morning at the height of Beatlemania? With the late star’s bandmate Paul McCartney set to appear at Camden Yards earlier this year, it seemed a fitting time to ask.
Jonathon Heyward knows that Black conductors remain few and far between. He frequently thinks of such predecessors as Henry Lewis, who before his death in 1996 was widely considered the first Black conductor of a major American symphony. “One of the most important ideas in classical music is that anyone can be a part of this art form. That is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly,” Heyward said as he prepared to start a new job in Baltimore.
Luke McFadden is breaking the mold in an industry that these days is dominated by older white men, most of who followed their fathers into work on the water. Instead of selling his crabs to wholesalers or carryout restaurants, he launched his own business and sells directly to customers — who often come his way after stumbling upon the videos he posts on TikTok.
Three years after the death of Jordan McNair, a text from trainer Wes Robinson started an unlikely partnership with McNair’s parents, Tonya House and Marty McNair. They had an emotional meeting last year, then worked together on state legislation to improve emergency planning for sports games at middle and high schools.
Eva Cassidy might be the most famous musical artist to ever live in Annapolis, but it took 26 years and a mural dedication for the city to mount a tribute concert in her honor. Acquaintances, co-workers, friends, family, bandmates, roommates and even ex-boyfriends all were among the attendees at the dedication in August of “Maryland Songbird,” a portrait of Cassidy painted on a Cathedral Street building in Annapolis.
The origin of the tomato plant in the bullpen extends far before any current Orioles reliever was born, back when the competitive spirit of manager Earl Weaver met the expertise of groundskeeper Pasquale “Pat” Santarone in the 1960s. Now, all these years later, the tomato plant has returned to a Baltimore baseball stadium for the first time since Santarone retired in 1991 — shortly before Camden Yards opened.
Jorim Reid Sr., the new band director at Morgan State University, said he wants to usher in a new era while respecting the groundwork laid before his arrival. Making Morgan State history, he named four drum majors this year, one of whom is Morgan State’s first-ever female drum major, Angel Mitchell.
It’s been 60 years since Bessie Bordenave graduated from the Harriet Tubman School in Columbia, but the place still feels like a part of her. Bordenave, president of the nonprofit Harriet Tubman Foundation, has worked with many others in the county to preserve the school’s legacy for two decades. In September, under blue skies, the building officially reopened as the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, dedicated to highlighting the history of Black Howard County residents.
Two decades from now, women’s basketball players might bound across plexiglass, LED-powered courts wearing high-tech, compression-legging uniforms that monitor health and won’t clog landfills. The ideas, developed by four Under Armour summer interns during a diversity initiative the Baltimore-based athletic apparel brand launched in June, remain highly conceptual. But then again, the futuristic designs are not so far-fetched, said Lisa Collier, Under Armour’s chief product officer.
All these years later, after 351 field goals and 410 extra points over 11 regular seasons in Baltimore, after an additional 14 field goals and 27 extra points over five postseasons, Justin Tucker still remembers his first. “Yeah, that was a 46-yarder,” the Ravens kicker recalled. The most accurate kicker in NFL history hasn’t missed many since.
The house sat vacant on Presstman Street across from Carver Vocational-Technical High School for as long as Sterling Hardy could remember. Meanwhile, inside the classrooms of Carver, students were developing skills in carpentry, electrical work and masonry daily. It occurred to Hardy that those skills could be used to improve the surrounding neighborhood, while also giving students more hands-on experience working at a real job site.
For 32 years, Joe Jackson has donned the signature suit, beard, hat and glasses as the Santa Claus of Wyman Park. The suit dates back to before Jackson, 58, took on the jolly obligation. His mother, Marcie Jackson, sewed the suit for her late husband, Nick Jackson, in her kitchen with some friends from bridge club nearly 50 years ago.
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