MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Actor Meloni joins 'Express Written Consent'

Actor Meloni joins 'Express Written Consent'

Chris Meloni is largely considered a New Yorker, but he's also identifiable, understandably, as a Californian, seeing his chosen profession is acting, and most actors end up in Hollywood at some point in their careers. But Meloni recently took to Twitter to pledge his allegiance to the postseason-bound Baltimore Orioles, to whom he tweeted, "Great win @Orioles! Let's keep the momentum going! #birdland #WeWontStop." So, what gives?

We can only assume his Orioles fandom stems from the fact that his true origin is as a Virginian, having been born in Washington, D.C., while spending his formidable years as a kid growing up in Alexandria, Va., where he emerged as a star quarterback on the St. Stephens School football team. So that would explain his hopping on the Birdland bandwagon, and what better time, given the Orioles' regular-season record (96 wins) and their home-field advantage in the American League Division Series.

But let's not kid ourselves -- most of us didn't really see a correlation between the hunky actor, best known for his decade-plus run on "Law and Order: SVU," and the Orioles until recently. Perhaps it's because of the streetwise characters he has played for so many years that makes him so identifiable with New York that makes us naturally want to talk to him about the Big Apple. In that respect, Meloni had the perfect answer to the question about where his baseball fandom rests -- New York or L.A.?

"The Dodgers -- as are the Giants -- they're New York teams," Meloni said, laughing, while chatting with MLB.com host Jeremy Brisiel during the most recent airing of "Express Written Consent." We're renting them out to you. They're on loan."

Meloni, as most of us recall, had a poignant role in the movie "42," playing legendary Dodgers manager Leo Durocher, who valiantly screamed at his team in support of Jackie Robinson, shunned by so many while bravely breaking baseball's color barrier in 1947.

"I don't care if he is yellow or black or has stripes like a zebra," Meloni, as Durocher, ranted. "If Robinson can help us win, and everything I have seen says he can, then he is going to play on this ballclub. Like it, lump it, make your minds up to it because he's comin'."

It was an epic moment in a wildly impactful movie, and it left a lasting impression on Meloni, who appreciated the script for its message and historical significance.

"I had many feelings about it," Meloni said. "No. 1, it was a brilliant script. No. 2, Leo Durocher was such a character, such a bigger-than-life personality. I knew of him and he was not of my era. You just knew the name and the guy peripherally.

"Then, to delve into it more, and all of that being weaved into this tapestry, to the moment that America took a big step toward being honest, maybe healing, making us, it, a better country."

Meloni noted how difficult it is for a movie to be both educational and entertaining, but he lauded "42" for accomplishing both.

"I felt as though it hit both notes," he said. "When it's entertaining it becomes more accessible to people. A lot of people just aren't aware of trials and tribulations that certain segments of our population have gone through."

Meloni's acting resume is extensive and wide-ranging. He's had serious roles and comedic roles, and in 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his role as Elliot Stabler on "SVU."

He's also well-known for his portrayal of criminal Chris Keller on the HBO series "Oz," in which he starred from 1998-2003 while simultaneously starring in "SVU."

His most recent project is "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For," a crime thriller that serves as a follow-up to the 2005 film "Sin City."

So many of Meloni's roles are serious in nature that it might be hard to imagine that he's not like that off-screen. He's quite the opposite -- congenial, funny and, when it comes to ranking his two current hometowns, entirely diplomatic.

"The traffic is similar, the people are friendlier," he said of Los Angeles, as compared to New York. "They smile more here, but I think the weather has a lot to do with it. But really, I love both places. To be in the business I'm in, I'm very blessed to have those two be the central home bases. The best cities in the world."

But if you see him in October, don't be surprised if he's wearing an Orioles cap.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.