With FanFest no longer a winter tradition for Orioles fans, many were upset with the lack of player-fan interaction. However over this past weekend, the Birdland Caravan made its way around Maryland to bring the players to the fans.
On Friday, February the 9th, the Birdland Caravan made its first stop at The Greene Turtle at White Marsh Mall. In attendance was manager Brandon Hyde, shortstop prospect Gunnar Henderson, center fielder Cedric Mullins, shortstop Richie Martin, and the most anticipated Orioles prospect in recent memory, catcher Adley Rutchman.
Although autographs at this event were not allowed, it was still a very nice fan experience. It was heartwarming for me as a life long Orioles fan to see the amount of people who took the time out of their Friday to come out and see these players. For most fans including myself, this was the first chance we have had to personally meet these new players in our organization.
First I had the pleasure of meeting Richie Martin, a small guy in stature compared to the rest of the MLB, but towered over me as I’m barely touching 5 foot 3 inches. After a firm handshake we took a couple pictures. Martin even took a few minutes after pictures to speak with me and other fans personally which is a cool experience for any level of fan.
The next player I met was one we have seen already, centerfielder Cedric Mullins. Cedric thank me for coming out as I approached him and also took a couple pictures with me accompanied with Richie Martin. The Orioles event coordinators were fantastic with the pictures as they kept the line moving quickly without rushing fans through the experience.
Star struck by all the commotion was Gunnar Henderson who stood above everyone else in the room. Softly spoken and a shy kid, Henderson was more than appreciative of the support from fans.
Lastly came the man of the hour, the Orioles #1 prospect Adley Rutchman. Luckily for me, I was first in a very long line awaiting to meet Adley. After helping out bartending for an hour, Adley made his way over to me for a couple pictures. A little more used to the publicity, Adley was very happy to see everyone coming out to support him and the rest of the caravan.
Although it was no FanFest, the first leg of the Birdland Caravan proposed a fantastic opportunity for fans to interact with the team. Not only did it bring fans in touch with the players, the players also visitors local hospitals to see the kids which is always a good move in my book.
With the Birdland Caravan in the rear view mirror, it is now time for Orioles baseball!