Birdland Caravan: Making A Difference In Our Communities
In February, the Birds hit the road for the Birdland Caravan, a season kickoff event created to bring the Oriole Park experience directly to fans across the Birdland community. Orioles players, coaches and front-office staff traveled more than 513 miles across Maryland and Pennsylvania. More than 18 cities were visited during the three-day span, and more than 4,000 fans participated in engagement events throughout the weekend.
The Caravan was comprised of meet and greets, happy hours and community-service projects. Fans all across Birdland had an opportunity to take photos, receive autographs and interact with their favorite Orioles one on one at happy hours through a game of cornhole, at a photo booth station or by receiving a drink from a player as a guest bartender.
The Orioles also made a series of surprise stops in the communities they visited. On day one, the team delivered donuts and coffees to staff and families in the newborn unit of MedStar Franklin Square Hospital. They also stopped by the NICU to visit with ill and premature newborn infants and their parents. The following day, they surprised police officers in Bowie by delivering cupcakes from Michael’s Desserts, a 14-year-old Bowie-based baker who donates proceeds from his sales to local individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness. Their final surprise came on Sunday, when the Caravan stopped by the Frederick County YMCA for an impromptu photo session with Y families!
The Caravan was designed to help strengthen and improve communities throughout Birdland. Here’s a look at the community service projects from the Birdland Caravan.
Stop #1: York County Food Bank
Richie Martin and manager Brandon Hyde, along with Orioles staff members, spent the morning packaging potatoes and frozen apricots as part of the food bank’s “Food for Families” program. The Orioles sorted over 2,000 pounds of food in just one hour. The York County Food Bank supplies more than 9,000 pounds of food per weekday to more than 100 organizations that then distribute the items throughout York County to individuals who are food insecure.
Stop #2: Humane Society of Harford County
Orioles coaches Tim Cossins and Fredi González, as well as players Cedric Mullins and Adley Rutschman, created over 300 enrichment toys for dogs currently residing in the shelter. The Humane Society of Harford County promotes the humane treatment of homeless, stray and abandoned animals by providing shelter, care, adoptions and community education.
Stop #3: Ellicott City Fire Department
Trey Mancini and Ryan McKenna stopped by the Ellicott City Fire Department to deliver donuts and meet firefighters. They participated in training exercises, including dressing up in full firefighter gear, simulating a victim rescue and operating a fire hose. They also toured the boat deployment area, where watercraft that responded to the 2018 Ellicott City floods are stored. The mission of the Ellicott City Fire Department is to maintain a safe environment and high quality of life in Howard County by educating, protecting and serving citizens, members and visitors.
Stop #4: Fort Meade
A trip to Fort George G. Meade allowed Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias and infielder Hanser Alberto the opportunity to play board games with members of Better Opportunities for Single Service Members (BOSS), an organization comprised of multiple military sector personnel who live on the base. Fort Meade is the nation’s center for information, intelligence and cyber operations and is also Maryland’s largest employer. It is home to several major federal agencies, including the National Security Agency.
Stop #5: Girls Inc. of Washington County
Assistant general manager Sig Mejdal joined prospects Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle and Grayson Rodriguez in visiting Girls Inc. to host a baseball clinic for girls in Hagerstown. They took turns teaching hitting, fielding, throwing and baserunning exercises. Girls Inc. focuses on holistic development for girls. A combination of long-lasting mentoring relationships, a pro-girl environment and research-based programming equips girls to lead fulfilling and productive lives, break the cycle of poverty and become role models in their community.
Stop #6: Baseball Clinic with Winters Mill High School
Dwight Smith Jr., Rio Ruiz and National Baseball Hall of Famer and special advisor and community ambassador Eddie Murray worked with baseball players from Winters Mill High School on improving gameplay techniques. Murray also advised the coaching staff from the high school on best practices for developing players. The clinic took place at the batting cages at Players Fun Zone, an indoor arcade in Westminster, giving young athletes the opportunity to learn from a Major League legend in their own hometown.
Showcasing the incredible work of these local organizations was a key element of Birdland Caravan. Now more than ever, our community needs our support. If you are able, please consider donating to one of the many organizations helping our Birdland community.