Orioles become kids again at Little League Classic

August 21st, 2022

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Before the rainstorm, there was the madness.

The Orioles descended upon Williamsport and the Little League World Series on Sunday afternoon, hours before they faced off against the Red Sox in the Little League Classic at Muncy Bank Ballpark at Bowman Field. Their day was filled by bright-eyed Little Leaguers, autographs and dirt … from sliding down the famed hill located behind Howard J. Lamade Stadium.

“I'm sure it must have been a lot of fun for them,” said outfielder Austin Hays. “I would have loved that when I was 10-12 years old.”

Here are the top 10 moments of the Orioles’ day as kids once again:

1. All about Adley

They say the young generation usually knows what’s hip. That certainly seems to be the case around .

The Orioles’ rookie phenom was the attraction of the day, from being quite literally swarmed by Little Leaguers to then having his jersey swarmed by signatures. Any place Rutschman tried to go, he was followed by a crowd. Such is the fate of a face of the franchise. And one moment stuck out in particular …

2. Do a barrel roll!

A police officer made his way down the hill to create a clear path, a literal police escort for Rutschman. “Adley’s coming down the hill!” yelled one young attendant. And then, Rutschman set cardboard down the hill, rolling to his side as he reached the end, then going back to find his partner with whom he started to make sure he was all right.

Wouldn’t you know the German word for “slide” is “rutsch”?

3. The slide life

It was far from just Rutschman. Nearly the entirety of the Orioles’ clubhouse took a turn down the hill: players, manager Brandon Hyde, some of his coaching staff, front-office staffers and even clubhouse attendants.

No moment may have been greater than that authored by Hays. The Orioles outfielder set for a race against a youngster, lost his cardboard slide halfway down the hill, then returned to collect it and got back to the bottom. (He claims he won.)

4. "Which one of you pitched?"

In the days leading up to Sunday, found himself watching one of Team Hawaii’s games, impressed by the pitcher on the mound. When Tate found himself in front of Team Hawaii, he needed to find out who he had seen. When he did, he got his autograph.

“You’re a really good pitcher, man,” Tate said. “I watched you throw on TV. I like your stuff, man.”

5. "Signature for signature"

Following Tate’s lead, Rutschman found himself surrounded by Team Southwest. Naturally, their ask was his autograph. The price? Rutschman wanted one of his own, giving him a jersey filled with autographs that he wore throughout the day.

6. The arrival

The chartered United flight had landed at Williamsport Regional Airport when Team Great Lakes (Indiana) and Team Panama formed a runway of their own at the end of the staircase. By the time a majority of the Orioles made it to the team buses, they had swapped their O’s hats for those of the youngsters who greeted them. The stage was merely set for the rest of the afternoon.

7. Paying it forward

The best opportunities of the Little League Classic are those that allow the players to pay their experiences forward, instill awe into the next generation. Ramón Urías got a particularly touching opportunity to do so, the Magdalena de Kino, Mexico, native signing autographs for Team Mexico, all of whom were ecstatic to see him. It was the type of moment only possible at the Little League Classic.

8. The swag

and -- Little League products respectively from Maracaibo and Punto Fijo, Venezuela -- had custom cleats designed to pay homage to their roots. Rutschman, meanwhile, had a custom-made Top Gun-inspired bat -- all chances to let some of their personalities shine.

9. Look right up at Félix Bautista

The only thing missing from Sunday might have been a contest to see how many Little Leaguers it would take to stand taller than Félix Bautista. The Orioles’ closer was one of the day’s biggest attractions -- both literally and figuratively -- continuing his soar up the baseball landscape.

10. Opening ceremonies

To kick off a game between Latin America (Nicaragua) and Japan, a group of Orioles lined up across each baseline for introductory handshakes. Welcoming Team Japan were Rutschman, Kyle Stowers, Cedric Mullins, Tyler Nevin and Richie Martin. For Latin America was Bautista, Austin Voth, Louis Head and third-base coach Tony Mansolino.

Then, some flexes.