I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am a huge fan of the Baltimore Orioles. As with most kids growing up in the Baltimore area, this love was ingrained in me as a young child, where I learned the joys of Oriole Magic by attending games in Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, and watching a few of our iconic players like Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken, Jr.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
That adoration of my beloved Orioles endured through adulthood, even when they were in the midst of a prolonged losing streak between 1998-2011. I would proudly declare them as my baseball team and cheer loudly when they would win – although I have to admit, as the years went on when they would lose a game, what was once a string of expletives turned into a resigned sigh and a head shake. And then 2012 happened with the Baltimore Orioles not only having a winning season, but also a return to the post-season! It was such a huge moment, not just for Baltimore, but for the fans who had been waiting 15 years to enjoy baseball in October.
My support of the Baltimore Orioles extends beyond attending the games decked out in orange & black and shouting “O!” during the National Anthem. Through a post on Facebook, I learned that on May 18 before their game against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Orioles would be holding a fundraising event for Shannon’s Fund. As described on the Baltimore Orioles’ website:
Created in memory of Shannon Obaker – the team’s Director of Community Outreach who bravely fought cancer for over a year before passing away in 2007 at age 29 – Shannon’s Fund is administered by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Funds are donated to patients and their family members as need arises to assist with the general expenses associated with the treatment process, including hospital parking, alternate housing, food costs and household bills.
By purchasing tickets for the event, my husband and I received tickets to the game, a small gift bag, food and beverages, the opportunity to watch the pre-game batting practice and the chance to meet a current member of the Baltimore Orioles as well as several former players. One of those former players? BRADY ANDERSON. The Brady Anderson who has had the most home runs by any Baltimore Orioles in one season (50), and is now the Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Orioles. After Cal Ripken, Jr., Brady was my favorite member of the Orioles while I was growing up, and I knew there was no way I could turn up the chance to get to meet him!
At 1:45 PM, we entered through the warehouse Fan Assistance entrance, where our tickets were scanned and we entered the stadium and we directed towards the rooftop deck. Scott and I snagged two stools facing center field and enjoyed the food and drinks that were offered, particularly the spring rolls and the coconut shrimp!
The first player we met was the sole current player who would be visiting with us that afternoon, Wei-Yin Chen. He doesn’t speak much English so we did not have a lengthy conversation, but I told him how much I was enjoying his pitching so far this season and that I hoped he was taken off the DL soon.
Over the next two hours, I was able to meet Mike Bordick (shortstop, 1997-2000, 2001-2002), Dave Johnson (pitcher, 1989-1991) and Boog Powell (first base, 1961-1974). I had a lot of fun chatting with each of them, but particularly with Boog, as I had actually come close to meeting him several times when I was younger; he and I both went to the same orthodontist in the mid-90s and his appointments were always scheduled immediately before mine.
As the clock ticked down towards game time, I kept wondering when and if Brady was to be making an appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I still would have left thinking that this was an amazing event for a wonderful cause and been incredibly happy about my decision to attend. But…I WANTED TO MEET BRADY ANDERSON.
I started talking with another girl who was about my age and also had purchased tickets primarily to meet Brady. We were both staking out the entrance to the rooftop deck so that there would be no possibility for us to miss him after he arrived! However, I was starting to lose hope that Brady would be joining us that day.
As I went to get a some water, I heard Scott say, “That girl you were talking to just rushed over to someone.” I stopped dead in my tracks, scanned the crowd to find her and BOOM! THERE HE WAS! BRADY ANDERSON WAS IN OUR PRESENCE!
Once I was face to face with Brady, I made my best efforts to keep my inner Liz Lemon in check, and fortunately none of the words I used were made up combinations or random sounds. Let’s be honest, I was lucky to be able to form any kind of sound, as I was completely star struck. I’m know I hugged him and I’m pretty sure I told him that he was one of my favorite baseball players that I’ve had the privilege to see play in person, but who knows what else came out of my mouth. Fortunately, whatever I may have said didn’t scare him off, and I was able to get photographic proof that this meeting happened.
I am so grateful to the Baltimore Orioles for not only facilitating an event like this for their fans, but also donating the proceeds to such a great cause. I’m already looking forward to purchasing my tickets for this event next year!