For many people, the weekends are to enjoy time off after a long week of school or work. For us working in baseball, some offseason weekends are spent at events in the area to promote the team in different ways. This weekend was a very special event, 2011 Orioles Fan Fest. All staff had to attend for a two hour shift.
The preparation for Fan Fest was well underway last week as fliers were printed and schedules were packed. Everything was ready to go on Friday night for the event. The early bird shift, before the fans entered the convention center in Baltimore, was from 8-10 to set up the table and to make things look good. I arrived with two other from the Keys staff around 10. The three of us made a frosty walk from the parking lot to the Baltimore Convention Center through groups of O’s fans everywhere. The first shift with fan interaction started at 10am. For the Keys, Fan Fest is used to interact with Orioles fans from all over to talk baseball, sell ticket plans and to support the major league affilate. People of all ages attended fan fest as players addressed the crowd, long lines formed for free giveaways and mascots roamed the floors. One of the Fan Fest highlights for us was while Keyote was mingling with fans.
Two guys in their mid-20s came through the entrance to Fan Fest to find Keyote walking around. They went nuts and started shaking their keys. “Oh my god! It’s Keyote, I can’t believe it!!!,” they screamed. One of them unzipped his jacket halfway and pulled out a Keys baseball with the logo from 10 years ago on it. “Dude! Keyote, you need to sign this ball man! Do it man!” Keyote got the ball to sign and throughout this whole encounter, these guys were dancing, shaking their keys and everything. After Keyote signed the ball, the other guy took out a collector’s baseball cube. “Keyote, put the ball in the cube!” Keyote put his signed ball in the cube and they closed it and held it to the skies like it was the holy grail. After they finished worshipping the autograph, the first guy looked at Keyote and said, “Keyote, can you shove this cube in my chest?” Flustered with what to do, Keyote took the cube with his signed ball and put it against the guy’s chest. Right when it touched him, he acted as if the ball was jumpstarting his heart. It was an absolutely absurd moment but showed the passion that some people have for Keyote and the Keys. Keyote’s escort, Adam Pohl (Dir. of Marketing & Public Relations), told them he would have loved to have gotten this whole thing on video and they looked at him and said “Dude, it’s all up here,” as they pointed to their heads.
Keyote was a huge hit. He took many pictures and signed a lot of memorabilia. He even makes an appearance in the Baltimore Sun Fan Fest Highlight video which can be found by clicking here!
While some of the Keys staff was busy at the table, Branden McGee (Asst. GM) and Paul Denillo (Creative Production Manager), were in the media area talking to former Keys players including Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters and others. The interview session included a “This or That” section where the players decided between two options of specific questions. The video is currently being made and should be live on the Keys website by the end of the week!
O’s Fan Fest this year was definitely a success for the Keys and an even bigger success for the Orioles who are working to become healthy competition in the stacked AL East. With a fan base this large and hungry for a winning team, it is only a matter of time before Baltimore becomes one of the powerhouses in baseball again.
It’s about that time of year when baseball fans itch for the beginning of spring training. Countdowns begin to emerge for the reporting dates for pitchers and catchers and of course, the first game of the spring. While many fans eagerly await the excitment of spring baseball, those who work within the minor league system are preparing for another season filled with wacky promotions, long work days and the fun, family atmosphere involved with it all.
My name is Brandon Apter and I am the Promotions Manager for the Frederick Keys, Advanced ‘A’ Affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. I started working here in November this past year after working two seasons in minor league baseball prior. I am hoping that this blog gives not only Keys fans a chance to see how we operate, but for baseball fans everywhere. I will be posting every few days about how community appearances work in the offseason, updates as players arrive, and the craziness of a game day when they arrive. This time of the year is known to be a slow time but January is when everything picks up for this industry
The weather here in the northeast is kind to kids. Snow = no school for most here in Maryland but it is just another day at work for everyone here. Outgoing sales calls, incoming donation requests and sponsorships are in full swing at this time of year. For myself, planning a lot of community appearances takes up a lot of time. The Keys are in the midst of kicking off another year of the Keys for Reading Program which covers schools in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Students who participate receive a bookmark and have to read four books within a two month period. When they turn in their bookmark with the completed books listed, they receive a free ticket to a game here at Harry Grove Stadium. My job along with Marketing Assistant, Bridget McCabe, is to travel to these schools with our mascot, Keyote, to get kids excited about baseball and most importantly, reading. This part of minor league baseball is one many people do not see. Community outreach and getting out there to get kids more amped to read is a very rewarding process for all involved.
These appearances are highlighted by us going to these schools and telling the students about this program and then having our mascot act out the book “Casey at the Bat” for them. It shows kids that reading can be fun and if you use your imagination, it can be used to achieve many things. One of the biggest rewards of going to these schools is seeing that you are indeed making a difference to the younger generation.
The Keys for Reading program is only one aspect of community outreach that we do and as we do them, I hope to inform everyone on how they work. One of the best parts of working in baseball is the reward of seeing a kid smiling at his first game and the satisfaction of the fans. I want to show you how all of that is done!
Stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks!….Oh, only 75 days until Opening Day here at Harry Grove Stadium! Keyote is ready, are you?