Note: I would just submit this directly to the people I typically deal with at the Orioles, but since I can’t get a return e-mail or a return text message over the last three days, I’ll just make it a public offering of support and the O’s don’t need to worry about getting back to me.
To Whom It May Concern:
Congratulations on your fine start to the 2007 season. The 0-3 trip to Minnesota aside (and don’t worry about that, a lot of teams will go 0-3 in Minnesota this season), the ballclub looks to be much-improved over last year’s team and the off-season acquisitions – particularly the newcomers in the bullpen – appear to be wise investments. Off topic for a seccond, this brief bit of baseball discussion would be something I’d love to share with Mike Flanagan or Jim Duquette if they were allowed to appear as a guest on my show at WNST – The Comcast Morning Show…but for some reason the powers-that-be would rather NOT have the listeners and fans of the team learn more about the club by having their GM(s) on the air with me. But, on to the real reason I’m writing today.
Following today’s game in Tampa Bay, the team will return to Baltimore (I assume arriving sometime tonight around 9-10pm) and embark on a 7-game homestand that includes three games with Toronto and two, next week, against Oakland and Boston. That means the team is going to be “home” – in Baltimore – for 7 straight days.
Here’s my suggestion. With an off-day scheduled for Thursday, why not kick-off a week called “baseball blitz” in which your players and coaches literally BLITZ the Baltimore metro area with personal appearances that give area baseball fans a chance to meet their local heroes. Now, I know what you’re going to say (and so will the players, most likely)…”But Drew, we just had FanFest, for this specific reason. We had 15,000 people at the stadium on April 1 to meet the players and get autographs and such.”
This would be different. This would be something the club will do FOR FREE (remember, you actually charged people for FanFest).
I realize there will be some resistance from the players. Anytime you have to disrupt their daily routine, it’s an issue. But if you would organize a quick team meeting and make them understand the importance of this early part of the season, you might just convince them it would be worth two hours of their time. Remind the players that attendance is down over the last few years. Remind the players, while it’s not their fault entirely that Baltimore hasn’t seen a .500 season on the field since 1997, there has not been a lot to get excited about in these parts over the last decade. This year, and we all recognize it’s still early, could be different. This current team might be an 85-90 win team. How about taking advantage of that optimism and making a concerted effort over the next week to get out and spread the “baseball gospel” around town.
Since I know you all are busy over there, I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a schedule for the next week. You will see that this in no way taxes a majority of the players on any given day and gives people all over the community a chance to meet the players in a setting that doesn’t require an admission fee, pre-payment for autographs, etc. This is – for lack of a better term – a return to the “old days” when the players were out and about all the time, meeting the fans and letting the people who pay their salaries “rub elbows” with their heroes.
Here’s the schedule I’ve put together. Feel free to use it as you wish. And, by the way, you don’t need my permission to use it. I’m giving you permission right here and now. I now know “permission” is important when dealing with promotions and such. You have my permission to take this schedule and use it.
Thursday, 5-7pm — Brian Roberts at Towson Town Center, Melvin Mora at Harford Mall, Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker (let the new guys go out together) at Marley Station Mall, Aubrey Huff and Paul Bako at White Marsh Mall.
Friday, 12 noon-2pm (on your way to the ballpark…just stop by and say “hi”) — Kevin Millar, Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard at Harborplace Ampitheatre – it’s gonna be a nice spring day on Friday, how cool would it be to have a table set up right there in the middle of Harborplace during lunch-time to give fans a chance to meet three of the team’s biggest stars? I’d say REALLY cool.
Saturday, 12 noon-2pm (again, on your way to the ballpark) — Have an intern make a dozen phone calls on Friday and find out where the local youth lacrosse and little games are being played on Saturday and have the intern take Nick Markakis and Chris Ray out to those fields for a couple of hours of hand-shaking, baby-kissing and maybe, just maybe, ticket selling.
Repeat this process next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday…with different players. You might even send out the manager, pitching coach, hitting coach, etc. Make them all understand that EVERYONE is responsible for helping to put fans in the stands. And make all of the players and coaches understand that it’s very important for them to SMILE and say “Look forward to seeing you at the ballpark this spring” when you meet people in public.
By the way, the malls would LOVE to have you. Don’t worry about the short notice. Just call the Marketing Director of the respective malls I’ve listed and they’d welcome you with open arms. Same with the little leagues and lacrosse leagues. Call the President of the respective leagues and tell them “an Orioles player or two are stopping by the fields on Saturday”…they’d do flips to have you come out and make their Saturday more enjoyable.
Publicize the appearances on your Orioles.com web-site and on your radio and TV broadcasts over the next week.
Here’s a tip – call the local radio talk shows and let THEM know what you’re doing – they might even be willing to help promote the events and the player appearances.
Take advantage of this good, early season start and try to physically bring people back into the ballpark. The fans are out there somewhere. But they need to be led back by hand, almost.
I live near White Marsh Mall…let me know if Huff and Bako get scheduled and I’ll come out and say “hi” myself. I actually bought 20 tickets to the May 8th game already. Who knows? If I meet a couple of players at the local mall, I might even be inspired to buy more tickets between now and October.
Drew Forrester, WNST Radio