On Saturday, the Baltimore Orioles once again held their annual FanFest. Unlike in previous years, where the organization sold hope, promises and wanted fans to look forward to the future with blinders, the mood was different.
According to the Orioles, more than 18,000 fans flocked to the Baltimore Convention for this year’s rendition. That set an all-time record for the event, and the success of the team has re-energized Birdland. I had a feeling that FanFest was going to more popular than ever in 2013 just based on the long lines of fans that I saw walking down Conway Street from the stadium at 8:45 in the morning.
The fact that so many fans came out to celebrate the Orioles; especially considering the Baltimore Ravens played the following day against the New England Patriots is a testament of what happens when a team wins. Everyone – fans, players and executives alike – was impressed by the amount of people who came out on Saturday.
However, FanFest started out on a somber note as word spread that former Oriole manager and Hall of Famer Earl Weaver passed away at 82 on Friday night. Much of the day was spent honoring number four (the number Weaver wore), and in the press area, players, team executives and others reminisced about him.
It was a shock when I heard about it. Like I said this weekend in another post, it is always sad to hear someone of Weaver’s statue pass away.
One never thinks an icon like him would die so suddenly; alas, he was 82, and had lived a full life. He reached places in the sport of baseball – and in the hearts of fans – that few, if any, ever reach.
I once again worked as “media” this year; however, I did take a moment to walk around, meet up with old friends, and take in the overflowing amount of humanity that dressed up in black and orange.
It was gratifying to come out to FanFest with the Orioles off a winning season, rather than a losing one. Just walking around the floor of the convention center, people were sincerely glad to be there and pumped.
Yes, the event has always drawn fans – even in the lean years; however, I was surprised to have seen the sheer amount of players who took part on Saturday. They are obviously still basking in their playoff run last season and almost all them seem have loved being part of the event, rather than it being a chore. The players have a job to do in the upcoming weeks down in Sarasota, but FanFest gave them a chance to look back at a wonderful run in 2012 and share it with the public at large.
Much like last year, I’ll try to post some of the Q&A’s that I was able to get; however, I have try to parse through hours and hours of recordings.