It’s safe to say that the 2019 season wasn’t exactly what the Baltimore Orioles had in mind.
They compiled a 54-108 record, which only trailed the Detroit Tigers for the MLB’s worst record. With that in mind, Orioles director of public relations Kristen Hudak had an idea of how the team could still show the fanbase that they appreciated their support all season.
Hudak had several of the team’s players write messages to season ticket holders, but only mentioned that the players should write a brief “thank you.” Many players, though, wrote a little bit more than “thank you.”
For instance, pitcher Tanner Scott wrote this message to a season ticket holder named Bill, admitting that the team has work to do moving forward: “We thank you for the support this year. This season has been a growing year for all of us and we are going to continue to work hard to achieve success for us as a team and for you as the fans who support us. #Birdland. Thank you, Tanner Scott.”
Prior to handing out the cards to write the messages on, Hudak did speak with veteran first baseman Chris Davis about the idea. Davis was in full support of the gesture and the team’s fan services department selected random season ticket holders that would receive the thank you notes.
“I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be,” Hudak said. “The guys that I spoke to about it were immediately supportive. I saw many of them sit down and start writing right away. It felt like they had something on their minds or something they wanted to say and that was an opportunity for them to do it in a heartfelt way. And then, when I started to collect them, I was just really touched and moved by their answers and the time that they took to be thoughtful.”
Based on the team’s on-field performance, they assumed that fans may not be in the best of spirits after what they witnessed throughout the 162-game schedule.
“Before I started playing professional baseball, I was a fan… and I hated seeing my team lose. Whether it was a close game or a blowout, whatever it may be, I was a fan and so I understand Orioles’ fans’ situation,” third baseman Rio Ruiz said. “We don’t like losing. But there’s been something about this whole year that’s been positive. And it just all started in the clubhouse. If we can reiterate that to the fans, I think it kind of gives them a perspective and a better outlook on what’s to come.”
The Orioles do have one of the youngest rosters in the majors with an average age of 26 and no player older than 33. The team is in the midst of a rebuilding phase after trading star third baseman Manny Machado during the 2018 season and fielded a very youthful and inexperienced lineup this past campaign.