Chad Myers' dream was hatched watching the excitement of Orioles opening day in April reach a fever pitch on social media platforms.
"I was looking at my social media stuff and seeing people leaving work early and getting tickets to the sold-out opener and I wondered, 'Why can't we recreate the atmosphere of opening day?' The sellout crowd, the hype, the people getting to their seats early instead of in the second inning - those shouldn't only happen on opening day," Myers said.
At 30, the father of three from Havre de Grace has positive memories of when Camden Yards was routinely packed to the rafters, when tickets to an O's game were a hot commodity, when Yankees and Red Sox fans had trouble getting ducats to a game.
Myers thought about his kids, and how he wished they could experience the same baseball joy he did growing up an O's fan in Essex - and "Operation Orange: Pack the Yard" was born.
"Look, I know all about what people will say about the 13 straight losing seasons, but when you're a little kid, none of that matters," explained Myers, a supervisor at Verizon. "You want to go to the game, see the Oriole Bird, do all the cheers and chants - that kind of stuff. I want my kids to go to an Orioles game and see a fully packed stadium and have that experience."
But Operation Orange - a drive to fill Camden Yards with fervent fans sporting O's colors - isn't your father's grassroots effort.
Myers has honed his social media skills, combined with some appearances on local radio sportstalk shows, to create a community of like-minded fans. Without much effort, the Operation Orange Facebook page culled some 540 fans in no time. After a couple of radio interviews, the number swelled to 850 within two days, which told Myers he was on to something. He's now at 1,100 likes and counting. Twitter, LinkedIn, CraigsList, blogs - he's left no stone unturned to get his message out. Myers even uses old-fashioned techniques like handout out fliers to fans departing Camden Yards.
Myers inquired through a neighbor who works for the Maryland Stadium Authority about getting the Orioles on board with Operation Orange and was put in touch with Greg Bader, the club's director of communications, and Niel Aloise, the team's director of sales and fan services. They helped Myers arrange a June 3 Operation Orange event, utilizing the normal group discount rates, and the success of that try has Myers hoping to do even better the next time around. Unlike some groups that use ticket sales as a fundraiser, Myers makes no money off the transaction, just the satisfaction that he's putting another hometown fan in a green seat at his favorite ballpark.
The next Operation Orange night is scheduled for Friday, July 15 against the Cleveland Indians. Myers hope the deep discounts the team has arranged for his ticket-buyer will entice more fans to show up. By using the promo code ORANGE when buying tickets online, fans can get some pretty nice bargains: left field box seats, which usually cost $30, are only $20; $17 lower reserved seats can be bought for $10; $17 upper reserved seats are only $8.
"It's Friday night, it's Student Night and it's a Fireworks Night," said Myers, "so we have that going for us. It's looking pretty good. If we can get tickets cheaper than anywhere else, it'll be a big feature that will really draw people."