The regular season has begun, meaning the Orioles have made their way out of their spring home in sunny Sarasota. While the players are leaving Florida, the club will continue to have a very strong presence at Ed Smith Stadium, the spring home of the Orioles, and beyond the gates.
The O's impact began in the seats. Many fans were able to escape the cold Maryland weather to enjoy sunny Sarasota and Ed Smith Stadium. A total of 112,258 fans attended the O's 15 home games this spring, for an average of 7,484 fans per game. This number is a new franchise record, breaking the old mark of 7,454 set last season.
These Orioles fans helped contribute to a number of community outreach events on game days at the stadium. The Orioles hosted a food collection drive and fundraiser to benefit All Faiths Food Bank, and fans helped raise more than $7,900 for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens through a game-worn cap auction.
Through its OriolesREACH community outreach initiative and Sarasota 365 commitment, the Orioles also helped bring awareness to many other local organizations, including: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Epilepsy Services of Southwest Florida, Pines of Sarasota, Sarasota Audubon Society, Sarasota County, Sarasota County Libraries, Sarasota Family YMCA, Sarasota Sheriff's Animal Services, T-Rec Coalition of Sarasota County and Tidewell Hospice.
"The Orioles deeply value the relationships we've developed with community-based organizations, and we look forward to expanding opportunities to give back to the Sarasota area," said David Rovine, vice president of Orioles-Sarasota.
The Orioles also focused on the Sarasota youth at various events, including a parade of hundreds of adolescent baseball players during Youth Baseball Day. They also hosted Kids Run the Bases Day and Big League Reader Day, in partnership with Sarasota County Library, which awarded 75 area youth with a game ticket for reaching at least three books.
You can read more about the program in Gary Thorne's "Hitting the Books" blog, and be sure to check out the video below.
In addition, OriolesREACH continued their support for the Miracle League of Manasota, which gives those with special needs the opportunity to play baseball. Off the field and on the links, the Birdland Golf Classic charity golf outing has raised more than $165,000 to support the league.
Even though the regular season is under way, the fun and festivities are still going strong in Sarasota. The Orioles will again host baseball clinics for selected youth organizations this spring and fall. The club is also bringing back the popular "Arts in the Ballpark" event series.
On May 9, the Orioles will host the Sarasota Orchestra's Orchestra in the Outfield pops concert with vocalist Syesha Mercado at Ed Smith Stadium.
For more information on the O's commitment to Sarasota and to read more on "Arts in the Ballpark" events, visit orioles.com/sarasota. For information on last year's "Arts in the Ballpark," which featured performances by Grammy-Award winning artists America and singer/songwriter Margaret Valentine, click here.