When prospects get to Triple-A, skipper Buck Britton is there to show the way

When this baseball season began, Buck Britton, the third-year manager of the Orioles’ Triple-A Norfolk Tides team, was 37. He turned age 38 on May 16, just six days after he recorded his 400th win as a minor league manager.

The Orioles have the No. 1 ranked farm system in the majors and many people have had a hand in that. But to hear some players with the Orioles now that have played for Britton, he is a very big reason why.

His last season as a Triple-A player was in 2016, so he’s young enough to relate to current players, experienced enough to have seen a lot in a seven-season minor league career and savvy enough to know what he doesn’t know or had lesser knowledge of at one time. He brought himself up to speed with the data and analytics in the game and when you put it all together, Britton, as the Birds' Triple-A skipper, has a lot to offer the talented youngsters he works with daily.

“He’s a great manager,” said outfielder Kyle Stowers. “He has a good gauge of what is going on in the clubhouse and what guys need. How to get guys ready to go. He is willing to work with guys. I see him all the time getting in work with the infielders.

“His door is always open for anyone that needs to talk with him. I’ve spent quite some time with him now and really enjoy playing for him.”

Britton has been able to find a good balance of being able to get close with his players, but there is some distance also as he’s their boss and not a peer.

“He is a great father, a great husband and a great family man too. In regard to me, anything he could ever do to make it easier on my family he’s been helpful with. In regards with like my wife joining me on a couple of road trips,” said Stowers.

Britton played parts of four seasons at Norfolk - in 2010 and also from 2012-2014. He knows what it’s like to be close to the majors although while he didn’t get there himself, he has what it takes to help other players reach that goal.

“He is not shorted by any stretch in his knowledge of the game or what you need in the clubhouse because he didn’t play in the big leagues. He’s got a good feel for the game, and he gets it.

“He’s not a peer, right? And that is something he does really well. We respect him. He’s our manager. But we have very good relationships with him and can talk to him about anything at any time, but he’s our leader. It’s not a peer relationship but a good one with someone we really, really respect,” Stowers added.

Britton’s first year in the Baltimore organization was in 2017 as Low-A Delmarva’s hitting coach. He was the Shorebirds manager the next year and moved to Double-A Bowie as Baysox manager in 2019 when he was named Eastern League Manager of the Year. He was with Bowie through 2021 – there was not a minor league season in 2020 – and has been manager at Norfolk since the 2022 season. Twice he led Bowie to the league championship series.

“He is the best. A player’s coach,” said infielder Connor Norby. “He understands his guys. He fights for his guys. He will be honest with you. He’ll be brutally honest with you, but he is also right there to support you the most.”

Norby got off to a hot hitting start this year and then hit a speed bump and said Britton and staff were there to be as he put it, “in the foxhole with me.”

“He was pretty fired up when I got the call up. He loves his players, and the players love him,” Norby said. “He understands it and gets the whole thing. He just knows how much pressure there can be. He knows also how easy it can be to get complacent. When you feel like you are there and about to make it, the game humbles you quick. But he’s the best.”

The Tides have a 196-166 (.541) mark under Britton since the 2022 season.

Norby gave Britton major props for the Tides 90-59 record last season when Norfolk won the International League championship for the first time since 1985. Then the Tides won the Triple-A championship game.

“Oh yeah, absolutely (he gets big credit for that)," he said. "That was the goal when we broke camp with that team. We were on it from pitch one. We really never had a slip up through the year. It was a special team, and he was at the head of it all. None of it happens without him and what he does for his players. He deserved it more than any of us to be honest.

“He’s the best and he’ll have a big league job one day."

The O's Gunnar Henderson played a few games at the end of the 2021 season with Double-A Bowie where Britton was his manager. When he moved up during the 2022 season to Triple-A, Britton was there again for Henderson.

“It was awesome playing for Buck. You enjoyed being around him," Henderson said. The ultimate like players guy and he brings out the best in every player that comes to him. He knows how to mesh with each individual player and meet their needs.

“Triple-A is challenging. You have guys going up and down. Some older guys and some young guys that are young and hungry. Definitely pretty special what he does."

“He just knows how to make you feel right at home no matter where you are or what point you are at in your career. He makes you feel good about yourself. It was really fun to play for him."

Gunnar said it was great to see that Britton recently got win No. 400.

“Huge congrats to him. A testament to the hard work he has put in. I couldn’t be happier for him. Such an awesome individual," he said.

Speaking of awesome: That was the O's play in their first-ever four-game sweep at Tropicana Field, awesome, capped by Monday's 5-2 win. The O's outscored the Rays 25-7 in the series, out-homered them 9-2 and allowed just four earned runs over the four games.

Winning pitcher Corbin Burnes gave up two unearned runs over seven innings to get to 7-2 with a 2.08 ERA. He has nine straight quality starts and is 4-2 with a 1.73 ERA in that span.

The Orioles (43-22) are on a 107-win pace for the year and improved to 17-6 in AL East games and are 14-4 their past 18 games.

They begin a big six-game homestand tonight versus the Atlanta Braves (35-28) and the Philadelphia Phillies (45-20) who have the best record in the majors. 


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