Last year's Shorebirds pitcher Hunter Harvey.
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AUTHOR’S NOTE: Although most of you know me as Nate, Ocean City’s wacky entertainment columnist, I must admit I am living a double life. When I’m not slamming away on my keyboard, I work for the front office of the Delmarva Shorebirds. Even though I am currently employed by the organization that is the subject of this article, you have my word that this team is every bit of fun as it sounds.
It’s hard to believe they’ve been here for so long, but the Delmarva Shorebirds are celebrating two decades of big plays, exciting promotions and family fun on the Eastern Shore. The front office staff of the Single-A minor league baseball team located just off Route 50 in Salisbury has been working hard all offseason promoting the 20th anniversary season, and they are looking for all fans to come out and support their favorite team on the shore. The team will officially begin its special season in an Opening Night home game at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium against the Greensboro Grasshoppers this Thursday, April 9 at 7:05 p.m.
For those who haven’t been following the team closely, I’d like to give you a brief history of the team and their accomplishments over the past twenty years. In 1996, the Albany Polecats minor league baseball team moved from Georgia to Salisbury, Maryland after being sold in the offseason. The organization let locals vote for submitted team name suggestions, and then-7-year-old Katie Duffy’s entry of the Shorebirds won by a wide margin. Since their inaugural 1996 season, the Baltimore Orioles affiliate has won the South Atlantic League twice, in 1997 and 2000. The team also had the honor of hosting the South Atlantic League All-Star Game in 2011.
There are several notable players of the79 athletes who donned a Shorebirds jersey on their way to playing major league baseball. Two members of the Shorebirds’ first team in 1996 made a name for themselves in the majors. Pitcher Javier Vazquez was named an MLB All-Star in 2004, while in that same year, shortstop Orlando Cabrera helped the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series in 86 years. From the 1998 squad, outfielder Jayson Werth won the World Series with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 and was an All-Star in 2009. Long-time Orioles second baseman and two-time All-Star Brian Roberts played for the Shorebirds in 1999. Although now with the Atlanta Braves; another long-time Orioles fan favorite, outfielder Nick Markakis, played in Delmarva in 2004. Most recently, third baseman and rising star Manny Machado, who was voted an All-Star during his second season in the majors in 2013, played for the Shorebirds in 2011.
No team is complete without its manager, and this guy deserves his own section. Delmarva Shorebirds Manager Ryan Minor has been part of the organization for seven total years. As a player for the Shorebirds in 1997, Minor still holds the record for RBIs (97) and doubles (42) in a single season. He also held the record for hits in a single season (150) for almost the entire existence of the Shorebirds, until third baseman Drew Dosch broke the record (157) just last year. Minor made his major league debut for the Orioles in 1998 and famously filled in for Cal Ripken Jr. one game that season, which marked the end of the Baltimore legend’s consecutive game streak. After Minor’s MLB career, he played for a handful of teams in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball from 2002-2005. As a coach, Minor returned to the Shorebirds in 2008 as the team’s pitching coach for two seasons, and managed the team from 2010-2012. Following a one-season stint as the Frederick Keys manager in 2013, Minor again came back to the Shorebirds last year to manage the team, and he remains in that role.
Last season, players like pitcher Hunter Harvey and outfielder Mike Yastrzemski dazzled fans, but their success has awarded them the opportunity to play in other tougher leagues. If their talent is any hint of the new players joining this season, I can’t wait to see the faces of the franchise this year.
If you haven’t been out to Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, you’re missing out on a great time. Not only is there great baseball to watch all summer, but there is plenty of entertainment at the stadium. A carousel is located inside the stadium, giving children a nice break from the action, fireworks shows are held on select nights, and there are several sections around the stadium where groups – whether it’s friends, family, co-workers or all of the above – can have their own private area to eat, drink and be merry. Combining this with between-inning entertainment and inexpensive ticket prices, Shorebirds games are a great way to have a fun outing. And if you’re a loyal fan, this is the same great Shorebirds baseball you’ve grown to love. The Shorebirds’ front office staff is working their butts off to make this season a huge success and we would like for you and all of our fans throughout the years to come out and support the team for this special season and have a great time!