For Adam Jones, the difference was obvious when he walked into the Baltimore Convention Center for Saturday’s FanFest.
“There were long lines wrapped around this building, and this building is huge,” Jones said.
The Orioles reported a record crowd of more than 18,000 double last year’s attendance.
“It’s hectic. It’s chaotic, which is a necessary evil. It’s a good thing because now we have to do it again,” Jones said.
FanFest was mostly celebratory, but in some ways sad because of the death of Earl Weaver.
“It’s a sad day for anyone involved with the Orioles,” Jim Palmer said. “We were lucky to have him here and we all share the pain of having him gone.”
Manager Buck Showalter was reflective about the death of his mentor.
“There’s a lot of emotion in the building today,” Showalter said.
“I think everybody’s trying to collect their thoughts and feelings.
He meant so much to so many people. They called him the “Earl of
Baltimore. There was a real connection.”
Most fans and players were thinking about the reaction they’ve received.
Matt Wieters has been getting lots more attention as he travels around town.
“It’s not as much: ‘we’re going to get them this year, right?’ It’s ‘great season last year, now let’s go.’ You get a little bit of a compliment first as opposed to: ‘let’s not worry about what we did last year,” Wieters said.
“There are more people here than I’ve ever seen before.”
Jim Johnson is one of the most senior players on the Orioles, and he’s noticed the enthusiasm for both the Orioles and Ravens.
“This time of year, Baltimore’s doing their thing in the playoffs, the Ravens,” Johnson said
“You see a lot of purple. It’s pretty crazy to see this town supporting both teams to some degree. It’s great to see how the city responds to both teams.”
Nick Markakis is one of the few Orioles who lives in Baltimore all season.
“The atmosphere in the city and the community and the state itself, it’s awesome,” Markakis said. “We’re bringing back baseball, to not quite where it used to be, but close.”
Linda Lutz of Baltimore was attending her first FanFest with her daughter, Melissa.
“They had a great season last year, and I was anxious just to get here,” Lutz said.
Melissa Lutz was attending her third FanFest.
“It’s a lot more crowded. A LOT more crowded,” she said.
Her aim was simple: “Getting back to the park. It’s really nice to watch the games with my mother.”