The youth are hurting...They need hugs. They need love. They need support. I’m going to try to give as much as I can because the city needs it.
- Adam Jones
I was lucky enough to be at last Saturday's "lockdown/walk-off" game against the Red Sox. We had family in town and wanted to show off Camden Yards to my father in-law. Police helicopters and riot cops aside, it was an exciting game. A real "every night there's a different star, that's the magic of Orioles baseball" kinda game. And everything going on outside that night was a reminder that every kid, regardless of their zip code, should get a chance to see a team with their city's name across their chests rally to beat our bigger, wealthier, fancier neighbors from the north.
Baltimore has had a tumultuous couple of weeks. Many neighborhoods have really had a pretty bad run the past four decades or so, which contributes to the situation we find ourselves in today. But kids across the city have had an especially scary and confusing time lately. They saw tensions with police boil over into riots in their neighborhoods, missed out on the breakfasts and lunches about 84% of them rely on at school everyday, and woke up to soldiers and news cameras on their stoops for a week. Whatever minor inconveniences we suffered that night being locked in Camden Yards (the game wasn't even over yet!) pales in comparison.
Like anyone else who was a ticket holder on April 25, I got an email from the Orioles with instructions on how to claim complimentary tickets due to the "inconveniences" of that night. Normally, I'd be all over this. What's better than free baseball? But my family is happy to give the Orioles more of our money any time, especially considering how gracefully they have supported the city through this difficult time, and we recognize that we were privileged enough to buy these tickets to begin with, when so many are not. So, we're donating our tickets to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Baltimore. I want to see these tickets in the hands of those same kids that missed out on meals last week and would never get the chance to see a game otherwise.
Baseball can be a great unifying experience, even for cities with divisions and differences as stark as Baltimore's. And as Adam Jones said the other day, kids in Baltimore right now need to know we have their backs, and they need some love and support. Baltimore is trying to heal right now, and this is one small, tangible thing we can do to help. It won't solve any of the bigger challenges these kids face, but it's a piece of the Baltimore experience we can share.
So, if you want to pay it forward and donate tickets, you can contact the Orioles at 888-848-BIRD and ask to donate your tickets to Boys & Girls Clubs (or any other charity of your choice) and they will both arrange it and give you any info you need for a a charitable tax deduction. You can also contact the Boys & Girls Clubs of Baltimore directly at (410) 637-3838.
I'm in touch with Red Sox bloggers as well, since so many fans there that night were wearing red and blue and came from out of town. Why sell these free tickets on StubHub when you can give them to a kid who needs some support right now?
If you weren't at the game in question, please consider donating a few bucks or tickets to support the many charities struggling to keep pace with the work of healing Baltimore right now. They are overwhelmed. You can also spread the word on the twitters with #OsTix4Kids
Update: As fearless leader Mark wisely points out, this idea also works if you are a ticket holder for any of the canceled games that have yet to be rescheduled. You can donate those tickets through the same channels.
Go O's. Go Baltimore.