Tap-In Question: What are the best and worst promotional giveaways in Orioles' history? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: What are the best and worst promotional giveaways in Orioles’ history?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Sometimes, silly is good.

Sometimes, sticking with a pattern is good.

And sometimes you get toward the end of an offseason and you just don’t feel like writing the same thing again – or striking up the same old conversation at the bar.

This, inadvertently, was “greatest week” at BaltimoreBaseball.com.  In the last few days, I’ve offered my opinion on greatest radio announcers in Orioles’ history and made you come to the bar and debate who is the Greatest Of All Time in the annals of Baltimore sports.

So, I’m sort of, kind of going back to the well again, at least tapping in – pun intended – to the “greatest” thing. Even though today’s subject matter is highly insignificant.

On Thursday, the Orioles announced their promotional schedule for 2017. It includes bobbleheads of Zach Britton and Jonathan Schoop, a Manny Machado Starting Lineup figure, a scaled-down replica of Camden Yards, an O’s welcome mat and various caps and T-shirts.

People love free stuff. And it’s amazing how many people will show up at Camden Yards for a T-shirt or a floppy hat. I’d criticize that motivation, but, frankly, I loved those promotions as a kid – and I still think some of the giveaways at Camden Yards these days are pretty enticing.

The Showalter Gnome was genius; the replica statues truly were collectibles and I’m a fan of the O’s golf umbrella. There’s always one of those in my car trunk.

Sure, some giveaways haven’t worked out. That “newsboy cap” last year was terrible; it only fit those with gnome-sized heads. And the first fedora they gave out a few years ago seemingly was made of construction paper. And let’s not forget the bluish-purple Brian Roberts bobbleheads that were nixed before the promotion occurred, or those seat cushions that became projectiles to protest umpiring decisions at Memorial Stadium.


My favorite giveaway of all-time were those black, wooden bats the Orioles presented in the 1970s. Times have changed. I’m not sure the Orioles would sign off on giving away weapons these days, but at age 8, nothing was cooler than Bat Day.

Well, I guess Halter Top Day back in the 1970s would rival it – and that one is even less likely than Bat Day to return. When I first mentioned the giveaway halter tops in a piece I had written several years ago, I remember the Orioles’ late Public Relations Director, Monica Barlow, asking if I were joking. When I said, “No, your organization really gave out orange bra-like tops to women once a year,” she was aghast, to put it mildly. I still laugh when I think of her reaction.

So, there have been some good, some bad and some bizarre. Let’s discuss this not-so-hot topic today over a cold beer.

Tap-In Question: What’s the best and worst Orioles’ promotional giveaways in club history?



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 10, 2017 at 7:40 am

    C’mon Dan. This is the biggest softball you’ve ever thrown out there. Unequivocally, and with all due respects to Samson, the worst just HAS to be the Crush Davis Bobblehead from hell. Bad Juju begone!

    As far as the best, I have no idea. I haven’t received too awfully many from the O’s. (though I think I would have loved a floppy hat or fedora) The bobbleheads are generally great, that is when the subject isn’t wearing tights, but my personal favorite was a simple “Welcome to October” towel given out at the infamous Delmon Young double playoff game vs. the Tigers a couple years ago. (does that qualify as a promotion?)

    Hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. Hows about another fake Boh this fine Friday morning? Hic!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 10, 2017 at 8:00 am

      Just noticed the picture at the top of the article shows the “Welcome to October” towels. Cool beans.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 8:52 am

      I knew you’d be all over this one. And your distaste for the Crush Davis bobblehead may come up :). Nice observation skills on the picture. Best one I could find that featured a couple different giveaways.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 10, 2017 at 11:22 am

        One other observation. The fellow prominently displayed in the picture with the Sunglasses and necktie on … reaching higher than the rest of the crowd …. I’ve noticed him countless times sitting behind the dugout in the front row or two during TV broadcasts. (isn’t HD wonderful?) I was wondering if you, or any of your readers are acquainted with him? Is he some sort of Superfan or perhaps associated with the team somehow? I can’t be the only one to have noticed this man so often. Even saw him IN Detroit during the playoffs in ’14. It vexes me.

        Anybody? Who IS this man? He’s my hero. (well, after Boog, Brooks, Frank and Cakes of course)

        • Paul Folkemer

          February 11, 2017 at 10:40 am

          Boog– the sunglass guy is a real estate agent, known as The Sunglass Guy (appropriately enough). https://twitter.com/OsSunglassGuy

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            February 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm

            Thanks Paul. I guess I’m a little old to twit. But my curiosity is now sated.

  2. DutchDinger

    February 10, 2017 at 7:45 am

    I think the best is the O’s Hawaiian shirt. Unfortunately I don’t have one, so if anyone wants to get rid of their XL version you can DM me on Twitter @dutchdinger.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 8:54 am

      I forgot about the Hawaiian shirt. That was pretty cool. My brother-in-law, who never asks for anything, really wanted that shirt. I think he might still wear it.

      • DutchDinger

        February 10, 2017 at 9:05 am

        The reason that is the best is whenever you see O’s fans at away games, at least one person has that shirt on. Other spectators have no clue about the shirt’s origins, but when we that at home on tv we know it is a subtle wink to fellow fans.

  3. brooks.pryor

    February 10, 2017 at 8:18 am

    I remember as a kid the getting a full size bat that was pretty cool. I have to say though the best giveaways in my opinion were the replica statues during the 2012 season of Cal, Eddie, Frank, Brooks, Jim and Earl. They are true collectables and look great on my shelf. The clothing items have gotten better the last few years with some nice sweatshirts. The newsboy hat was pretty bad, and it would be nice if they offered large size options instead of medium and XL only. I do wish they would offer more bobbleheads like the Nationals do.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Bat Day was Christmas at Memorial Stadium. And those replica statues have to be the best in recent memory.

      • Raveonjo

        February 10, 2017 at 9:36 pm

        Bat Day ..Yes! July 4, 1968 was my first ballgame ever. It was bat day. I carried that bat all around Highlandtown and Patterson Park playing pick-up games for the next several summers. I must’ve logged 1,000 at bats with that give-away.

    • mqm

      February 10, 2017 at 12:50 pm

      Good call. No doubt in my mind, full size bats were the best.

  4. rebusgadfly

    February 10, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Gotta say, the ultimate giveaway was the final fireworks show after an Oriole game at Memorial Stadium when they had fireworks shooting out of the stadium lights ala in The Natural! 98 Rock put the whole show to music. I thought the stadium was going to crumble to the ground after the show. The fireworks were so intense the entire upper level where I was sitting was shaking and vibrating. I thought they had begun the demolition process early. I believe the gentleman who blew up Memorial Stadium was known as the Great Zamboni! (perfect name to be in the fireworks business). I was there with my late brother in law and we were loosing our minds.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      That’s not something I remember. But it sounds tremendous.

  5. Teejay

    February 10, 2017 at 10:13 am

    As I look around my man cave at all the giveaways over the years I see replica statues of the Oriole legends they gave out in 2012, they were pretty cool. I see bobbleheads, gnomes, all kinds of clothing, etc, you mentioned the seat cushions (which correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t John Lowenstein instigate that episode) but I guess my favorite (mostly for sentimental reasons) was the old tankard night they had back in the 70’s. Living in York we didn’t get to too many games but I knew that was one night my dad and I would spend at the ballpark. Great questions Dan and thanks for helping me relive a great memory today!

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Here was my problem with the tankards. You put those suckers in the dishwasher once — once — and they come out looking like a show mold. You could fit about 2 ounces of liquid in there after that.

  6. Major Award

    February 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

    My most frequently used freebie is the 50th Anniversary seat cushion (I love the zippered pouch). It wasn’t free to me, however, as I purchased three of them on eBay ($1 for the trio, plus $15 shipping). My favorites, though, were the statues given out during the 2012 season. All six occupy places of honor in my man cave/museum. Interesting to read all the positive remarks about the Hawaiian shirts. I remember seeing the promotional ad during MASN telecasts and said to my wife that I’d be willing to pay NOT to receive one. Now that I see them on eBay typically selling for $100 and more I think I might have been a tad hasty in my judgement. Fun question, Dan, and as always I enjoy reading the comments.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Thanks Major, drink chip. I’m surprised they haven’t made the Hawaiian shirts an annual thing.

  7. Creatively_19

    February 10, 2017 at 10:49 am

    I think most of the giveaways are pretty terrific, though obviously some are better than others. Value is dependent on whether the game is “Classic”, “Prime” or “Elite” on the giveaway night. I can’t think of any particular giveaways that were bad, though two that were ill-timed do come to mind.

    I believe that both Nolan Reimold and Brian Matusz had bobbleheads being given away in Camden Yards while they were playing for the Norfolk Tides.

    On a note of the oddly placed, I saw a Sydney Ponson bobblehead at an Indian Lunch Buffet recently.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 10, 2017 at 11:10 am

      I’ve often heard it said that Sidney had a hard time pushing himself away from the buffet table.

      • rebusgadfly

        February 10, 2017 at 11:50 am


      • Dan Connolly

        February 10, 2017 at 2:56 pm

        Durn it. I was cleaning up a spill. Boog beat me to the joke.

  8. loganmillermusic12

    February 10, 2017 at 11:50 am

    My favorite that i’ve received was the O’s golf umbrella…. It was the night that Manny got into a fight with Ventura (RIP) and everyone was waving their umbrellas in the air like an excited mob. Don’t think I’ve personally ever received a bad giveaway. The ones this year look great. The MD flag jersey. Home plate shaped door mat. OPACY replica. Bottle stoppers. I’m pumped.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Of the new ones, I’m intrigued to see the doormat. I’m sure there are plenty of jokes that could go with that one, depending on how well the club is playing.

  9. Eldersburg Enigma

    February 10, 2017 at 11:58 am

    I think my favorite giveaway is all the player t-shirts. Rich Dubroff has some fun posts about the shirts spotted at home games. 2017 brought us Brad Bergerson, Jason Berken, and Geronimo Gil shirt sightings in OPACY, as just a few examples. I guess people like free shirts!

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      The Cesar Izturis one might be my personal favorite.


    February 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Best was the Hyun Soo Kim t shirt day last season. It was great seeing him rise and become an integral part of the team. The t shirt with everything in Hangul was really, really cool.

    Buck gnome was super legit too.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm

      That’s a good one. Wish I had been there.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 3:01 pm

      I actually wrote about that transformation in a weekly column I write for a Korean outlet. How he went from being booed on Opening Day to his own T-shirt at season’s end.

  11. 1roberts

    February 10, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    My favorite was the 2010 Matt Wieters bobblehead. Our third child was around 8 months and he went with us to the ballpark. It was the first time my whole family, all five members was there so I was excited anyway. Originally they advertised the bobbleheads were for 15 and over but I guess they thought they would have so many leftover that they gave me, my wife and all three kids one. The kids were really excited they were given one too. Just a memorable game. As another poster commented, great question and thanks for bringing back a good memory!

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Good story, 1. Drink chip.

  12. brianstrongyork

    February 10, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Tankard night! If I could post a picture I would, because I still have one. Tankard night form the 70’s was cool and made for a cool “drinking container ” a few years later in college.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      They must have had better dishwashers in York. Cuz mine in Baltimore melted those suckers immediately. And who has time to hand wash???

  13. Rschaffner

    February 10, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Thanks Brooks Day with Norman Rockwell giveaway poster of Brooks.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 10, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      That poster rocked — pun intended.

  14. LarryBS

    February 11, 2017 at 12:30 am

    I had to be there on Thanks Brooks Day. Dad pasted that poster to a wooden frame sort of thing, then we had Brooks sign it. It is on the wall right now.
    This post makes me feel even more rotten that I’ve never been to Camden Yards. I’ve missed years of goodies. Hard to get there from Sarasota, But I’ve got the O’s in two days, at least!

  15. app063

    February 12, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Best giveaway – for the ladies / moms – players giving out fake long stem roses on Mom’s day at each gate.

  16. general81

    February 13, 2017 at 7:59 am

    I’m a little late here, but …

    I agree with the mini-statues from 2012 – those are the best giveaways I can remember. I also like caps, and dearly wish I would have gotten a Hawaiian shirt.

    The worst, to me, was the kids jacket from many, MANY years ago when we were still at Memorial Stadium. They were thick white plastic with an Orioles logo on the chest, a sponsor logo on the shoulder (Mobil or another gasoline company, maybe … ?), and snaps up the front. I wore it one cool spring day, and it was like a sweat suit – as in, I lost about 10 pounds of sweat. Just not a good product at all – and I don’t remember it being offered again.

  17. bv22

    February 13, 2017 at 9:43 am

    I’m late to the party here, but every year I base the games I attend on the promotions being given away. I gotta say that the hooded sweatshirts the past two years have been surprisingly nice, although the zippers are plastic and easy to break. The 2012 statues were real nice and are in my under construction man cave, as is my bobblehead collection (I hit bobblehead night every year). Last year’s vintage/retro bobblehead was cool, and my wife gave her girl one to our 4 year old who didn’t know what to do with it so I put it high up on a shelf so she couldn’t destroy it! The Wild Bill Hagy cowboy hats were nice too. One of my favorite promotions was back in the 2008-2009 timeframe when t-shirt night was actually shirseys (t-shirt jerseys), which are the player and number shirts you see at the games all the time. I don’t know why the O’s quit doing those or started messing around with the styling of them because at first, they had it down pat- I still wear my Markakis and Wieters shirseys all the time because they look good…

    As for worst ones, I gotta say that the tankards definitely were not made to go through a dishwasher, and I also got a tumbler a few years ago at Fanfest and it too didn’t make it through the dishwasher more than once or twice. It was a nice cup too before it’s maiden voyage through the dishwasher….The other promotion that always gets me is the replica jerseys- adult XL for those things are made more like L or XL for a child! And the t-shirt giveaways now are really hit or miss; the only one I’ve really liked the past few years was the 60th World Series anniversary one given away last year.

    I didn’t understand the Hawaiian shirt giveaway; I traded mine for a father’s day fedora and my dad’s for a Buck gnome. I’m really kicking myself for not holding onto mine to make some dough.

  18. Chris Reilly

    February 13, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    I don’t know about giveaways but the Ezrine Tire Award was better than a HOF nod.

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