BALTIMORE—On a beautiful Sunday, the Orioles drew 17,540 fans for their final home game of the 2019 season. That number was about 1,200 higher than their average of 16,348 for the season.
The 2019 season was a disappointment on the field and at the box office.
With six games remaining, the Orioles have a 51-105 record and have won four more than they did in 2018 when they went 47-115.
For the season, they drew 1,307,807, a drop of 256,385 from 2018. It’s the lowest full-season attendance since 1978 when the team played at Memorial Stadium.
This season featured the lowest-paying crowd in Oriole Park at Camden Yards history, 6,585 on April 8. There were only four games that drew more than 30,000 — three against the New York Yankees and one against Boston, none after June 15.
In a pregame media session to discuss the 2019 season, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias predicted that fans would eturn to the ballpark once the team begins winning again.
“I can’t ask anyone to embrace losing the way we have been,” Elias said.
“Our record last year was historically bad. This year, it’s not going to be a ton better. Nobody wants to do this. We never want this to happen again, but this is where we started from.
“The group of people who joined the organization this year, we took this on, trying to fix it. In order to do that, we’re making changes. We’re not just doing the same thing with the same people … It’s difficult. It’s a long way to go. We’re far behind.”
The Orioles will finish 28th in the major leagues in attendance, ahead of only the Tampa Bay Rays, a team with major stadium issues, and the Miami Marlins, who are also experiencing a massive makeover.
“There’s a long way to go, a lot to be done,” Elias said. “I think the support has been tremendous. The people coming out here, they love this team, the people in this city love this team. They know that this needs to be done. I’m confident that they’re going to come back, and they’re going to come back in a big way.”
At his final home pregame press conference of the season, manager Brandon Hyde, who spent five years as a coach with the Chicago Cubs, talked about the crowd support.
At Wrigley Field, Hyde was used to regular sellouts and working in a park that traditionally drew huge crowds. On Saturday night, the Orioles drew 22,256 for a Sherpa blanket giveaway, their largest attendance in more than two months.
“The energy in the ballpark last night was fantastic,” Hyde said on Sunday.
“I’m looking forward to the day when it’s like that all the time because that was more normal for me, and that was great. There was energy, and I think our guys responded by scoring a few right away because of it.
“It’s too bad we didn’t come away with a win last night, but I appreciated the way the fans showed up … and were loud and energetic. It was a big difference.”
Hyde also had a message for Oriole fans.
“We talked a lot this year about how hard it’s been. It has been hard, and it’s been a trying process … it’s hard to see, and I can totally understand the frustration right now, but it will get better.
“Mike and [assistant general manager Sig Mejdal] have done some really good things in their career to be able to acquire talent and to get talent in this organization and produce a winning ballclub.
“And I’ve seen from the start in 2012 to about three years later what the difference is, so I’m just asking for everybody’s patience in this, and I want fans to feel good about the start of this process and trust that it’s going to get a lot better.”
The Orioles begin the 2020 season at home on March 26 against the Yankees.