SALISBURY, MD – An appearance from the Orioles’ general manager and a donation to a new Wicomico County project became highlights of the 19th annual Shorebirds Hot Stove Banquet, held on Thursday, January 23, at the Wicomico Civic Center in preparation for the silver anniversary season of Delmarva Shorebirds baseball.
The keynote speaker for the event was Mike Elias, general manager and executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles. Elias, who last visited Salisbury for the Shorebirds’ playoff game on September 6, took questions from the audience and spoke at length about the importance of Delmarva and Baltimore’s other minor league affiliates in reversing the Orioles’ major league fortunes in the coming years.
“Some of the names we’ve been reading about are going to start to arrive in Camden Yards,” said Elias. “It’s still about player development and those individual performances and not necessarily the team’s win-and-loss record. Those guys are taking steps forward, graduating to the big leagues and adjusting to big-league life.”
Elias also paid one last homage to the 2019 Shorebirds, who won a franchise-record 90 games en route to a South Atlantic League postseason berth and earned MiLB.com Minor League Team of the Year honors. Delmarva was one of four Orioles affilates who either made the playoffs (Bowie), contended until the season’s final day (Aberdeen), or finished with their league’s best record (Gulf Coast League Orioles).
“It’s exactly what you want to see, especially when you’re in a rebuild,” said Elias. “We’re focused on that type of success. The success of teams like the Shorebirds is really going to dictate what we do the next couple of years in Baltimore.”
Before Elias’ keynote address, the Civic Center crowd of almost 300 heard from several other speakers, including Shorebirds General Manager Chris Bitters and 7th Inning Stretch LP President Pat Filippone. Orioles Director of Minor League Operations Kent Qualls was also scheduled to speak but was unable to attend due to unscheduled business.
Bitters announced during his presentation that the Shorebirds were donating $25,000 to Field 7 ½, a new initiative from the Wicomico County Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism designed to provide individuals with physical or mental disabilities the opportunity to play baseball. Bitters presented a ceremonial check on-stage to Department Director Steve Miller.
In addition to the Field 7 ½ donation, the Shorebirds held a silent auction and raffle in order to raise funds for two other charitable partners. The auction and raffle brought in nearly $3,000 for the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, partner of the Shorebirds Fly Together Fund, and the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore.
The Shorebirds also presented hardware to their 2019 Fan of the Year, longtime season ticket holder and player host family mom Vicki Parks. Caroline Beauchamp, Shorebirds head groundskeeper, was named Employee of the Year by the Delmarva Shorebirds Fan Club.
The night served as the downbeat for the 25th season of Delmarva Shorebirds baseball, set to begin on Thursday, April 9, against the Asheville Tourists at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. Season tickets are now on sale and single-game tickets will be unveiled week-by-week for online purchase in the coming weeks.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.