Over the years, John Von Paris and the Savage-based moving company he now heads have had their share of Orioles' highlights.
Among the highlights were innumerable Orioles games spanning several decades as season-ticket holders; helping dozens of O's players and other employees move; moving the team itself from Memorial Stadium to its new home in Camden Yards in 1992; and moving the team and its equipment to and from spring training in Florida.
This week, the 122-year-old Von Paris Moving and Storage will add one more highlight when Von Paris and his company are honored before an Orioles game at a celebration recognizing long-time season ticket-holders.
"It's an honor and a privilege to be asked to do that," Von Paris, 55, said of the event. "Those two word go together a lot — people say them a lot. But it truly is an honor."
The celebration is part of a series of events celebrating the Orioles' 60 years in Baltimore.
A team spokesman said Von Paris Moving will be among 29 original season ticket-holders, most of them businesses, feted at a reception before the Friday game against the St. Louis Cardinals, and then honored in a pregame, on-field ceremony.
"Over the past 60 years, everlasting memories have been made at Memorial Stadium and now at Camden Yards, and none of them would have been possible without the Orioles' incredible fans," Greg Bader, vice president of communications and marketing for the Orioles, said in a statement. "It is only appropriate that when we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the franchise that we honor those fans who have been with us since baseball returned to Baltimore in 1954. The tremendous loyalty and support demonstrated by our fans for generations is one of the defining characteristics of Orioles baseball."
A memorable move
Besides being fans and regulars at Orioles games, Von Paris said the company has worked with the Orioles since they arrived in Baltimore, helping to move many players and employees.
The partnership was solidified in 1992 when Von Paris Moving was hired to move the team from its original home at Memorial Stadium to Camden Yards.
"That was a memorable move in our history as a company, and it happened to be in the year our company turned 100," Von Paris said. "We had to be professional, of course, but we were fans as well. … I remember, we had 25 vans in the parking lot of Memorial Stadium on Saturday morning, and seven police escorts. … Pretty much the entire Von Paris family was on that move," he added. "We all had our uniforms on. … I rode in the lead truck.
"It was really a very special time. It was the beginning of Camden Yards, which was really exciting, and a positive thing for the entire state. It was exciting to be part of that."
With that 1992 move, Von Paris said, the company became the official movers of the Baltimore Orioles, which has led to numerous special events. When the team collected supplies for victims of Hurricane Sandy, for example, Von Paris Moving delivered the supplies to the victims.
"It's a real partnership," Von Paris said. "We don't take it lightly. We're very proud to be sponsor and supporter of the Orioles."
The Orioles are not the company's only big-name client. Von Paris Moving is also the official mover of the Baltimore Ravens and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the company handled George H. W. Bush's move from Washington back to Texas after he left the White House.
The business started in East Baltimore and, after a couple of moves, opened its corporate headquarters in Savage in 1998. They also have three other locations in the Baltimore area.
When he takes the field before the Aug. 8 game, Von Paris said, he'll do it not as an individual but a representative of a long-time, successful, family-run local business — one started by his great grandfather in 1892. Fifteen family members work in the business today, he said.
"The reason I'm there is to represent a company that I'm very proud of," Von Paris said. "A family business that's 122 years old and has had a good relationship with the Orioles because of the hard work of our employees."