When Jim Hess and his daughter, Laura, finally made it to Camden Yards after 1,000 miles on the road, in the middle of the major league debut of their son and brother, David, the ticket attendant at the player's will call window was expecting them.
"You're the last two for the Hess clan," he said.
The Hess clan — 27 in all — was quite noticeable at Camden Yards on Saturday for David's big league bow, clustered behind home plate chanting his name after each of his six innings and donning freshly printed Orioles gear with his No. 41 on it.
The mass of them blocked the tunnel beneath Camden Yards between games as they waited for a congratulatory hug with the man of the hour. And once the rain hit in Game 2 later in the evening, they stood as a mass in the concourse, too, forcing traffic around them.
After the game, the 24-year-old Hess said it was "a lot of fun" wrangling tickets and organizing matters so his friends and families — genealogical and baseball — could be a part of it.
"It's been a really exciting process and experience, something that I'll never forget," Hess said.
The who's-who of his guest list, from parents and siblings to cousins and grandparents, teammates to team moms, and how they made it to Baltimore this weekend could chart a path of Hess' entire baseball life. The influence he had on all of them along the way meant they were happy to drop everything and meet Saturday at Camden Yards for him.
It turned out wrangling most of the clan was easier for the circumstances — Hess' wife, Devin, is graduating from West Virginia University with a degree in social work Sunday, and much of her family was planning to be in Morgantown to celebrate that. That included Hess' mother, Charlotte. Those plans changed late Thursday night.
It was then that Hess got the notice that he'd be traveling to Baltimore on Friday morning, and though his assignment wasn't clear — he didn't learn he was starting until manager Buck Showalter said it in his postgame news conference Friday — Saturday's doubleheader and the team's need for a starting pitcher that day made for an easy assumption.
Angie Turner, who was Hess' host mother when he played college ball for the West Virginia Miners in the summer of 2013, said Devin's family had a hunch that his debut would come this weekend all week long. She would know. That summer, she introduced Hess to his future wife — the Turner family’s babysitter.
So, when the news started filtering out among Hess' inner circle that Saturday was a possibility, the plan changed. They left Morgantown at 5:30 a.m. to make it for first pitch.
"The graduation party for Sunday came here Saturday," Jim Hess said.
Jim came from Tennessee by way of Augusta, Ga., where Hess' sister attends college. He was going to visit her for the weekend, but instead picked her up and took interstates 20 and 95 right to Camden Yards.
Relatives and friends filled out the rest of the Hess party. Hess' host family from Double-A Bowie, who now live in Virginia, drove up. A pair of his teammates from Tennessee Tech flew in for the game to see the first ever major league start by a former Golden Eagle.
After the game, everyone got a hug, but not before their loudest cheer of the day bounced through the cavernous tunnel below the stadium when they got a glimpse of him after his media obligations. Jim and Charlotte got baseballs, and mom's was autographed right on the sweet spot.
By the time the rain came midway through the second game, they'd sufficiently decompressed and were deciding whether to wait it out. Many of them had to be back in Morgantown for the afternoon commencement ceremony.
The sojourn to Baltimore, though, was worth it for all involved.
"We would come up here every weekend if we had to," Turner said.