It may be the season for ghosts, goblins and people dressed up like their favorite Orioles, but Buck and Angela Showalter came to the third-annual KidsPeace Trick-or-Trot 5K on Saturday dressed as themselves — Mr. and Mrs. Sporting News American League Manager of the Year.
Buck received that honor earlier in the week for the terrific job he did leading the surprising Orioles into the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Angela probably deserves even more credit for navigating a successful family life while keeping two homes on a crazy baseball schedule and putting any extra time into charitable endeavors like the one they helped host in Canton.
KidsPeace is a program that works with children and teens in foster care, and it is a labor of love for Angela, whose family took in foster kids on an occasional basis during her adolescent years.
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"My family did take in foster kids for a short time, just on the weekends, so it was just one of those memories that was tucked way,'' she said. "And, when I [was deciding which local charity to work with] it kind of brought back memories of kids who had come to our house and they'd come with everything they owned — in a garbage bag or a pillow case — and we would take them back on a Sunday afternoon.
"It would be a sad, emotional time because they were going back to a group home. They weren't staying in a home. You know, when you're 10, 11 years old or 13 or 14, that's a pretty scary thought that you're living in a place that looked like your elementary school. It was just a perfect fit for us."
It was an absolutely perfect morning for the race and mile walk, which drew a few hundred weekend athletes, many of them in Orioles gear and many more decked out in Halloween costumes of all sorts.
Buck's favorite, for obvious reasons, was Bill Birrane of Canton. The realtor and part-time beer vendor at Camden Yards came dressed as brand-new daddy Matt Wieters, in full uniform with a baby carrier instead of a chest protector. The baby wasn't real, but Birrane actually looked enough like Wieters that you had to do a double take.
The guy who came dressed as Nick Markakis actually turned out to be Nick Markakis, who showed up with his family to watch the race and add a little more Oriole starpower to the event. He'll be cleared in a few days to resume all activities after missing the stretch run and the playoffs with a broken thumb, but insisted that he would have been in the lineup on Saturday night at Camden Yards if the Orioles had reached the World Series instead of the Detroit Tigers.
The participants came from all over the area, some regular 5K enthusiasts and others to congratulate Buck Showalter on the Orioles' great season and what might be the first of two Manager of the Year awards. The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the choice of its voting members Nov. 13, and it likely will come down to either Showalter or Oakland A's manager (and former Oriole catcher) Bob Melvin.
Canton's Monica Skarpal skulked around the square wearing an all-black, head-to-toe costume with an evil-looking pumpkin mask and a sign on her back that said "Buck Showalter, 2012 Manager of the Year."
"We've been fans forever,'' she said, "even with the 0-21 start in 1988. It was painful, but we've been going to the games all along. We are so happy. We would have been happy with a .500 season. To make the playoffs was incredible."
Mark Freeman and Amelia Dotson of Pasadena ran on the team from Hospice of Chesapeake and got ready for the race with the "Couch to 5K Program," an online training and motivational course that helps new runners work their way up to three-plus miles. They also came to show their support and gratitude to Showalter.
"He just knows what they need to do and how to get them going,'' Dotson said.
Showalter, walking with a cane a week after undergoing partial knee replacement surgery, isn't comfortable accepting too much credit for his club's turnaround season, but he spent the entire event greeting fans, signing autographs and reluctantly accepting their kind words.
"I really mean this, it is such a team award,'' Showalter said of the Sporting News honor. "I've been kidding some of the players, who have been texting me, and I go that it's the epitome of a team award because what you all have done is surprise the experts the most. I think the fans take pride in it because it's kind of an organizational thing, and they take such pride in what the team did this year. You can see it in their faces, too. People come up and they get emotional about it. I do, too, so I guess we have something in common."
Everyone marvelled at the glorious weather, perhaps because everyone was aware that it would not stay glorious for very long. There is a big storm looming, but nothing was going to spoil this day.
"It's a little different than last year doing this,'' Showalter said, "but I guess it is apropos because it was sleeting and raining last year at this time, so in a lot of ways the sun's come out. Now, our job is to keep it out."
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here" at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog and listen when he co-hosts "The Week in Review" at noon Fridays on WBAL (1090 AM) and at wbal.com.Orioles Insider | Live scores | Photos | Baseball app