At the end of August, sitting in Camden Yards’ Section 86, Kathy Glass wore a clear rain poncho over her orange Orioles T-shirt to keep at least partially dry from the spray of “Mr. Splash.”
“He’s gotten so much crazier with the water,” said Glass, 54. “You get a lot more wet.”
Glass, a season ticket holder, normally sits nearby in Section 85. It was her third time venturing over to the Bird Bath Splash Zone this season as she watched the team defeat the Chicago White Sox, 9-0, on Aug. 28.
In the Splash Zone, fans like Glass have come to expect a deluge of water no matter the weather, as the section’s mascot hoses them down anytime the Orioles hit doubles, triples and home runs (or whenever the mood strikes).
Love for the section has remained steady through the summer — and Splash Zone enthusiasts don’t plan on receding to drier sections come fall. Instead, cooler temperatures may inspire some creativity.
“You can always wear a wetsuit,” said Glass, adding that she wasn’t sure whether she’d go quite that far herself.
The Hunt Valley resident, who is retired from the Maryland Department of the Environment, attended the Monday evening game with David Phillips, a friend she made at Echo Community Church in White Marsh.
“It gets people pumped up,” said Phillips, 34, of the section’s atmosphere.
The Bird Bath, which debuted in mid-May after three Orioles players conceived the idea to match the season’s other water-themed player celebrations, has sold out for every game since it was introduced, said Jennifer Grondahl, the Orioles’ senior vice president of communications and community development, in an email to The Baltimore Sun.
Tickets for the section were $20 and came with a warning that fans and their personal belongings “may become saturated with water.” In the early days of the Splash Zone, attendees likely weren’t thinking ahead to the chillier months of the year, but now, the Orioles seem poised to continue playing.
While Mr. Splash’s true identity remains a mystery — the Orioles poured cold water on The Sun’s request to interview the man wielding the hose — former Orioles player Adam Jones and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore have brought name recognition to the section as “guest splashers,” taking a turn amping up fans.
“It’s a tossup for who was more excited — the fans to see the guest splashers or the guest splashers to be a part of the Bird Bath,” Grondahl said.
The job includes spraying fans but also leading chants and tossing out items like T-shirts, hats and bobbleheads.
In the fall, the Splash Zone will continue to feature Mr. Splash’s usual antics so that fans get the “true, authentic Bird Bath experience,” Grondahl added. The Orioles’ run could extend as late as November, if the team makes it to the final game of the World Series.
Mr. Splash also began making appearances outside of Camden Yards on Sept. 9, when he visited Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Halethorpe to spray fans tuning in for the Orioles game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. He’ll continue to travel to new destinations during September.
“I will take a zillion showers if we’re going to be in the playoffs,” Glass said from inside the stadium’s Bird Bath.
Others, like Severna Park resident Scott Bell, shared Glass’ enthusiasm for the new tradition.
“I hope we get soaked,” Bell, 43, said. “That means the Orioles will be winning.”
He attended the late August game with his family to celebrate his daughter Laney’s 11th birthday. He came prepared for the experience, with swimming goggles strapped across his forehead — and he wasn’t the only one.
Friends Danielle Sanger, 37, and Lora Jones, 69, also wore goggles as a fashion accessory when they sat in the Bird Bath for the first time in August.
Jones, who has kept score of games she’s attended since she was around 10 years old, stowed a book containing scores for 30 to 40 games spanning the past few years in a clear waterproof bag that night, opting to record the score online the next morning instead.
She called the experience “an absolute blast” and said she’d return to the Splash Zone next year, if it continues.
“People plan for it,” added Sanger, a Baltimore County resident.
Lifelong Locust Point resident Theresa Novak dressed for the occasion in a different way, sporting a T-shirt with “Mrs. Splash” scrawled across the back, an early birthday gift from one of her friends.
“When we go to this Bird Bath, I want to be Mrs. Splash,” Novak, who works in the cafeteria at St. Philip Neri Catholic School in Linthicum and will turn 60 on Sept. 28, recalled telling her friends before the game.
It was her second time in the Bird Bath in two weeks and no longer a novice, Novak had a suggestion. She said the area ought to be expanded to include more seating sections — a sentiment echoed by others in Section 86.
Orioles fans with tickets to sit in the Bird Bath receive wristbands, so that ushers can more easily identify those trying to sneak in. A handful of people still tried their luck infiltrating the Splash Zone in late August, only to get booted from the section once they were discovered.
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Still, some in the section lamented soggy jeans and wet seats, or looked like they’d emerged from a shower with sopping hair.
Richard Smith, a Hagerstown resident, brought a blue umbrella to the game and said he wasn’t thrilled that his wife had bought tickets for the Splash Zone.
“I think people are going to catch pneumonia” in the fall, said Smith, who was celebrating his 59th birthday.
One way around that could be in Mr. Splash’s control.
“Make the water warmer, that’s all you gotta do,” said Michael Young, who sat in the next section over during the Aug. 28 game.
The Baltimore resident had sat in the Bird Bath before and said it boasted “all-inclusive fun.” But expanding the section would be a mistake, he suggested.
“Keep it special,” Young, 34, said. “Everyone wants to sit there. … Leave it that way.”