SARASOTA, FLA. — The Orioles announced a multiyear partnership with the U.S. Naval Academy that will include playing a major league exhibition game at the academy’s Max Bishop Stadium in March 2019.
Details of the game will be announced following the 2018 season, the club announced Wednesday.
“That’s something that’s been in the works for a while,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That’s exciting. That’s something that I know ownership has been talking about for a while and this year we were finally able to put it together. It’s great for Navy, great for Maryland and there’s no downside. That’s something that we’re excited [about]. I wish we could do it this year.”
The partnership comes four months after news emerged that the Orioles took part in the termination of the Washington Nationals’ annual exhibition game played at the Naval Academy because it was being played within Orioles’ territory as designated by Major League Baseball.
The Orioles’ partnership with the academy not only includes next year’s exhibition game, but Camden Yards will also host an Army-Navy doubleheader for charity on March 25. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Naval Academy Athletic Association and the Fisher House Foundation, which provides care for families of patients who are receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Tickets for the Army-Navy doubleheader will cost $10 for all general-admission lower-level seating.
Also, the Orioles will hold a “Navy Day” at Camden Yards for a home date in August when more than 1,000 plebes will receive complimentary tickets. The Navy baseball team will travel to the Ed Smith Stadium complex to work out with the Orioles and play exhibition games there against Orioles minor league affiliates while there in future years.
“Being able to play there and for them to come in and play at Camden, I wish I could get there for it,” Showalter said. “It’s great. It’s something we’ve been talking about for a while. I know Louis and John and Mr. Angelos have been working hard to try to make it happen, so congratulations to them.”
Before the Nationals played there last season, the Naval Academy had hosted MLB teams — including the Orioles — 11 previous times, but not since 1987, when the Houston Astros played the Navy baseball team in 1987.
“The entire Orioles organization is honored to join with the United States Naval Academy now and for many years to come in this unique year-round partnership in sports and charitable programming that brings Orioles players and fans together with the Midshipmen and leadership of such a venerated national institution,” Orioles executive vice president John Angelos said in a statement.
“It has been my personal honor to work hand in hand with those who set the course at the Naval Academy to develop this one-of-a-kind collaborative effort of a professional sports team with the great military service academy that calls our State of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region that the Orioles serve its home. We show our appreciation for the Academy’s presence here in our community and our respect for the example that its members set every day by calling attention to and working in support of the Academy’s enduring service to our nation.”
Before the 2017 season, the Nationals began a three-year partnership to play an annual major league exhibition game at the academy, even though Annapolis is considered within Orioles territory, according to the most recent amendments to the MLB constitution regarding territorial rights.
That was brought to Major League Baseball’s attention, and it was agreed upon that the Nationals’ game would only be played once instead of through 2019.
In that game, which was played April 1, the Nationals and Boston Red Sox played in front of a crowd of 1,030, including 800 midshipmen.
When the Nationals franchise moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005, the Major League Baseball Constitution was amended to adjust territorial areas. The Orioles’ territory was designated as Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County and Anne Arundel County, where the Naval Academy is located.
The Orioles were among the teams that played in Annapolis, but so did the New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers and Red Sox, and without incident arising from the territorial rules that have been in effect since the MLB Constitution was written in 1921.
The Nationals have no Maryland counties in their territory, according to the constitution, holding the District of Columbia, three Virginia counties and the independent cities that border them. Maryland counties that border Washington, such as Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, aren’t listed as part of either team’s territory. There was some discussion about the Orioles attempting to play an exhibition at the academy this spring, but the team was already committed to playing a game at its Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk.
“These are exciting times to be partnered with the Orioles on a number of events,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said in a statement. “The baseball team will enjoy an amazing experience, and the doubleheader is a fantastic way to showcase the great Army-Navy rivalry.”