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Orioles home opener to include first pitch from Mayor Brandon Scott; Mo Gaba, front-line workers to be recognized

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh — the former mayor of Boston — will both throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Orioles’ home opener Thursday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox.

Scott will join Walsh in what the team called “a moment of unity between our two cities as we celebrate the long-awaited return of fans to our ballpark.”

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Thursday’s contest will mark the first game at Camden Yards with fans in attendance since Sept. 22, 2019, after the coronavirus pandemic kept them from entering the ballpark during the 2020 season. The Orioles are beginning the year with a limited attendance of about 11,000, or 25% of the ballpark’s capacity. Gates will open an hour before first pitch at 2:05 p.m., with pregame ceremonies scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m.

In addition to the first pitches, the Orioles’ planned festivities will include a video welcoming fans back to Oriole Park, featuring a poem from Baltimore-based poet and author Kondwani Fidel. Zadia, a musician born and raised in West Baltimore, will perform the national anthem, which will conclude with a flyover by the 104th Fighter Squadron of the Maryland Air National Guard 175th Wing. The Continental Color Guard will present the colors.

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The Orioles will also recognize several of their fans. The annual “10th Man” has been renamed “Mo Gaba’s Fan of the Year,” honoring the 14-year-old superfan who died of cancer in July shortly after being elected into the Orioles Hall of Fame. The inaugural recipient of “Mo Gaba’s Fan of the Year” will be all of the team’s fans, the club said, with all fans in the ballpark getting to make the ceremonial “Play Ball!” call.

The team will honor those who have helped the community and its businesses endure the pandemic. Along with time devoted to recognizing front-line workers, the club will honor Dave Seel, the Board President of the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund, as the Birdland Community Hero during the game. Seel founded the group to help support area restaurants and employees as they faced the pandemic.

As the Orioles try to continue to follow health and safety guidelines, the team has instituted a cashless policy for all purchases in the 2021 season, while also offering mobile ordering through the MLB Ballpark App or designated QR codes in the stadium. All game tickets will be digital, as well.

Fans must wear a mask at all times unless they are actively eating or drinking at their ticket seat. The club is also not allowing fans to bring in their own bags or food as they have in the past, with the exception of medically necessary or nursery bags.

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