The Baltimore Orioles’ 60th anniversary season was memorable both on the field and at the turnstiles. Fans were treated to great play that led to a 2014 division title, as well as wearables giveaways at the gate that became instant collectibles. “Apparel is an extremely popular giveaway, not just in Baltimore, but throughout Major League Baseball,” says Greg Bader, the Orioles’ vice president of marketing and communications.
Bader notes that T-shirts, caps and other apparel have a high value for fans, as they can get multiple uses out of the giveaway items. “Additionally, it’s good for a brand to provide apparel for fans to wear throughout the marketplace as it helps promote the brand image and identity,” he says.
Indeed, Orioles-branded apparel was given out at 15 of the club’s 24 home game promotional dates. The Orioles’ giveaway schedule in 2014 featured six separate T-shirts that were provided to all fans in attendance. “We even allowed our fans to choose their sizes (medium to XL) for the first time in club history,” Bader says.
There were six hat giveaways in 2014, including the Orioles’ classic floppy hat, which is similar to Gilligan’s hat on the famed 1960s TV series. Plus, the club gave out a Father’s Day fedora and a Wild Bill cowboy hat. “All of our hats ended up being popular in 2014, but the Wild Bill hat was perhaps the most popular,” says Bader. “It was the first time we had ever given away this style hat, and since it was in honor of ‘Wild Bill’ Hagy, one of the most famous Orioles’ fans of all time, and in celebration of our 60th anniversary, the promotion was extremely well-received.” The Wild Bill hat was distributed on August 9 to the first 20,000 fans ages 15 and older.
The promotions were so unique that local reporters even whimsically debated which item was the best of all. Local reporters Zach Wilt and Jabby Burns sparred over the merits of the floppy hat versus the fedora on the Baltimore Sports Report. Burns called the Orioles’ fedora the “new, hip way of the future” while Wilt praised the classic floppy hat.
“When the Orioles’ promotional schedule comes out, the first thing you look for is Floppy Hat Night,” Wilt said. “When you think Orioles’ promotions, you think floppy hat.” It’s true, the floppy hat promotion has been going on since the days of Memorial Stadium, which pre-dates Camden Yards, says Bader. Miller Lite has sponsored nearly all of the floppy hat giveaways, which are distributed to fans ages 21 and over.
So what giveaways does the club have on deck for fans in 2015? Spring training highlights include bag tags and plush toys. For the regular season, the Orioles won’t say just yet, although wearables will again surely take center stage.