When I first saw the kid pushing the hand truck loaded with a stack of cardboard boxes across Conway Street towards the Lee Street entrance to Oriole Park I thought he might have worked for one of the souvenir street vendors outside replenishing a supply of baseball caps or t-shirts. When I got up closer I could see the boxes had an official Major League Baseball logo on them and contained ballots for this year’s All-Star game. I thought it was on odd way to deliver ballots to the ballpark. I would think they would be dropped off by a truck at one of the delivery entrances perhaps beneath the ballpark. When I asked the kid what he was doing he explained that the boxes contained punched ballots that he and his girlfriend were now turning in, 12,500 in all. Both of them were also wearing backpacks full of ballots.
Christian Walston, 19 and Kelsey Thomas also 19, are 13-game plan season-ticket holders from Crisfield, MD and Temperance, VA respectively, who were turning in their ballots as part of the Orioles’ Vote-Orange program, that rewards ballot-box stuffers with all sorts of team swag for ensuring that the Birds will be well-represented at the mid-summer classic taking place at Minnesota’s Target Field on july 15, 2014.
Prizes were awarded incrementally for turning in ballots, for example those who turned in 50 ballots were entered into a drawing to receive an autographed photo at each home game with the winner’s name being posted on the scoreboard in the 7th inning. One hundred and fifty ballots earned a Vote Orange pin, 500 ballots got a Vote Orange T-shirt, 10,000 ballots garnered a pair of field box seats for the Orioles June 13 game against the Toronto Blue Jays and field passes for the post game fireworks show. Yesterday was the final day of the promotion and the 12,500 ballots Christian and Kelsey were humping into to the ballpark brought their contest-total to 38,000, landing them one of the top five prizes; a 12-person catered suite for an upcoming, game at Oriole Park. Christian and Kelsey punched all of the ballots by hand which created quite a mess back home.
“We put down sheets to catch all the dots it was like confetti. We tried to vacuum them up are dump them into the trash can but it didn’t work they still got everywhere,” said Walston.
While the contest rules required that fans vote for at least three Orioles on each ballot, Walston, whose favorite player is Chris Davis and Thomas, who prefers Matt Wieters, cast their votes for every Orioles’ name on the ballots, “So if David Lough has a high amount of votes it’s because of us,” said Walston, who even voted for Ryan Flaherty at second base.
In addition to receiving one of the top five grand prizes, Walston, who makes the three-hour drive to each game from his Eastern Shore home, was rewarded with a pinch-hit, walk-off home run by his favorite player Davis in the Orioles 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.