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“We’re all-in on the O’s” – The Denver Post


Ross Campbell has learned his lesson, and more. On a connecting flight from the Dominican Republic to New York, Campbell arrived in Portland, Oregon, with the startling realization that Dillon did not survive.

Campbell, the general manager of the Portland Pickles, had decided that Dillon would go up in the cargo hold – because, well, Dillon is a seven-foot-tall pickle and the mascot of the wooden summer baseball team. No matter how realistic Dillon might seem, with his winning smile and a baseball cap clipped to his noggin, riding with other passengers would have attracted attention.

But Dillon was lost. And once Delta finally delivered the vital cargo to Walker Stadium in Portland, it was quickly robbed off the front steps before being returned about 10 days later.

“It’s no longer allowed in the cargo hold,” Campbell said.

So this time, when Campbell booked a flight for him and Dillon The Pickle to Baltimore, Dillon found his way into the main cabin.

“He’s ready to go sit in his normal seat,” Campbell said. “I mean, we don’t really have a choice.”

And when asked if Dillon would be stowed in the luggage rack or carried by whoever was usually inside the mascot, Campbell was puzzled.

“What do you mean?” he said. “It’s a pickle. Nobody wears it.

Sure.

The cross-country trip for Dillon The Pickle has a purpose, however, in an effort to unite the pickles. It’s also a chance for Dillon to have a better East Coast experience, avoiding the trauma of becoming lost baggage and instead partying with Orioles fans at the Pickles Pub outside Camden Yards. Friday between 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The following day, Dillon will grace the Big Dill Pickle Festival in Baltimore with his presence. Dillon was unavailable to comment on this story, as he cannot speak. But Campbell assures Dillon is thrilled to have the opportunity to “put him in situations with other pickles”.

The connection between the Portland Pickles and the Orioles isn’t as random as it seems. Pickles owner Alan Miller became an Orioles fan at age 10 in Los Angeles. He was tired of watching every baseball team in California, so he turned on the television and saw Cal Ripken Jr. play.

He was addicted.

“I can’t believe I did this to myself,” Miller said.

But there was no turning back for him, so he survived the 1988 loss and turn-of-the-century playoff drought and returned to more losses in a full-scale rebuild. He gave his then 10-year-old son an outing, giving him a free pass to become a Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees fan.

“It’s going to be easier,” Miller said. “And he said, ‘No, I want to be an O fan.’ So I feel so bad for him.

The turnaround this season, however, has been a welcome one for father and son, who tune in to watch TV or listen to every Orioles game on the radio, even during the Pickles’ season, which runs from June to August.

“I always wanted to find a way to support the Orioles however we could, as the Pickles and Dillon and a lot of our stuff became more and more popular, I really wanted to reach out and be supportive and do anything we can,” Miller said. “Fortunately or unfortunately, we’re all-in on the O’s, and so we’ve made Dillon The Pickle a huge Orioles fan.”

They also have a hometown favorite in catcher Adley Rutschman, who grew up near Sherwood, Oregon and played for Oregon State. While playing summer ball for the Pickles’ rival Corvallis Knights, some of Rutschman’s family attend Pickles games, and Rutschman hosted a youth clinic with the Pickles last year.

The legend of Dillon The Pickle grew rapidly, given his voracious appetite to connect with his fans. On Twitter, he went viral for a fun pic misinterpreted as showing Dillon’s pickle to the world.

“Mascot takeover – always a bad idea on social media, that’s what we learned very quickly,” Campbell said. “Dillon sometimes causes us more problems than good, but at the end of the day, he represents what our team is all about. We want to connect with as many people as possible, and we want to show people that Dillon is awesome, the city of Portland is awesome and it’s fun to have fun, and we don’t need to take ourselves seriously every day.

“Dillon wants to connect with as many fans as possible, and that was one of his campaigns,” Campbell continued. “He just decided to send all his fans a thumbs up, and of course it was taken in a very different direction and performed in a very different way than originally intended. But Dillon is a good one.

It was these shenanigans that helped Dillon rise to fame, with the annual Big Dill Pickle Festival interest. Finally, they made it work, with Dillon The Pickle’s program to serve as a guest judge with his own booth to give away Pickles material.

And as an Orioles fan who once enjoyed the Pickles Pub, Miller felt it was necessary to combine the Big Dill Pickle Festival with a trip to the iconic Orioles bar. So Dillon will be there on Friday wearing an Orioles home run chain, after safely navigating a plane.

“He’ll be taking pictures with people and handing out gifts, and trying to get a feel for Orioles fans,” Campbell said. “And I think the Orioles fans will do a good job of converting his fandom into a Baltimore fan.”

ASTROS@ORIOLES

Friday, 7:05 p.m.

TV: MASN

Radio: 97.9FM, 101.5FM, 1090AM

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