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12/13/11 9:00 PM EST
O's host City Springs students at holiday party
By Jeff Seidel / MLB.com
HANOVER, Md.-- Ma'Shae Green made an unusual request to Orioles pitcher Zach Britton on Tuesday. The 9-year-old fourth-grader was one of 71 students from City Springs Elementary School who came to Dave & Buster's at the Arundel Mills Mall for the 33rd Annual Orioles REACH Holiday Party for Kids. She met a bunch of Orioles past and present, including Britton. That's when she asked for his autograph. On her left arm. "At first, when I asked him to sign my arm, he was kind of bewildered, confused," she said with a sly smile. "But he did it." Britton admitted the request threw him for a moment. But the left-hander signed his name perfectly on Ma'Shae's left forearm, which she proudly displayed a few minutes later. "I've never really signed anyone's arm before," Britton said with a laugh. "But as long as they're having fun." Players like Britton, Jeremy Guthrie, Jake Arrieta and Brian Roberts, along with manager Buck Showalter, were there and did a number of things with the children. They played various games in the arcade room and talked about everything while connecting like kids making new friends. Several of the players served as waiters for the children when they sat at their tables to eat lunch. The kids really enjoyed being served by professional baseball players, and the players were having some fun, too. "It's a great party," Guthrie said. "The kids are super excited, and the Orioles do a great job." In addition, former Orioles Al Bumbry, Dave Johnson, Larry Sheets and Scott McGregor also came out to have some fun. Johnson saw how much popularity can come from dressing up as Santa Claus and helping to give out presents while the other alumni mingled. Andy Frankel was one of the teachers from City Springs and understood why his children were having a good time. Frankel used to serve as the director of media relations for the Bowie Baysox, the Orioles' longtime Double-A affiliate. "It's such a great thing for our students," Frankel said. "They don't get a chance very often to do these things -- go to Orioles games, and they've been talking about it for weeks. I'm sure they're going to be talking about it for weeks to come." The children also made out very well with holiday presents. Each student received a bunch of new gifts. Also helping out was Nick and Christina Markakis' The Right Side Foundation, which made a financial contribution to the party and provided the book, "The Polar Express," plus a baseball glove for each child. McGregor always enjoys coming to the party and interacting with the children. He even wore his 1983 World Series ring, even though none of the children showed much interest in it. "They obviously identify with the current guys more than me," McGregor said with a laugh. "It's just fun. It's Christmas. Baseball is coming. You can't beat it." Ma'Shae Green certainly would agree with that. While all of her friends were looking at their presents, she was still showing off her newly autographed arm. It wasn't a big surprise, but she said that Britton now was her favorite player. "Hey, I made one fan today," Britton said with a smile.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.