Melanie Newman muted her mic, not letting the flood of emotion and celebratory arm flailing interrupt a red-faced Geoff Arnold in the middle of his call.

Arnold, working play-by-play on WBAL News Radio that September day when the Orioles clinched a playoff berth, was nearly out of breath. With two outs in the ninth inning, infielder Adam Frazier’s game-tying double set the stage for a walk-off victory later, a champagne celebration in the clubhouse and a trip to the postseason after the grind of a rebuild.

“This game is tied!” Arnold shouted thrice. Newman held her hands over her mouth. Reese Levin, WBAL’s sound producer, put his hands on his head once he was done fiddling with volume levels.

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That snippet replays in Tyler Hoffberger’s mind. The Orioles’ vice president of creative content, Hoffberger goes back to that scene — that emotion — as his favorite part of a movie set to release Wednesday on YouTube, recapping a magical 2023 Orioles season.

“Seeing Geoff and Melanie in their element, and Reese, for me, that is emblematic of what this piece is all about, and the storytelling that this team does,” Hoffberger said. “It just shows fans and non-fans the experience of Orioles baseball in a way that you don’t get to see just by watching the games on TV or just by being at the ballpark.”

Watch on YouTube

The behind-the-scenes movie, named “101: The Story of the 2023 Baltimore Orioles,” runs about one and a half hours and will premiere at 7 p.m. Wednesday on YouTube and the Orioles’ official website.

The process to create it, however, began last offseason, in the winter months when the successful nature of the 2023 campaign was far from certain. Since Hoffberger joined the organization in 2018, the Orioles have built out their in-team creative video department. Nicole Reighter, the associate director of cinematography who joined in 2022, was an integral piece of the unit that would go on to create the documentary.

Reighter and the video team started collecting footage in spring training with the goal of creating a season recap by year’s end. Then the magic of the season started to take shape. They followed through 162 games, capturing center fielder Cedric Mullins’ home-run robbery — and his subsequent home run — at T-Mobile Park in Seattle and the clinch and both clubhouse celebrations. They traveled to Arlington, Texas, where the Orioles’ season ended in a loss to the Texas Rangers in the American League Division Series.

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That created an imposing challenge: finding the best pieces of film to tell the story of Baltimore’s first 100-win season since 1980.

“If we included every single game, I think it would’ve ended up being like four hours, if not longer,” Reighter said.

Over two and a half months, Reighter and others pored through the video and identified the games that were must-haves, such as when Baltimore clinched the American League East. They circled big moments throughout the season, too, ensuring the entirety was featured in a digestible size.

And to supplement the visuals, interviews with players, coaches and broadcasters conducted throughout the season were worked into the telling, offering background or explanation of the moments playing out in the movie.

Cedric Mullins #31 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a two-run home run during the tenth inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Aug. 13, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. The Baltimore Orioles won 5-3 in ten innings. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

“Taking bits and pieces of what certain players did and crafting it to fit our story, and the story of the season, but not having it have to be, like, ‘OK, this was Game 1. Now let’s do Game 2 and then Game 3,’” Reighter said.

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Added Hoffberger: “From the people behind the scenes, the coaches, the players, all the work that really culminated with what this season ended up being, Nicole did a fantastic job weaving those themes throughout this narrative.”

The Orioles plan for more long-form video production in the future to tell the stories of their players, similar to how they featured left-hander DL Hall’s background and upbringing in a video package released almost a year ago.

They also feel Wednesday is the right time to release this movie about the 2023 season. The Birdland Caravan arrives at the end of the month, and fans can purchase tickets for a special viewing of the documentary on Jan. 25 at The Charles Theatre in Station North. Spring training is a little more than a month away.

Before long, the 2024 campaign will arrive, and the Orioles hope the excitement from 2023 rolls over into the new year.

“Getting fans excited about the possibility of things happening in the future, but then also not forgetting what we did accomplish this year,” Reighter said.

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“It’s certainly the hope that people will be reinvigorated by this,” Hoffberger said.

At this point, Reighter has watched the full movie more times through than she can recall in the production and editing process. But each time, without fail, the ending sits with her long after the screen goes dark.

She hopes as fans relive the 2023 season, they will have a similar feeling.

“I still get chills just watching the end of the season,” Reighter said, “and just listening back to some of the things the players and coaches say about this team.”

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville. 

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