Mr. Splash hasn’t changed uniforms, even as the days get shorter, the evenings grow colder and the clientele around him in Section 86 at Camden Yards add more layers of clothing. He’s still standing there, near the corner of the bullpen, wearing his shorts, T-shirt and snorkeling gear, ready to spray or shiver — or both.
The Bird Bath splash zone at Camden Yards became an instant sensation over the summer. A player-proposed idea, it took form in May and hit its stride as the humidity ramped up. As fans shrieked their approval for runs and extra-base hits, Mr. Splash sprayed, and it served the additional purpose of cooling off the fan base.
It’s different now, even though Mr. Splash’s outfield hasn’t changed. First pitch Sunday came with shadows already stretching across most sections, and the announced temperature was 60 degrees.
It’s getting colder. And the spray of water with that colder air?
“It’s gonna be a shock to our system, but we’re here to support the O’s, whatever it takes,” said Brian Seymour, who flew from Florida to attend Game 2 of the American League Division Series. “If we get soaked, that’s what it takes for a win.”
For many within the splash zone, they entered Sunday’s game more than willing to accept the prospect of soaked clothing in the growing chill. To be wet, they presumed, was to be winning.
“I’d be glad to be leaving this game soaking wet, ’cause that means the O’s got a win,” said Ryan Warren, a Canton resident who attended the most recent Camden Yards postseason experience in 2014. “I’m looking forward to it. Maybe after the game, when it’s a little chilly, I’ll have a different answer. But right now I’m looking forward to it.”
The Bird Bath gained ground early in the season as a play off Baltimore’s various water-themed celebrations. The Orioles turn on the faucet when they reach first. Doubles and triples warrant the sprinkler. There’s the Homer Hose for rapid rehydration after a trip around the bases.
Left-hander Cole Irvin’s joke to add a splash zone planted the kernel. Catcher James McCann and left-hander Keegan Akin agreed: The idea was a winner. They took it to the marketing team, “And don’t ya know, here we are in May with a Bird Bath splash zone,” McCann said then.
The section has been near or at capacity throughout the season. It brings energy to the outfielders. And, in the postseason, it is a coveted ticket.
Kami and Nick, Orioles fans from Eldersburg, have been to several games this year but couldn’t land a ticket in the splash zone until this week.
“The hype of it all, honestly,” made Kami jump on the tickets as soon as she saw a space was available. “We’re gonna be in the Bird Bath, we’re gonna be with Mr. Splash, and it’s gonna be a good time,” said Kami, who wore an inflatable penguin while Nick had a duck version around his waist.
Others lucked into it. Jonathan Meza, a Rangers fan who grew up in Texas but now lives in Arlington, Virginia, bought tickets for himself and Warren. It took 15 seconds, Warren said, for him to realize what Section 86 meant.
“I had no idea what we were in for today,” Meza said. “I hope there’s not a lot of reason to get showered, but if we do, I’m excited for the experience. You can’t root against either team. As long as whoever wins this series beats the Astros, that’s all I care about.”
Plus, Meza quickly came around on the idea of experiencing a postseason game in the rowdiest section of the ballpark. He recalls attending the Rangers’ World Series in 2011 as an 18-year-old. At the time, he thought big moments such as those would become commonplace for his club.
“It’s just not,” Meza said. “You never know when you’ll get another opportunity, so you just have to lean into every chance you possibly can.”
That’s what brought Seymour and Paul Hamilton up from Florida, where they met Ryan Carpenter and Morgan — who met with the group through the dating app Bumble.
“You could’ve lied,” Hamilton laughed. He learned that her last name was Hug during the course of the interview.
Hug, for her part, didn’t want to miss this chance even though it meant hanging with random folks she had just met. Hug watches Orioles games on TV and knows what to expect from the Bird Bath.
“I’m ready for whatever,” Hug said.
Kami and Nick were also ready for whatever. Kami wore her water-resistant hunting pants. Nick had a change of clothes for later.
“The word is layers,” Kami said. “We’re ready for it.”
The colder weather wouldn’t dampen (or, in this case, dry) their October Bird Bath experience.