NORFOLK, Va. — Tides manager Buck Britton didn’t have time to practice his speech.

He had been told just prior to the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate’s game April 9 that Jackson Holliday, the No. 1 prospect in baseball, was being called up to the majors. In theory, there were still nine innings for him to perfect his delivery, but he was, you know, a tad busy managing the team.

At least he had plenty of experience to draw from. One of his cherished duties as a Triple-A manager is telling a player he’s going to the major leagues. Sometimes Britton can think through how he’s going to deliver the news. Other times, like this moment, it’s a mad rush.

As soon as the game ended, Britton bolted for his office. He set up his trusty iPad in the corner, then called Holliday in.

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Lights, camera, action.

Britton started by commending Holliday for how he carried himself. Then he asked about his father, seven-time All-Star Matt Holliday.

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“Tonight, I want you to call your Dad,” Britton told him. “I want you to talk to him, and I want you to thank him for all the times he allowed you to come into the clubhouse, be on his pass list, let you hit with the big boys. That’s pretty special, and it plays into a lot of what you’re about. The second thing I want you to tell him is, now, it’s time for him to ask permission to be on Jackson Holliday’s pass list.”

By this point, Holliday knew what was coming, but he wasn’t going to relax until he heard the words. Britton knew this, so he paused for dramatic effect.

Then he delivered the news.

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“You are going to the big leagues,” Britton told Holliday. “Congratulations, call your dad.”

Cue the smile, hugs and, of course, the phone call. While Holliday soaked in the life-changing news, Britton sent the video to the Orioles social media team. It amassed 2.3 million views on X, in addition to being picked up by most major sports outlets.

Britton, once again, had gone viral.

This has been par for the course for Britton. It’s not just the caliber of player being called up, but also the heartwarming and personalized way Britton delivers the news.

“They’re always so cool,” Britton said. “We’ll be tied together forever. Whenever they reminisce about when they got called up, I’ll always be a part of that with them. They are all awesome.”

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His first call-up in 2019 was his most chaotic. Britton, then the manager of Double-A Bowie, was in Binghamton, New York, when he got a call from the Orioles, who were on the West Coast. They wanted Dillion Tate to join them on the road trip and needed him to leave as soon as possible.

So off Britton went at 2 a.m., banging on hotel doors to wake up Tate. When there was no answer, Britton started to panic.

“I was like, ‘I can’t get a hold of this guy. What do I do?’” he said.

Finally, Tate opened the door and Britton, because of the time and urgency, told him straight away he was heading to the big leagues.

The moments only became tenser from there. In 2022, Less than two months into his new role with the Tides, Britton was tasked with telling Adley Rutschman, then the top prospect in baseball and the hope of an entire fan base, that he was heading to Baltimore.

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Britton was nervous. This was a franchise-changing moment, and he had strict instructions to make sure everything, from the camera setup to the delivery, went smoothly.

For this call-up, he left the door to this office open. He sat Rutschman down after a game and started to have a heart-to-heart chat with the catcher.

“We’re not looking for a hero,” Britton told him. “Be Adley Rutschman.”

Then the first of what would become many viral lines: “The regular Adley Rutschman is plenty. Especially when you are going to Camden Yards and you are going to play in the big leagues for the first time.”

In came the rush of teammates, led by a screaming DJ Stewart. That video has 91,000 views on YouTube.

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“Once the player comes in, I just hope it comes out rated G and that it’s worth something,” Britton said. “That was the face of the franchise. ... You only get one opportunity to do this; there’s no timeout. ‘Can you go back outside so I can regroup?’”

That went smoothly. As did the one for Gunnar Henderson, who got called up in late 2022. Henderson was walking by Britton’s office, on his way to grab a burger, when Britton pulled him into his office. For this moment, he told Henderson the schedule for the upcoming week.

“But those plans change sometimes,” Britton told him. “Especially when you are going to go meet the team in Cleveland to make your major league debut.”

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Henderson was all smiles. It’s not hard to make him smile, though. But it is difficult to get Jordan Westburg to crack one. Last May, Westburg was struggling in Triple-A and sat with Britton to express his frustrations.

He wanted to get to the big leagues so badly. And, a month later, Britton got to tell Westburg it was his turn.

When the video went out, the internet was confused why Westburg didn’t show any emotion. But Britton saw the corners of Westburg’s mouth turn up, and that was enough validation for him.

“He smiled; he doesn’t do that much,” Britton said. “They are all special, but that was cool.”

Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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