Baltimore Orioles: Collector Ranks the 2023 Bobblehead Giveaways
On Thursday, the Baltimore Orioles unveiled their full promotional schedule for the 2023 season. While many fans flip through the schedule and may look for when there will be a postgame concert or fireworks show that their family can enjoy, I always seek out which bobbleheads will be given away during the season, and when. Many baseball fans enjoy bobblehead giveaways because they represent a miniature version of their favorite players that they can display in their office or living room.
Baltimore Orioles: Ranking the 2023 Bobblehead Giveaways
While bobbleheads are popular for kids and adults alike, not many enjoy bobblehead collections in the same way I do. My first ever bobblehead was a Buck Showalter giveaway I received when I went to my first ever Orioles game in 2011 and since then, I have accumulated more than fifty of these mini figurines for my collection that I display proudly. I have many past and current Orioles players such as Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman, and Adam Jones in bobblehead form and I look to add to that this season. Unfortunately, given my life circumstances, it is unlikely that I find my way to Camden Yards this season. However, I have accumulated many of the stadium giveaway bobbleheads through eBay and I will continue to do so. All that being said, here is my list of bobblehead giveaways for this season based on how likely I am to add each to my collection.
1. Adley Rutschman Captain America Bobblehead (June 10)
Entering 2023, Adley Rutschman collectibles are a hot commodity for O's fans and general baseball fans alike. Rutschman's debut was the most anticipated Orioles MLB debut since Manny Machado in 2012 and his rookie season did not disappoint as he helped the Orioles to their best season since 2016 and finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting to Julio Rodriguez in Seattle.
That being said, since Rutschman was the number one overall pick in the 2019 draft and the number one overall prospect by most lists leading up to his debut, Rutschman bobbleheads are not unique and the O's giveaway on June 10th will be the sixth publicly available Adley bobblehead. The Delmarva Shorebirds are mostly responsible since they have given away three different Rutschman bobbleheads. The Norfolk Tides and Bowie Baysox have also given away an Adley bobblehead, although Bowie's is unique because the bobblehead involves him kicking a football in an Oregon State jersey as he spent a season in Corvallis as the team's placekicker.
Despite the commonness of Adley bobbleheads, each version is highly sought after due to Rutschman's stardom as the cheapest one I can find on eBay is $40 before shipping. The giveaway on June 10th will likely be the most anticipated bobblehead giveaway of the season as it involves Adley and is a themed bobblehead. Along with the bobblehead, June 10th is also Marvel Night at Camden Yards which should draw a diverse group of fans and the bobblehead should draw close to a sellout crowd for the first Saturday home game in June. Themed bobbleheads are always a great sell in general and the Captain America theme should draw crowds of more than baseball fans to the yard that night.
2. Eddie Murray 1983 World Series Bobblehead (August 5)
2023 is the 40th anniversary of the team's most recent World Series champions and the O's will commemorate the occasion on August 5th with the Eddie Murray bobblehead giveaway. Similar to Rutschman, there is no shortage of bobbleheads for the Hall of Famer and eight-time All-Star. Murray spent more than half of his 20-year career in Baltimore and finished second in MVP voting in 1983 and was the best hitter on the team during the first half of the 1980s. The O's have done a good job in recognizing star players of their past as they have given away bobbleheads of Jim Palmer, Boog Powell, and Brooks Robinson in recent seasons and these giveaways have drawn large crowds to Camden Yards for fans to celebrate some of their Hall of Famers and former MVP winners.
This giveaway should draw a large crowd to Camden Yards for a Saturday night game against the Mets on August 5th. As I mentioned, bobblehead giveaways commemorating Orioles legends often draw well and are popular amongst the older Orioles fan population. This giveaway is also special since it is the 40th anniversary of a World Series champion and the most recent team to bring a World Series title to Charm City.
Eddie Murray’s bobblehead night will be a must-attend event for the longest-tenured Baltimore Orioles fans.
Last season, I was in St. Louis as the Cardinals commemorated their 1982 World Series team by giving away a Bruce Sutter/Darrel Porter combination bobblehead that drew a sellout crowd to Busch Stadium in an early August game against the Brewers. The Cardinals also invited every member of the 1982 championship team and most living players returned, including Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, to much fanfare. Hopefully the Orioles follow a similar path on August 5th and invite members of the 1983 team to Camden Yards. It would certainly be a bonus if the Orioles were also having another successful season and were on their way to their first Postseason appearance in seven years.
3. Felix Bautista Bobblehead (August 26)
While this is not a themed bobblehead or a giveaway commemorating a past legend, this is the bobblehead I am most likely to purchase on eBay after the fact since it commemorates the most surprising success story of the 2022 season for the Orioles. After trading away Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline, Bautista took over as the O's closer and had an immensely successful campaign as he had 15 saves over the last two months of the season and finished the year with a 183 ERA+ in 65 appearances. Bautista quickly emerged as a fan favorite in Baltimore due to his overpowering stuff and his playful and fun-loving attitude. The O's have struggled to find a consistent closer since trading Zack Britton in 2018 as they have cycled through pitchers such as Cole Sulser, Cesar Valdez, and Hunter Harvey to little success. Bautista has flipped the trend and will enter 2023 as the team's closer and will hope to repeat his successful 2022 campaign. Another aspect of Bautista that instantly made him a fan favorite was the relationship he and Rutschman had throughout the season.
Unlike the other four bobbleheads given away in 2023, there is no Felix Bautista bobblehead currently in circulation which means that this giveaway is a unique opportunity for Orioles fans to add a player to their collections who was not at the top of any prospects lists and a player who is still largely unknown outside of Baltimore. Hopefully Bautista continues to be the dominant closer he was last season and can build himself a larger brand and a larger following of baseball fans across the country.
4. Ryan Mountcastle Bobblehead (May 27)
This is the first player bobblehead giveaway of the season and it features a player who has become an everyday player and one of the best pure hitters in the Orioles lineup. Mountcastle is another player who has become a fan favorite in Baltimore because of his fun-loving attitude and abilities on the diamond.
2023 will be Mountcastle's fourth season with the Orioles and he has hit well in each of his first three, with a combined slash line of .261/.315/.458 and 60 home runs in 324 games. The new dimensions at Camden Yards have hurt his home run hitting ability as he hit eleven less homers in 2022 than 2021 in essentially the same amount of games. However, Mountcastle has shown the ability to overpower the ridiculous dimensions on several occasions as he hit the ball over "The Great Wall of Baltimore" as some fans have dubbed it. The O's do not have much depth at first base so Ryan will be asked once again to anchor the position for the full season.
Ultimately, this giveaway is one of those "safe" giveaways for the Orioles since Mountcastle is a consistent, everyday player for the team and is only 25 years old and still three years away from free agency. In the past, the O's have had to scramble because they lost a player that they originally scheduled a bobblehead giveaway for. For example, in August 2018, the O's had a Kevin Gausman Game of Thrones themed bobblehead giveaway scheduled but they ultimately had to scrap the giveaway because Gausman was traded at the deadline to the Atlanta Braves. Last season, the Guardians also fell victim as they had a bobblehead giveaway for Franmil Reyes scheduled but cancelled because Reyes was designated for assignment the week before the scheduled giveaway. This should not be an issue as the O's are not likely to trade away or release one of their core young hitters as the team looks to compete for a playoff spot next season.
5. Oriole Bird Nickelodeon Bobblehead (April 9)
Who doesn't love the Oriole Bird? The mascot can be seen dancing on top of the O's dugout with a lucky fan to "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" during the 7th inning stretch of every home game and is often seen interacting with young fans throughout the stadium and incorporating his own version of Oriole Magic to fans. That being said, Oriole Bird bobbleheads are somehow even more common than Adley Rutschman figurines.
This specific version, given out during Opening Weekend, features the Bird covered in Nickelodeon themed slime and is only given out to fans 14 years old and younger. The giveaway is an attempt to get families to The Yard for the first Sunday home game of the season and also a way to attract the youngest demographic to Orioles fandom. This is a valiant attempt by the Orioles to do just that. Baseball fandom starts at a young age, as it did for me, and bobbleheads are a good way to engage young fans. I was already a big baseball fan when I received my first ever bobblehead in 2011, but the display of Buck Showalter in my bedroom helped reinforce my Orioles fandom through that season and likely for the rest of my life.
Ultimately, I rank this bobblehead the lowest because it is not necessarily appealing to me, as a soon-to-be 20 year old college student. This isn't necessarily a collector's item like the other four, but this bobblehead is appealing certain segments of the Baltimore population and I commend the Orioles for their continued effort in drawing the next generation to the Orioles.