It has been an eventful week in Birdland for Orioles fans as news broke on Tuesday evening that John Angelos sold his majority stake of the team to a private equity firm which includes Cal Ripken Jr. amongst other very rich men. The sale has been widely celebrated by Orioles fans as the Angelos regime has brought many troubling storylines and controversies. Amongst nothing else, the ownership change brings a change of leadership to Baltimore which is a welcome sight for fans, and likely players and employees.
Also in the news over the past several weeks, the Orioles recently announced their promotional schedule for the 2024 season which includes replica jerseys, Hawaiian shirts, and bobbleheads. This season the Orioles will have five bobblehead giveaways from April until August. As I explained in my version of this article last year, if there is one thing I am as passionate about as the Baltimore Orioles and baseball in general, it is niche collections that many would consider childish and dumb.
I have lost track of how many bobbleheads are currently in my collection, but I did receive a Felix Bautista bobblehead for Christmas which I have sitting on my desk as we speak. I am sure I will add at least one more Orioles bobblehead before the year ends (along with a Bryce Young bobblehead because I have unfortunately been cursed with the irredeemable fate of Charlotte sports fandom) and I will likely add that bobblehead from the 2024 giveaways. Without further ado, here are the bobbleheads ranked by how likely I am to add them to my collection.
Ranking the Orioles 2024 Bobblehead Giveaways
1. #1- Brandon Hyde Manager of the Year Bobblehead (April 27)
As you will learn throughout this article, bobbleheads that have some form of significance outside of just a figurine depicting a player or coach are my favorites. The Orioles begin their giveaway season with a bang as their first bobblehead of the season is also one of the most significant.
Nothing signifies this version of the Orioles more than figures who have seen the team at the absolute bottom and have stuck it out and seen success on the other end. Any Orioles fan who watched the team on a nightly basis from 2019-2021 will agree that there is no one more deserving of his flowers than Brandon Hyde after a historic turnaround that saw the O's win 101 games and the division two years after a 110-loss season. Hyde earned his keep and was rewarded with Manager of the Year honors in 2023, beating out a Hall of Famer in Bruce Bochy and Kevin Cash.
The recognition of Hyde's success and his embodiment of perseverance makes him an obvious choice to recognize in the bobblehead format. Along with his on-the-field success, it is clear that Hyde is beloved in the Orioles clubhouse as players recognize his passion and grit which has made him a favorite in Birdland.
His postgame speech after the Orioles clinched their first postseason berth since 2016 in a walk-off win over the Rays was easily one of my favorite moments of the season as the players rallied around him and celebrated with him. Winning over the respect of a young clubhouse that has not had much MLB success is a vital role for a successful manager and it is clear that Hyde has done that. He has certainly won over many fans as we enter 2024 in hopes of continued regular season and new-found Postseason success.
2. #2- Anthony Santander Walkoff Bobblehead (June 1)
Speaking of earning your flowers after persevering through some of the worst times in recent history for the Orioles, Anthony Santander has earned his keep just as much as Hyde. He joined the O's as a Rule-five pick in 2017 and struggled through some injury-shortened and offensively challenged seasons before taking over and becoming a fan favorite and perennial top of the order bat for the O's.
Despite a mediocre 2019 season, Santander became an everyday player and top-of-the-order bat simply on account that someone had to do it. The Orioles cycled through many subpar corner outfielders that season that just simply did not stick (Dwight Smith Jr. says hi) despite the opportunities, but Santander was good enough and rewarded the O's with a breakout 2020 campaign and solid play in the three seasons since.
Along with successful on-field play, Santander has won over fans and teammates through his fun-loving spirit which has been a steady presence in a clubhouse that has experienced so much change in the last three-to-five years. His antics allowed him to become Britain's favorite baseball player in August 2019 and one of my favorite postgame interviews on MASN. This particular bobblehead is commemorating a walk-off homer Santander hit against the Yankees in a 1-0 win last July. This walkoff occurred on a Friday night when the Orioles wore their city connect jerseys which adds an extra layer to this collectable, and the emotion shown by Santander after the blast is shown through the figurine, which is also an extra reason to add this to your collection.
3. #3- Mr. Splash Bobblehead (May 10)
One of the most exciting revelations of the 2023 season was the emergence of Mr. Splash and all of the water-related celebrations used by the players and adopted by fans. The revelation began as Orioles players would celebrate each of their hits with a water-themed venture. After a single, the hitter would turn to the Orioles dugout and motion as if he was turning on a water faucet.
After a double or triple, the hitter would break into the sprinkler dance while many players, mostly pitchers who were not pitching that day, would emulate a fountain by spitting a stream of water out of their mouth. The home run celebration to match this was concocted about a month into the season when several players the best way to continue the celebration was by pouring water through a hose and making the home run hitter take a drink from the hose. This tradition began with a home run from Ryan Mountcastle in a home game against the Oakland Athletics in late April which immediately went viral.
The existence of Mr. Splash was another creation thought of by several players and adopted by the Orioles marketing department. Essentially, Mr. Splash sat in a gap in the wall in left field in front of a section of fans and would involve fans with the waterworks. After each extra-base hit, Mr. Splash would spray fans in that section with a hose which became yet another tradition that reached social media virality.
Excuse the awful pun, but Mr. Splash came in with a splash as his second game in existence was the same game that Cedric Mullins hit a cycle against the Pittsburgh Pirates which was capped off by a home run onto the flag court in the eighth inning.
Needless to say, Mr. Splash is a perfect metaphor for the magical 2023 season in Baltimore. Even though the team did not win a Postseason game, the team exceeded everyone's expectations and defied the odds all season as they overcame a seemingly impossible early deficit in the AL East. Having a collectible figurine that so perfectly captures this magic and the awesome vibes that encompassed Camden Yards all season is a great bobblehead for fans and collectors alike.
4. #4- Gunnar Henderson Bobblehead (August 23)
There is a pretty sizable gap between the top three bobbleheads on this list and the bottom two. That is not to say that Gunnar Henderson is undeserving of recognition because that could not be further from the truth. However, this bobblehead does not seem to recognize anything notable about Gunnar other than his image.
Henderson was a unanimous Rookie of the Year winner last season after destroying baseballs left and right through the summer months and will look to be a strong hitter in the lineup for years to come. As I said, there is so much to celebrate about Gunnar Henderson that using this opportunity to create a standard bobblehead for him feels like a missed opportunity.
All this being said, this is the last bobblehead giveaway of the season and the prototype has not been released yet, so the O's may capitalize on his Rookie of the Year status. Another idea for this bobblehead would be to capture him hitting his first career homer on his MLB debut in August 2022. In that home run, Henderson swung out of his helmet and rounded the bases with a luscious mane flowing in the Cleveland wind. Utilizing either of these moments would be an awesome use of Gunnar's first MLB bobblehead.
5. #5- Adley Rutschman Switch-Hitter Bobblehead (July 28)
It feels like there are already ten different Adley Rutschman bobbleheads in circulation as Oregon State released a football version, each Orioles affiliate released one, and the Orioles released a Rutschman bobblehead just last season. The Orioles will add yet another Adley bobblehead to the universe on July 28th with a bit of a wrinkle. This version will have two Adleys, one from each side of the plate. The Orioles are certainly taking the "More the Merrier" cliche to heart when it comes to miniature Adley Rutschman.
I understand the idea that the Orioles are going for here. Adley is a stud from both sides of the plate and he proved this with his performance in the Home Run Derby this year where he hit home runs from both sides despite a first round loss to Luis Robert. Still, this figure is uninspiring for my collector self but should certainly draw fans to the ballpark so it is a good marketing decision nonetheless.