Ross Campbell learned his lesson, and then some. On a connecting flight from the Dominican Republic via New York, Campbell arrived in Portland, Oregon, with the startling realization that Dillon had not.
Campbell, the general manager of Portland Pickles, had decided that Dillon would ride in the cargo hold – because, well, Dillon is a seven-foot-tall pickle and the mascot of the wooden bat summer baseball team. No matter how lively Dillon seemed, his winning smile and baseball cap perched against his noggin, a ride with other passengers would attract attention.
But Dillon was lost. And once Delta finally returned the critical cargo to Portland’s Walker Stadium, it was stolen from the front stoop before returning nearly 10 days later.
“He’s not allowed in the cargo hold anymore,” Campbell said.
So this time, when Campbell booked a flight to Baltimore for him and Dylan the Pickle, Dylan found his way into the main cabin.
“He’s ready to take his normal seat,” Campbell said. “I mean, we don’t really have a choice.”
And when asked if Dillon would be placed in an overhead bin or dressed in whatever mascot is normally inside, Campbell was puzzled.
“what does mean?” They said. “It’s a pickle. Nobody wears it.”
The cross-country journey for Dillon The Pickle has a purpose, though, to unite pickle people. It’s also a chance for Dillon to enjoy a better experience on the East Coast, avoiding the trauma of being lost luggage and Fridays between 4pm and 7:30pm at Pickles Pub outside Camden Yards. It’s a chance to party with Orioles fans.
The following day, Dillon will make an appearance at The Big Dill Pickle Festival in Baltimore. Dillon was not available to comment for this story, as he cannot speak. But Campbell assures Dillon has had the opportunity to “get it in situations around other pickled people.”
The connection between the Portland Pickles and the Orioles isn’t as random as it seems. Alan Miller, owner of Pickles, became an Orioles fan at age 10 in Los Angeles. He was tired of watching all the California baseball teams, so he turned on the television and watched Cal Ripken Jr. play.
He was bent over.
“I can’t believe I did this to myself,” Miller said.
But there was no way back for him, so he was mired through the 1988 loss and the turn-of-the-century postseason drought and further losing streaks during a full-scale rebuild. He offered his son, then 10, an out, giving him a free pass to become a Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees fan.
“It’s going to be easy,” Miller said. “And he said, ‘No, I want to be an O’s fan.’ So I feel very bad for him.”
The change this season, though, has been a welcome one for father and son, who watch every Orioles game on TV or listen to it on the radio, even during pickleball season, which runs from June to August.
“I’ve always wanted to find a way to support the Orioles however we can, so as Pickles and Dillons and a lot of our stuff is becoming more and more popular, I really want to reach out and be a supporter. Let’s do what we can,” Miller said. “Fortunately or unfortunately, we’re into the O’s, and so we made Dillon The Pickle a big Orioles fan.”
They also have a hometown favorite in catcher Edley Ritsman, who grew up in nearby Sherwood, Oregon and starred for Oregon State. While he played summer ball for Pickles’ rival Corvallis Knights, some of Rutschman’s family members attend Pickles games, and Rutschman held a youth clinic with Pickles last year.
Dillon The Pickle’s legend is growing fast, which is why he has a strong desire to connect with his fans. On Twitter, he A funny picture has gone viral Misinterpreted as an exhibition of Dillon’s pickles to the world.
“Mascot grabs are always a bad idea on social media, which we learned very quickly,” Campbell said. “Dillon causes us more trouble than good sometimes, but at the end of the day he represents our team the best. We want to connect with as many people as possible, and we want to show people that Dylan is awesome.” The city of Portland is awesome and it’s fun to have fun, and we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously every day.
“Dillon wants to connect with as many fans as possible, and this was one of his campaigns,” continued Campbell. “He just decided to send a thumbs up to all his fans, and of course it was taken in a very different direction and interpreted very differently than originally intended. But Dillon is a good one.
It’s the shenanigans that helped Dillon become famous, along with the annual interest from The Big Dill Pickle Festival. Eventually, they made it work, with Dillon The Pickle scheduled as a guest judge to hand out Pickles gear along with his stand.
And as an Orioles fan who has enjoyed Pickles Pub before, Miller felt it was important to combine The Big Dill Pickle Festival with a trip to the famous Orioles bar. So Dillon will be wearing the Orioles home run chain after safely navigating the plane trip there on Friday.
“He’ll take pictures with people and give out some stuff, and try to get a feel for Orioles fans,” Campbell said. “And I think Orioles fans will do a good job of turning his fandom into a Baltimore fan.”
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