Leidos Field And The Ironbirds Provide So Much To Harford County
Since 2002, Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium has hosted the Aberdeen IronBirds, the low-A short-season affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. For the better part of two decades, Harford Countians have been able to spend their summers enjoying quality baseball at a reasonable price in a family-friendly atmosphere. But aside from baseball, Leidos Field and the IronBirds provide so much more to the county than just a terrific venue to catch a good game.
“Most importantly, really, is to be the most civically minded, the most civically oriented business in Harford County,” said IronBirds’ General Manager, Jack Graham. “That has been our goal for three seasons now since Matt Slatus (former GM) got here. If you are a 501 (c3) or if you’re a non-profit community organization in the county, we will never turn you down for a donation request.”
Graham, originally drafted in 2012 out of Slippery Rock University by the Orioles in the 38th round of the First Year Amateur Player Draft, spent a season playing for the IronBirds before moving to a front office roll with the team after the 2013 season. Some could say its been a pretty meteoric rise for the 29-year-old Virginia native.
“At first I worked for the Ripken Experience youth baseball tournament company,” Graham said. “After about 18 months I applied for a job basically on the other side of the hallway with the Aberdeen IronBirds to fill an operations position that had been vacated by the previous assistant general manager. Now here we are, three baseball seasons later, I’ve had the opportunity to step into the General Manager role with Matt Slatus having left in the middle of August for a position in Palm Beach.”
With his new promotion, Graham has picked up where Slatus left off, taking that civically oriented mindset and really running with it.
“We give over 750 donations a year, and that number is going up because people know they can count on the IronBirds to give tickets, to give bobbleheads, to give little knick-knacks for bull roasts, auctions, raffles and things like that. We need to be the most visible organization in Harford County because we are the most recognizable organization in Harford County.”
In addition to the donations that the IronBirds give at a simple request, they are also a very charitable organization. There are multiple ballpark initiatives that take place during home games at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium that help the community.
“This year, the ‘Cook Auto Home Runs for the Boys & Girls Club’ initiative. Every time the IronBirds hit a home run at Ripken Stadium, Cook Auto donated $100 to the Boys & Girls Club,” mentioned Graham. “We had a ‘Hits for Healthy Kids’ program where Freedom Federal Credit Union gave $10 (to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health pediatric services) for every hit the IronBirds had in Ripken Stadium.”
In addition to those initiatives, the IronBirds also had three charitable partners with whom they worked with and promoted as their charities of choice at the ballpark: SARC, a domestic violence charity that works with victims of domestic violence and abuse in Harford County; The Arc, who advocate for people with differing disabilities to be able to find and obtain employment skills and abilities and employment itself; and The Miracle league, an organization that provides opportunities for children with disabilities to play Miracle League baseball. For The Miracle League, the IronBirds partnered up with Plaza Ford in donating $1 from every ticket sold for the Plaza Ford Party Deck to the foundation.
For Jack Graham and the Aberdeen IronBirds, community comes first, and after speaking with Mr. Graham, that much is evident. When asked about the efforts in the community, Graham replied, “What I want the community to know, really, is that we are constantly striving to be the most fun, safe, and clean family-friendly environment that we can be in Harford County, and we’re listening.”
*To give Jack Graham and the Aberdeen IronBirds your input, please comment on the video on the Aberdeen IronBirds official Facebook page.