In an effort to reach out to the community and show support of their official airline, two Baltimore Orioles veteran pitchers, starter Jeremy Guthrie and reliever Jim Johnson, acted as Southwest Airlines “Sub-Ins” for a day at BWI Thursday afternoon.
Guthrie, Johnson and even the Oriole Bird checked in customers at the main terminal, greeted passengers, conducted the boarding procedure and even helped unload baggage from airplanes.
“It feels great to help out,” Guthrie said. “I fly Southwest Airlines all the time.”
Guthrie displayed a wonderful sense of humor while conducting a trivia game for passengers waiting to board a flight bound for West Palm Beach. Guthrie told customers he would accept cash payments for anyone with a B or C boarding pass who wished to board early.
The Orioles "ace" also handed out bobble-heads, autographed T-shirts and hats to passengers who answered questions correctly. He then asked an arriving customer, “Excuse me, did you fly in for the O’s game tonight?” which got a nice laugh from the gathering crowd.
Johnson, who is having his best season to date since his Oriole debut in 2006, spent most of his time outside helping the Oriole Bird with baggage before coming inside to sign autographs. The 6-foot 5-inch pitcher knows that after so many losing seasons, keeping the fans interested in the Orioles is important.
“Where we are, we need to keep our fan base and entertain them,” said Johnson. “We need to do everything we can to keep these fans loyal to us.”
“If you meet a couple young kids who turn out to be Orioles fans in the future then you’ve done your job. It’s worthwhile. It’s about creating future fans and it’s a good effort between us and Southwest but also people get to see us in unfamiliar territory.”
Johnson and Guthrie may have also won over a Red Sox fan, as Boston resident Aaron Edgin, 20, was in the terminal waiting to fly to Detroit.
“It was pretty cool,” Edgin said. “I didn’t expect to see them here.”
Acting as a liaison between Southwest Airlines and the Orioles was Ram Rodriguez, head of SWA marketing for Baltimore, who flew in from Southwest’s Dallas headquarters just for Thursday’s event.
“As far as a partnership with the Baltimore Orioles, it’s fantastic. We love them being a part of our community here in Baltimore,” Rodriguez said.
“Having Jim Johnson, Jeremy Guthrie and the Bird come out here and participate with our customers and have fun on a game night just demonstrates the partnership we have with the Orioles and our commitment to the community while providing a great travel experience to our customers. You never know what you’re going to get at Southwest Airlines.”