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Orioles make history with Braille jerseys

Posted: 6:10 PM, Sep 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-18 18:16:05-04

Although the Orioles are having a losing season, they are taking the lead as the first team in American professional sports history to incorporate Braille lettering into game day jerseys. 

"For us to be the first is really cool to bring awareness to the cause," Orioles pitcher Mike Wright said.

The jerseys celebrate the 40th anniversary of the National Federation of the Blind moving its headquarters to Baltimore. 

The team, the federation and fans are excited about the statement. The first 15,000 people to the game got free Braille alphabet cards handed out by members from the federation. 

"A lot of times, we are approaching people about Braille and we are excited that the Orioles generated the idea," President of the federation, Mark Riccobono said.

He's throwing out the first pitch at the game, with a mix of excitement and nervousness. 

"As a blind person, when you step up to do anything really there are often people who expect very little of you, so there's a little bit of pressure being in the spotlight representing blind people," Riccobono said.

After the game, the jerseys will be autographed, authenticated and auctioned off to raise money for the federation. They plan to use the money to promote their Braille literacy programs, which includes giving Braille books to kids and outreach to families.

"This time of year we even start thinking about a special program we have to provide blind children with Braille letters from Santa Claus," Riccobono said.

He hopes this breaks down perceptions about Braille, that it's not a language, but a code equivalent to print. And what better place to do it than at the ball park?

"I'm a baseball fan at heart. Even in the worst of times, it's still great to get out to the ball park," Riccobono said.

"Obviously we are having a rough season but things like this actually help keep it in perspective that a lot of times, it's bigger than the games and that will just be important to know going into today," Wright said. 

In recognition of the historic use of Braille lettering, one of the jerseys will also be sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The federation hopes it sparks other teams to follow the Orioles' lead. The game against the Toronto Blue Jays starts at 7:05.