Baltimore Orioles and Sarasota County libraries join forces again in Big League Reader program

Youngsters age 6 and older may participate in opportunity to attend March 10 Spring Training game for free

The Orioles’ mascot, Bird, encourages youngsters to participate in the program. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Sarasota County once again is “going to bat with the Baltimore Orioles and the Big League Reader program to encourage youth literacy and foster a love of reading,” the county has announced.

Children who sign up at a county library and read three or more books during February will earn a free reserved grandstand ticket to the Orioles Spring Training game at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota on March 10, a county news release says.

Now in its seventh year, the Big League Reader program is a collaboration between the county’s public library system and the Orioles, the release points out.

The first 100 youngsters who finish the program also will receive a free T-shirt, the release notes. Additionally, Big League Readers will have the opportunity to enter their names into a drawing for the chance to throw out the first pitch of the March 10 game.

During the month of February, children ages 6 and older may visit any of the 10 Sarasota County libraries and pick up a Big League Reader scorecard to participate in the program, the release says. After finishing three books, readers return to the library to get their scorecards stamped and signed by a library staff member, entitling them to a free reserved grandstand ticket. All books must be read and scorecards stamped by Thursday, March 1, the release stresses.

Stamped scorecards may be redeemed for a grandstand ticket while tickets are available, the release adds. Adult companion tickets will be available at a reduced rate, the release notes. Seating is limited; stamped scorecards will be accepted at the box office until Wednesday, March 7, the release points out.

The Saturday, March 10, game will begin at1:05 p.m. at Ed Smith Stadium, which is located at 2700 12th St. in Sarasota. The Orioles will face the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“It’s a program that kids love,” said Sarabeth Kalajian, Sarasota County Libraries and Historical Resources director, in the release. “Most kids start out with the intention of earning a ticket to the game. But in the end, not only do they experience a great day at the ballpark, they learn that reading opens doors and leads to new adventures,” she added in the release. “We appreciate the Orioles for their generous support of this literacy partnership.”

“The Orioles are proud to team with Sarasota County’s libraries to encourage youngsters to read,” said David Rovine, vice president of Orioles-Sarasota, in the release. “Youth literacy is a key community initiative supported by the Orioles, and we are excited to reward Big League Readers with a day of fun at Ed Smith Stadium.”

For more information, call the county Contact Center at 861-5000 or visit