Vienna town manager throws out first pitch for Baltimore Orioles

Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton with the Baltimore Orioles mascot before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on April 1, 2024 (courtesy Mercury Payton)

When Vienna Town Manager Mercury Payton stepped on the infield grass at Camden Yards earlier this week to throw a ceremonial first pitch, he thought about his family.

He thought about his wife and 17-year-old daughter, who had accompanied him to the Baltimore Orioles’ game on Monday (April 1) against the Kansas City Royals. He also imagined the reactions of his late father and grandfather, who took him to games as a kid and helped turn him into a lifelong O’s fan.

“If they were here, they would have been excited to see me throw out the first pitch because they both loved the Orioles and our family loved the Orioles, so that would have been fun for them to see that experience,” Payton told FFXnow.

Payton didn’t expect to be called upon to throw out the first pitch of the game.

A season ticket holder, a status whose perks include access to a members-only clubhouse, he and his family were taking advantage of the complimentary drinks and snacks when two Orioles employees approached them and made the offer — apparently without awareness of his position as a government official.

So, instead of heading to their seats, Payton and his wife found themselves waiting behind home plate to get the credentials that would allow them to go onto the baseball field. Around that time, Payton’s wife questioned if they were being subjected to an April Fool’s Day joke.

“I didn’t think about that until she mentioned that,” he admitted. “I’m like, ‘Oh, this is April 1st’ …But no, they were not joking, and it was a fun experience.”

As for the pitch itself, the ball was caught by the Oriole Bird mascot set up behind home plate, instead of bouncing on the way, according to Payton, who considers that a success.

Though the experience went by “pretty quick,” it marked a new highlight in Payton’s long-standing relationship with the Orioles.

Growing up as a baseball fan in Prince William County, they were the closest thing he had to a hometown MLB team. At 10, he watched as the Orioles won the 1983 World Series, and his loyalties were cemented, unchallenged by the arrival of the Washington Nationals to D.C. in 2005.

The reigning American League East champions rewarded Payton for that unwavering support on Monday night with not only the chance to throw out the first pitch, but also a win on a walk-off home run by shortstop Jordan Westburg.

Still, Payton says what really made the night special was sharing it with his family.

“It’s just one of those things where you have memories with your family,” he said. “I know that my 17-year-old daughter, who was there, and my wife will probably remember that for a long time, and it’s just things that you do with your family are most important…It was good that they were there, that we could experience that together.”