More than 4,000 UK Scouts watched the Orioles’ 6-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday from the left field stands at Camden Yards, and as the game wore on, they became more and more enamored with Santander, the 24-year-old Venezuelan patrolling the outfield grass in front of them. Santander — hitting .296 with eight home runs in 50 games this season — is a virtual unknown to the average baseball fan, but he’s now officially big in Britain.
The UK Scouts, who sported red, white and blue scarves, attended the 24th World Scout Jamboree in West Virginia last week and accounted for more than one-fifth of the announced crowd at Sunday’s game. They stood and cheered wildly when Santander made routine catches, causing the outfielder to shake his head and smile, and they roared in approval when he tossed the ball into the stands as a souvenir after making one such play to end the top of the fifth inning.
The 38-73 Orioles haven’t given fans much reason to cheer this season, but for the Scouts, Santander was reason enough. They cheered every time he strode to the plate and booed Blue Jays center fielder Teoscar Hernández for catching their unlikely hero’s lazy flyball in the bottom of the fifth.
When Orioles public address announcer Ryan Wagner welcomed the Scouts on the scoreboard later in the game, he introduced them as the “Official Anthony Santander International Fan Club,” something that didn’t exist a few hours earlier. One of the Scouts — Sarah from West Sussex — even purchased Santander’s No. 25 jersey from the Orioles team store during the game and declared herself the No. 1 member of his fan club.
“Very happy, thanks to them for coming in here, thanks to them for their support,” Santander, who went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run, said of his personal cheering section through a Spanish interpreter. “We won, and we won because of their cheers.”