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How Matt Wieters and the Baltimore Orioles made me a minor league baseball fan

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Chris Slade tells us how he became a fan of minor league baseball

Matt Wieters
Matt Wieters
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Editor's Note from John: As part of our efforts to keep you entertained while I am on the disabled list, I asked our contributors to tell the story of how they became interested in minor league baseball. Share your own stories here!

Christopher Slade: Minor league baseball was first introduced to me when my elementary school sponsored a field trip for myself and my fellow 4th grade classmates to go see a Frederick Keys game.

I was about 10 years old at the time and I'll never forget the excitement of chasing after foul balls with my friends as they landed in the grassy hillside that stretches alongside the left field fence. I didn't know much about the teams playing-otherwise I wouldn't have mistakenly gotten most of the Wilmington Blue Rocks autographs thinking they were the Keys - but I enjoyed my experience.

As my Oriole fandom grew in the following years, I began to take interest in what was happening in the minors. After all, I needed reason for hope with a major league team that offered little. Overall, I was 14 years old when my devotion to following the Orioles minor leagues became a serious hobby of mine.

Every single day of the 2008 Minor league season, I hopped on the Internet before school each morning to read the game recaps of the minor league games the night before. As you may recall, that was the "Matt Wieters" year as Wiet put together one of the all-time great minor league seasons which played a How big role in my devotion to tracking the Orioles minor leaguers. I couldn't wait to see what he and the other promising young Orioles did next.

As I developed a better understanding of statistical analysis and scouting reports, I even began to compile my own Orioles Top 20 prospect lists in a journal for fun. My new-found appreciation for Orioles minor league prospects also began to spread to following all top minor league prospects in other organizations too.

This interest in all things baseball prospects led me to discover Minor League Ball, a website I have been regular reader of for the last 5 years now and am proud to be a contributor to.