O, what an unbelievable ride

As the Oriole Bird, this Loyola grad has a top-of-the-dugout view of the playoffs

By Rita Buettner  |  Photo by Peter Howard

He may be Loyola’s most photographed graduate.

But if you saw his face, you wouldn’t recognize him. And chances are you don’t even know his name.

He’s Steve Butz, Psy.D. ’05, and he’s the Oriole Bird.

Actually, he’s one of four people who put on the Bird costume on game days.

Loyola magazine interviewed Butz back in 2009, but as the Baltimore Orioles moved into the American League Championship Series, we thought we’d check in with our Bird again, this time during his 13th season.

How does it feel?

“It’s an unbelievable ride. Back in 2012, when they made it, it was like, ‘Let’s see how far we can get.’ Now, no one’s saying it, but it’s this feeling that we’re just going to go all the way.”

One highlight:

“When they scored in game two (of the ALDS), when they took the lead and that stadium erupted, I’ve never heard a stadium that loud. The stadium was vibrating, and I could feel the floor shaking beneath me.”

How do your son (3) and daughter (6) feel about the fact that their dad is the Bird?

My daughter didn’t know until this past Fourth of July, and then we told her. She thinks it’s pretty cool.”

Does the Bird ever have fun with the pies?

“The Bird got pied last year. Adam Jones pied the Bird. It wasn’t me. It was pretty funny because it was banana cream pie, and it got everywhere. We had to take the head into the shower to get it clean.”

Do you still use your Loyola degree?

“Oh, yeah, absolutely. The non-verbal cues of everything, and feeding off of that.”

How is the team doing?

“They’re just riding it. When they won the division, I was at that game, but I was rotating with one of the other guys, so I was not in costume. So I got to go out on the field and celebrate with the team as myself. Players are spraying beer with anyone who’s out there. You’re high fiving them and saying congrats, and they’re just very appreciative of everything. It was just a big party. The next day one of my co-workers said, ‘Were you at the game? There was a guy on the field that looked like you.’”

So what do you do when you’re not the Bird?

“I work for the VA Maryland Health Care System. I’m a psychologist at one of their nursing home rehab and hospice units. Only a couple of my co-workers even know that I do this. And it’s kind of leaked out a little bit, but I’ve been able to keep it under wraps, which has been kind of fun. People are like, ‘Hey, you got to the game. How do you get to the game?’ and I say, ‘Oh, I know people.’”

Everyone must be thinking of Monica Pence Barlow this season.

“Very much so. Her husband’s been there. You’ll be celebrating and then there will be this moment of reflection. She is very much on everyone’s mind.”

Which ALCS game are you the Bird for?

“I’m working game six, if they need a game six. If they make it to the World Series, I would be working game one. This stadium has been as loud as I’ve ever heard it, so I can’t even imagine what it would be like for the World Series. I kind of had my choice. They said I could work game two (of the ALCS), but I just have a feeling they’re going to the World Series.”

What a season.

“It’s just been so much fun, getting up there and leading the cheers. You want them to go all the way, and then at the same time, you just don’t want it to end.”

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