Orioles honor Barlow with “MB” wristbands (updated)

Numerous prominent Orioles and coaches had a new addition to their uniforms for Saturday’s home opener: gray wristbands with the initials “MB” scrawled in black marker, a touching tribute in honor of the passing of public relation director Monica Barlow.

“I put it on my hat, it’s more visual that way,” said center fielder Adam Jones of the tribute, which the club originally tried to do something with their ball caps until they hit a snag from the League. “I think no matter what we did, she’s in everybody’s hearts right now, everybody’s minds. We lost a good member of our family and it’s not easy just to cope with it and let it go. We are going to remember her in great fashion.”

Barlow, 36, passed away Friday morning and the news rocked the organization as the longtime Oriole employee had a courageous four-year fight against Stage IV lung cancer. A non-smoker, Barlow was an advocate for lung cancer research but shied away from the spotlight, never letting her diagnosis prevent her from working long hours at Camden Yards.

“She probably would have thought it was a terrible idea, but that’s what I love about her,” first baseman Chris Davis said of the public display. “She made our jobs easier and you just can’t say enough good things about her.”

“She would have been so [angry],” manager Buck Showalter added. “We were talking about it in the dugout. You could feel it in the dugout, everybody was thinking about her today. During the first few innings, always but…I said many times I’m proud of how Chris handled all the things that came his way last year. But he’s just grounded. Very grounded.”

In addition to Davis and Jones, Nick Markakis, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters, Ryan Flaherty, Manny Machado, Showalter, hitting coach Jim Presley, first base coach Wayne Kirby and bench coach John Russell all sported the wrist bands for the televised game.

There is also talk of the team trying to put something permanent on their uniforms during the season.

“That’s up to Mr. Angelos and than you have to get it through Major League Baseball,” Jones said. “But she was such an instrumental part of our family here in the Orioles. I wouldn’t be opposed with it, to be honest with you, for everything —not just she’s done with the team— but for the individuals. She’s helped out a lot of individuals with their personal life also. So to pay tribute, to pay homage any way we do it would be awesome.”

Added Davis: “I would like to. I think it’s a good idea to honor her. A lot of people don’t understand what goes on behind the clubhouse doors, but those are the people who are really important to us. Anything we can do to honor her, whether it’s wearing her initials on a wristband or putting them on our hat, whatever we could do, we’d sure like to do that.”

Barlow had been with the Orioles since serving as an intern in 1999, leaving for a year to work with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate before coming back to Baltimore and working her way up the ranks.

“What she’s done for us is help us just worry about the on-field stuff. … PR and community relations, they get tons of requests for players and coaches to do certain things and certain activities and Monica has learned each player’s personality and what they were willing to do and not willing to do,” Jones said. “She always told me, ‘Let me be the bad guy. I don’t want you to be the bad guy. Let me be the bad guy.’ She just helped me a lot with making the right decisions and doing things that not just helped me, but helped the team instead of just doing things just for the sake of doing them. There’s always a purpose behind things and she helped me out a lot with that.”

The Orioles intend to honor her beyond the 2014 season and are working to go through the proper channels.

“There’s about four or five things that [VP of communications and marketing] Greg [Bader] and the organization are looking into right now you will see in some form or fashion for sure,” Showalter said. ‘And quite frankly not just this year. There’s some thought about honoring her in some places that Monica was at a lot.”

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