Current, former O's attend charitable holiday party

Showalter, Pearce and Bumbry among participants at 36th OriolesREACH event

Current, former O's attend charitable holiday party

HANOVER, Md. -- Even with the ever-changing complexion of his team, Orioles manager Buck Showalter can't find many reasons to complain. The past few days, in particular, have been exceptionally rewarding.

On Saturday, Showalter made the rounds at the Army-Navy Game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore with a college roommate.

"At the airport yesterday, he just said, 'Thanks. That was pretty cool,'" Showalter said.

Tuesday was another chance to temporarily get away from free agents and coaching searches as Showalter joined his team for the 36th annual OriolesREACH Holiday Party for Kids at the Dave & Buster's in Arundel Mills Mall. Current O's Steve Pearce and Brad Brach and former players Al Bumbry, Dave Johnson and Scott McGregor were also in attendance to host 80 students from Baltimore's Callaway Elementary School for the event.

The players joined the students out in the game room, where the children had a chance to play games without a limit. Pearce played a Mario Kart arcade game with one kid. Brach played Guitar Hero with another.

A year ago, neither Pearce nor Brach would have been on the radar for any Orioles fan. Now, with departures of key players including Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, they have become recognizable faces for the organization.

"I try not to get too comfortable anywhere, because I've [been] in this position before," Brach said. "In San Diego, I had a good year and then just didn't really pitch very well, so I want to make sure I come back next year the same as this year."

After they were done playing games, the students ate lunch -- served by Brach, Pearce, Bumbry, Johnson and McGregor.

As they passed through the line, they also crossed paths with Showalter, who joked with them and tried to steal some food.

At the end of the day, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network's Tom Davis came into the room disguised as Santa Claus, drawing cheers bigger than those even for the manager and his players. Led by Santa, the players gave each child an autograph, a baseball, a glove and a board game.

The only thing missing was Markakis. The longtime O's outfielder, who recently signed a four-year deal with the Braves, was typically a staple at the annual holiday party. He came to clean out his locker at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Monday.

"It can happen to everybody, but it's the next person in line," said Pearce. "That's how it goes. It's sad, it stinks, but that's the way baseball works. He's a guy that's been here for a long time, but for the team and the player, they've got to do what's best for their family and best for the team."

David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.