Orioles make young fan's dream come true

Make-A-Wish recipient joins club for special day

Orioles make young fan's dream come true

BALTIMORE -- The fresh-faced 17-year-old put pen to paper on his Major League contract, before passing it off to Orioles vice president Dan Duquette. Then came the round of applause, the handshake from the Oriole Bird and the rest of a day that James Martino won't soon forget.

Martino, a Fallston native, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January. He visited the Orioles on Friday night on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"Playing for the Orioles," Duquette said, placing an arm around Martino and fighting back tears, "is Jimmy's dream."

"Thank you so much," said Martino, who was clad in a personalized black Orioles jersey and cap.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Major League Baseball and the Orioles dedicated Friday to pediatric cancer awareness.

"Ever since I was little, and even now, I still dream of playing for the Orioles," Martino said. "Always wanted to be wearing a No. 15 jersey, playing first base at Camden Yards."

Martino's day continued on the field. He posed for a photo with manager Buck Showalter before chatting up center fielder Adam Jones behind home plate during batting practice. Martino had been to Abbey Burger earlier in the day, he said, and had ordered the burger named after Jones: Simply AJ10.

"You get the jalapenos on it, too?" Jones asked.

Before the game began, Martino walked out to the mound, waved to the crowd and prepared to deliver the ceremonial first pitch to Joey Rickard. Martino palmed the ball, and reared back and fired.

Strike.

"It's hard to explain how happy I am right now," Martino said.

Joshua Needelman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.