Barlow close to O's hearts on celebratory night

BALTIMORE -- The daily reminders are everywhere, the picture outside of manager Buck Showalter's office, the celebration of life taped to Chris Davis' locker, the plaque in the press box and "K Cancer" shirts that have become the most popular pregame garb in the Orioles' clubhouse.

But never was Monica Barlow's memory on better display than after the Orioles' 8-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night, as the O's clinched the American League East with hands full of champagne and their hearts with the longtime public-relations director.

"She's finally smiling," reliever Tommy Hunter said of Barlow, who passed away this spring at 36 years old after fighting Stage IV lung cancer for more than four years. "The LUNGevity thing's next week and we were just talking about it last week in the clubhouse. She's a special person, man.

"It's not awesome, but it's awesome. I don't know how to explain it. It brings a tear to your eye. You wish she was here. I do, everyone does. And to see her husband in here and being able to throw a beer on his head and give him a big hug right afterward, it meant a lot."

Ben Barlow was a popular fixture on Tuesday night, taking in the clubhouse celebration and becoming a large part of it as several Orioles reminisced about Monica amongst the chaos, toasting to her honor with the overload of champagne.

Baltimore will host the LUNGevity 5K walk at Camden Yards this Saturday in Barlow's honor. A College of William & Mary graduate, Barlow served as an Orioles intern in 1999. She spent the next year as a PR assistant for the Richmond Braves (formerly Atlanta's Triple-A affiliate) before rejoining the Baltimore organization in January 2001. An advocate for lung cancer research, the non-smoker was diagnosed in 2009 while training for a half-marathon.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.