Guthrie spreads holiday cheer

CLARKSVILLE, Md. — A little bit of that Oregon environmentally-friendly spirit came to an elementary school here in Howard County about 25 miles south of Baltimore this week.

And the ambassador was Jeremy Guthrie, 32, the Ashland High School graduate and Roseburg native who made a pre-holiday visit to the third-grade class of Matt Noon.

Noon had invited Guthrie to his class after the right-handed pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles had sent out tweets asking some of his social media followers what they wanted for Christmas. Noon asked Guthrie if he would visit his class.

"I knew a lot about his background," said Noon, who grew up in nearby Columbia, Md., and played baseball at Boston College. "I knew how well-rounded he was. I never expected him to come."

But he did. The appearance came Tuesday morning, just prior to the annual Orioles' holiday party at another location.

"Mr. Noon said he would love for me to come to his third-grade class," Guthrie, who lives in Utah in the off-season, told a small group of reporters after the visit. "I was going to be in town for the Orioles' Christmas party so it worked out real well."

Guthrie also attended the Orioles' party, which honored about 70 elementary students from a school in Baltimore as its guests about 15 miles east of Clarksville in Hanover, Md.

A pitcher for the Orioles since 2007, Guthrie took questions from the students before Noon asked how the pitcher gets to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for games.

"I ride my bike to the stadium most of the time," Guthrie told the students here at Pointer's Run Elementary School.

"Why do you think he does that"? asked Noon, who was a roommate with former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck at Boston College.

"I grew up in Oregon," Guthrie told the students. "Do you know where that place is? We do a lot of things to save energy (in Oregon). I did not have a car until I was in college."

"If I had to go to a friend's house I rode my bike," Guthrie added. "That is always how I got around."

Sometimes those trips took 40 minutes, Guthrie noted. "It is good exercise. It is fun. It is better for the environment," he added.

Guthrie also told the students he once got a D in art in eighth grade. After that he made a promise to himself that he would never get a letter grade below a B again.

And Guthrie got all A's at Ashland High while playing three sports. Sometimes that meant doing homework during lunch and having to turn down invitations from friends to spend time with them, he noted.

Before he left Noon's class, Guthrie signed several baseball cards for the students and left replicas of his Orioles' jersey. He also signed autographs and posed for photos with staff members in the front office before heading to the Orioles' holiday party.

Guthrie has already had a busy off-season and he had the chance to meet with young students on two other continents. "I got to take my daughter to Spain and meet kids that don't get to play baseball very much," said Guthrie, who did a two-year mission tour with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Spain while in college.

The pitcher was also part of the contingent from Major League Baseball that took part in a tour of Taiwan after the 2011 season. The tour ended in early November but not before Guthrie had a chance to speak at an American high school. "It was easier for them to understand since it was an American school," Guthrie said. "I spoke at career day and they wanted something a little different. Baseball is a different career."

Guthrie was 9-17 with an ERA of 4.33 last season in 34 games, with 32 starts for Baltimore. After playing in college at BYU and Stanford, he broke into the Major Leagues with Cleveland in 2004. He is 47-65 with an ERA of 4.19 in his big league career, with 177 appearances and 154 starts.

He has been the subject of trade rumors the past few years. Guthrie told late this past season that his agent has not discussed a long-term deal with the Orioles.

"You never take anything for granted or assume you are entitled to anything," Guthrie told "So to think that a team should offer me any type of contract beyond one year, I don't assume that. I always thought I'll go out and play year-to-year."

David Driver is a free-lance writer in Maryland and can be reached at

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