Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen came up to Towson on Friday to feel a little more at home.
The Taiwanese left-hander, fresh off a victory against Texas on Thursday, spoke to a group of about 80 Towson High School and Towson University students in Towson High's auditorium on Friday afternoon.
The audience included Towson High honors Chinese language students, its baseball team, and members of Towson University's Chinese Culture Appreciation Club.
"Chen gave us a lot of great insight about baseball and about his life. It was a great opportunity to meet a major league ballplayer," said Yuri Chia, a Ruxton resident and Towson High sophomore. Chia, 16, helped organize the visit as co-president of Towson High's chapter of the National Chinese Honor Society.
Chen is 3-0 over six starts in his first season in the majors.
Chia's mother, Towson University professor Ingrid Wu, also had a hand in pulling it together. Wu, who is of Taiwanese descent, is the advisor to the Chinese culture group and said her husband hails from Kaoshiung, Chen's hometown.
"We thought this would be a nice welcome for [Chen] because a lot of our members do speak Mandarin," Wu said.
The event was closed to the media and the public. Wu and Chia said Chen talked about the experience of playing in Japan for eight years and moving to another foreign country this season.
He fielded questions from students, some of which were in his native Mandarin, and signed autographs for students. Chen was also presented with a gift bag from Towson High and a Towson Tigers T-shirt.
Towson High principal Jane Barranger couldn't have been happier, Wu said.
"We all gathered around and had a group picture and Dr. Barranger actually got ice cream for everybody too," she said. "I know she had her secretary calling all over the place trying to get some Chinese popsicles."
Chia walked away with an autographed baseball.
"It's a once in a lifetime experience and I'm very grateful that myself and my classmates were able to meet him and able to have dialogue with him," he said.