Brittany McGuire never knows exactly how her brother, Ryan, might react to exciting news. Sometimes she builds it up, hoping to portray the excitement of a situation. But there’s no guarantee Ryan, who has autism, might replicate those emotions.
So when Brittany deliberated how to tell Ryan he would have the chance to throw out the first pitch Thursday night at Camden Yards ahead of the Orioles’ game against the Los Angeles Angels, she opted for a casual approach. The news, she felt — a chance for Ryan to see his favorite team up close — would speak for itself without any added passion.
“His reaction was more than I could ever ask for,” said Brittany, who captured it for the 3.5 million followers on her viral TikTok account Tacobellqween. “It was perfect.”
Laying on his back on a couch, Ryan first expressed disbelief at what his sister told him. Then he sat up, digging for more details. The idea he could meet catcher Adley Rutschman and manager Brandon Hyde began to sink in, and then he learned he’d do it a day before his sister’s 26th birthday — “That’s perfect!” he exclaimed.
By the end of the video, which has 1.2 million views as of Wednesday afternoon, Ryan had laid back down. But his legs were wiggling in excitement at the prospect of seeing his favorite players, Cedric “The Entertainer” Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle.
“First of all, I was in shock, because I never knew I’d be throwing out the first pitch at Camden Yards,” said Ryan, 28. “And I was super excited, too.”
A little over two years ago, Brittany downloaded the social media platform TikTok on her phone. It was a chance to keep up with the latest trends, and at the time, she didn’t anticipate posting any of her own videos.
That changed when she recorded a video of Ryan’s reaction to her pink face mask. Overnight, the clip went viral, and Brittany realized there was an opportunity to use the social media platform as a way to educate others about autism.
“After that, I just started posting more and more with him,” said Brittany, a Richmond, Virginia, native. “It just kind of morphed into this beautiful platform that he and I are blessed to have. It’s been an incredibly fun experience.”
Ryan added: “It’s also made us so much closer in our sibling relationship now.”
Growing up, Brittany knew life with Ryan was normal to her, even if unfamiliar to others. Few others could relate to her experience, and her TikTok has developed into a method to grow understanding about autism.
Brittany said she often receives messages from followers who share experiences with relatives or friends who also have a disability.
“The fact we can be that person for other people who are going through the same thing is so amazing,” Brittany said. “And it’s incredibly rewarding, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
As the TikTok account grew, Ryan could often be seen wearing sports team apparel, with the Washington Wizards, Oakland Athletics and Angels in frequent rotation. He has an ample supply of Orioles gear, too, and the latest video from Brittany and Ryan — performing a dance trend — is shot while Ryan rocks orange.
He became an Orioles fan in high school because it was one of his teacher’s favorite teams. His teacher’s favorite player was outfielder Nolan Reimold, who played with the club between 2009 and 2013 and again from 2015 to 2016. Ryan chose outfielder Adam Jones as his favorite player, but after he departed, his allegiance has shifted to the new crop of stars, including Mullins, Mountcastle and Rutschman.
“I’ve always wanted to meet him,” Ryan said of Rutschman, baseball’s top prospect and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
When the Orioles reached out to Brittany to see if Ryan would be interested in throwing out the first pitch at a game, Brittany had no doubt.
“Are you kidding me?” Brittany said. “Of course he would be.”
It won’t be Ryan’s first time. He threw out the first pitch at a Richmond Flying Squirrels game earlier this year, and he spent time Tuesday practicing throwing in the backyard with his dad. Ryan knows throwing the first pitch at Camden Yards will be a different experience than doing so at The Diamond in Richmond. “It’s huge,” Ryan said. “There’s gonna be a lot more fans in the stands watching me.”
But Ryan isn’t worried about a bigger crowd watching him. After all, millions of people see him on TikTok as it is.
“They’re already gonna know me,” Ryan said. “It’s very exciting, cause they already know me, they already recognize me, cause they watch my TikToks constantly. And they all love the Orioles like me.”