Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Lee May, 1978 Topps #640

Lee May brought a lot more to the Orioles than his on-field performance during his six years in Baltimore. Here's a quote from Eddie Murray, excerpted from John Eisenberg's oral history of the team, From 33rd Street to Camden Yards:

"Lee May had some good qualities, and he tried to show me the right way to do things-and not to do things. Some were off the field. Like, always listen. If someone tells you five things, you might use two-but that's two more than you had. And he said, 'If you sit down and break bread with someone, you should be able to pick up a check.' So not just baseball things, but being a major leaguer. It was a learning thing. And then the way when Earl would scream at someone, and Lee would come along behind and pat the guy and say, 'Way to go.' Keeping his head up. They were almost a team that way. Earl was making his point, and Lee was, too."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mark Hendrickson, 2009 Upper Deck O-Pee-Chee #82

I kind of love the bizarre symbiotic relationship the Orioles have had with journeyman Mark Hendrickson since 2009. They signed the 6'9" ex-Blue Jay/Devil Ray/Dodger/Marlin (and 76er/King/Net/Cavalier...he's a two-sport journeyman!) when Andy MacPhail was still bridging the gap to the future with baling wire and Silly Putty. He spent two seasons and change in Baltimore, largely as a reliever, with middling results: 8-11, 4.80 ERA, 92 ERA+, 1.5 WHIP in 191.1 innings. The O's released him in September 2011, and he wound up sitting out the following season.

But he had a good rapport with manager Buck Showalter, and the Birds were close to his home in York, PA, so he found his way back into the organization in 2013 following a tryout. Mark had developed a new sidearm delivery at Showalter's urging, and it was good enough to earn him a minor-league deal. Though he pitched well at AAA Norfolk (3.06 ERA, 1.06 WHIP in 40 relief appearances), the Orioles did not call him up during the season. They expressed interest in retaining him as a coach, but not as a pitcher, so he went back to York, suiting up in 2014 for the Atlantic League's Revolution club. He further honed his sidearm style and was even better, putting up a 1.54 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and nine saves for the Revs.

That brings us to the present, as the now-40-year-old Hendrickson is throwing submarine-style and has once again tried out for Buck and the Birds. According to Roch Kubatko, the team is "leaning toward" inviting him to spring training. They're still interested in acquiring his services as a pitching coach, when (or maybe if) he does decide to retire. I'll always root for an underdog, and there are few players with stories as unusual as Mark Hendrickson's. But I've almost overlooked the newest twist: Mark's also a new grandfather. Viva Mark Hendrickson.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Leo Gomez, 1990 CMC Minors #311

Snazzy glasses there, Leo Gomez. I'm pretty sure that my dad had a pair just like them. In my hazy memories, there were maybe three or four sets of frames for glasses in the 1980s. You didn't have much of a choice, so you usually got stuck with a pair that swallowed up half of your face. It was not a good time to have vision problems. I'm just grateful that my eyes tolerate contact lenses, so I don't have to worry about these fashion faux pas...any more. There are pictures from my childhood and adolescence that I need to go bury in the bottom of a deep, dark hole.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Gregg Olson, 1991 Donruss #393

Valued reader Zach left a comment on yesterday's blog entry requesting the zesty green border of 1991 Donruss Series 2, which solved my daily dilemma of which card to post. The base cards in this set are enough of an eyesore, with their neon Trapper Keeper stripes and splotches in the margins, but the MVP subset cranks it to 11. The goofy clip art baseballs in the background of the photo are reminiscent of Donruss' 1987 set, and the bold yellow "MVP" wordmark on top, complete with rainbow gradient drop shadow, complete the sensory overload.

As for Gregg Olson: with all due respect to the Otter, the fact that Donruss tabbed him as the most valuable player for the Orioles in the just-concluded 1990 season is emblematic of the team's tumble to fifth place in the East. The Birds' sophomore closer was very good, with a 2.42 ERA, 37 saves, and 74 strikeouts in 74.1 innings. But if the standout player on your club is only on the field for the equivalent of eight-plus games, there are probably some everyday players who didn't meet expectations.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Eddie Murray, 1997 Pinnacle #65

It's rare that I go a full weekend without posting unless I'm out of town, but for the past two days I was busier than Eddie Murray at an ass-kicking contest. On Saturday I put my new home brewing kit to the test and started making my first homemade beer, an IPA. I did not expect it to take six hours. All that, and it still won't be ready to drink for another four weeks. The next time I buy a six-pack from the store, I'll be a little more appreciative of the convenience for the price. We spent all afternoon on Sunday doing some much-overdue cleaning around the house. I can neither confirm nor deny that we left our Christmas decorations up for a full month after Christmas. Then last night, I made the 90-minute drive up to Philadelphia with a couple of friends to view WWE's Royal Rumble live from the Wells Fargo Center. So that's why I was missing in action...not that you asked.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Don Buford, 1970 Topps #305

There you have it: photographic proof that the Orioles briefly led the 1969 World Series, coming out on top in the opener in Baltimore. Don Buford homered off of Tom Seaver in his first ever Fall Classic at-bat, and Mike Cuellar went the distance in a 4-1 victory over the Mets. This picture is of course the aftermath of Buford's trip around the bases, as the left fielder is greeted by a grinning bat boy and a dugout full of jubilant teammates and coaches. Brooks Robinson stands to the left, shouting for joy and holding his arms open to receive the hero of the moment.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chris Richard, 2001 Upper Deck MVP #68

Here we see Chris Richard employing the rarely-used and since-discredited "Itsy Bitsy Spider Technique" for fielding ground balls. The Orioles fired their infield coach later that night.