Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Vintage Fridays: Pat Dobson, 1973 Topps #34

Poor Pat Dobson. He pitched for the Orioles for two seasons, and had three Topps cards as an Oriole...and they were all highly unflattering. Since the O's traded for Dobson in December of 1970, he had a hastily airbrushed cap in his 1971 card. They also chose a portrait photo of Pat caught in mid-blink, for some unfathomable reason. In 1972, Topps rewarded Dobson for his 20-win season with a card featuring him in his actual orange, black, and gray Orioles uniform...as well as a dopey, open-mouthed gape. The Birds swapped the veteran pitcher to the Braves in the Earl Williams deal in November of 1972, which was too late for Topps to work their photo-doctoring magic on his first series card for the following year. This is the most appealing of Dobson's three cards from his tenure in Charm City, which is damning it with faint praise. He's not making an odd face, but he still looks disgruntled and rumpled. I'm also like 99% sure that this photo is not airbrushed, but the "Baltimore" script on his road jersey still looks off somehow, like it was hand-drawn. It's probably just some wrinkles and folds in the fabric that are making it sit in a certain way. Nonetheless, I'm left wondering who it was at Topps that had it in for ol' Pat Dobson.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Rene Gonzales, 1988 Donruss #582

September 25, 1987 was not a great day for the Orioles. Playing out the string on their worst season since 1955 (at least until the following year!), they were pummeled at home by the Yankees, 8-4. It was the 90th loss of the year for the O's, with a young Jose Mesa getting throttled for six runs on three hits and five walks in less than two innings. Don Mattingly's grand slam was the catalyst, and rookie lefty Al Leiter earned the win with ten strikeouts in six and two-thirds innings (along with four runs on eight hits and five walks of his own). One of the few bright spots for Baltimore was the performance of Rene Gonzales, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI triple and a pair of runs scored.

And yet, that day wasn't all that bad in the big picture. Rob Reiner's film The Princess Bride was released in theaters, and although it wasn't a box office success, it's become a beloved classic in subsequent years. It happens to be my wife Janet's favorite movie, and it's near the top of my list as well. In that spirit, five years ago today I bought an ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins and had the phrase "As You Wish" written on top in icing. I brought it home and put it on ice in a cooler in the tiny back yard of my rowhouse, along with a 750 mL bottle of Dogfish Head's Positive Contact beer. That evening, I set up a couple of camp chairs and our fire pit, and surprised Janet with a cozy bonfire when she came back from babysitting a friend's daughter (a diversion that I had conveniently helped arrange). She was thrilled enough with the fire, but the emerald claddagh engagement ring that I pulled from my pocket seemed to go over pretty well, too.

I'm still pretty pleased that everything went according to plan that night. (In hindsight, my proposal has also given us an excellent excuse to indulge in ice cream cake and craft beer every year at this time.) Even though the ensuing years have brought their share of stresses, fears, and chaos, the scales are still tipped significantly by loads of laughter, joy, and adventure. Happy May Day, everyone.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Ken Singleton, 1981 Fleer Star Stickers #103

To close out a mostly forgettable April in Birdland, here's a belated mail day! Late last week, I got an envelope from Max, who'd found a few more cards that he'd meant to include in the larger stack he sent earlier this month. It included several 2018 Topps Opening Day O's (one of them being my first Chance Sisco card), four 1981 Fleer Star Stickers, and an all-gold Brooks Robinson card that some cursory searching tells me is probably from a 1996-2003 Danbury Mint set. Now that's an impressive oddball!

Ken Singleton, by the by, has announced that he will be retiring from broadcasting after the 2018 season. Singy has been calling Yankees games on the YES Network for 22 years now, to the chagrin of Orioles fans. However, in my limited experience with YES telecasts, Ken at least brings a bit of class and sanity to the proceedings. In that sense, the 70-year-old former All-Star will be missed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Kevin Gausman, 2014 Topps Heritage #377

My nascent Camden Yards win streak may have been cut short at three with last night's 2-1 heartbreaker, but that doesn't mean that there weren't any memorable moments. On a personal level, my sister and I won the team's seat upgrade promotion. Since the paid attendance was a cozy 10,614, and the actual number of butts in seats was significantly less for a Monday evening game in April, I encouraged Liz to text our seat location to the promotional number. I figured the odds were in our favor, at least moreso than they've ever been before. So wouldn't you know that when I returned from a third-inning beer run, she was in possession of two tickets for Section 37? I'm quite fond of our usual vantage point in Section 340, but it was nice to be a bit closer to the action. Plus, it's always a cheap thrill to see yourself on the scoreboard. Here's a crummy picture of our upgraded view, courtesy of my iPhone.
As you can see, we were right below the press box, in the last row before you reach the box seats. That meant that we had an excellent view of Kevin Gausman's historical seventh inning. Gausman was a hard-luck loser last night, allowing two runs on four hits in eight innings, with seven strikeouts against just one walk. Yonder Alonso's second-inning homer held up for the Indians, since the O's flaccid bats couldn't produce anything beyond Chance Sisco's second-inning RBI single.

Anyhow, I was pleased to see Gausman mow down Alonso, Yan Gomes, and Bradley Zimmer in order in the top of the seventh. It was all the more impressive because he struck out the side. But I didn't realize until I read the recap this morning that he disposed of all three Cleveland batters on three pitches apiece. It's come to be known as an "immaculate inning", and despite the increasing frequency of strikeouts in today's MLB, it's still pretty rare. There have been 90 such innings on record, making it a less common occurrence than a cycle or a no-hitter. 85 different pitchers have had a three-K, nine-pitch inning, including a record high of eight last season. (Sandy Koufax had three of them.) Kevin is the first pitcher to throw an immaculate inning in 2018, and the first Oriole to do so since B. J. Ryan blew away Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Richie Sexson on September 5, 1999. I guess there's just something about the Indians.

I'm glad to know that I witnessed a little bit of history...even if the significance escaped me at the time.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Buddy Peterson, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #359

There are 501 cards in the promotional "All-Time Orioles" set, which of course gave enterprising collectors a card of each and every player who donned orange and black from the team's arrival in 1954 through the beginning of the 1991 season. With this post, I've featured 83 of those cards on my blog. Maybe I'll hang it up for good if I ever get around to all of them.

Anyhow, I plucked this card out of obscurity today because Carl Francis "Buddy" Peterson was born on this date 93 years ago. I figured that I might as well try to fill in one of the gaps in my knowledge of the team's early history. A native of Portland, OR, Peterson was in his ninth professional season when the White Sox purchased his contract from the Pacific Coast League's San Diego Padres club in the summer of 1955. The 30-year-old batted .306 with a .374 on-base percentage in 154 games that year with the Friars, and got a taste of the big leagues with Chicago in September. He actually debuted against the Orioles, hitting a single off of Jim Wilson while batting for pitcher Sandy Consuegra in the eighth inning of an 8-2 O's win on September 14. That was the first half of a doubleheader at Memorial Stadium; he started the nightcap at shortstop and went 2-for-5 with a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored from the leadoff position to help the ChiSox earn a split. In all, Peterson appeared in six games with the Pale Hose, batting .286/.400/.333 with seven runs scored.

Despite this favorable introduction to the majors, Buddy spent all of 1956 with Chicago's AA affiliate in Memphis, hitting .279 with a slugging percentage of .393. The Orioles acquired him that offseason, and sent him back to his old stomping grounds in the PCL, where he batted .298/.368/.420 with a career-best 38 doubles for the Vancouver Mounties. Again, he got a late-season cameo in the bigs, but hit safely just three times and walked twice in 19 tries for a .176 average. He kicked around in the PCL for three more seasons afterward without making it back to MLB, and capped his playing career with three years in Japan, batting .272/.340/.462 with 58 homers and 186 RBI for the Nankai Hawks. So in summary, Buddy Peterson played pro baseball for 17 seasons and some 2,375 games, including 13 games at the sport's highest level.

Post-playing career, Buddy managed in the minors for the Mets, Royals, and Athletics, posting an overall record of 295-285 in six seasons. He also worked briefly as a scout for Kansas City and Oakland. Peterson died at age 81 in 2006 due to complications from a stroke.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Eddie Murray, 2002 Fleer Fall Classic #33

As you may remember, when the Orioles are playing especially poorly, I throw up the Eddie Signal. It's like the Bat Signal, but with sideburns and mustache in place of cape and cowl. Rarely in recent years have things looked so dire. 19 games into the season, the O's are 5-14, scraping the bottom of the barrel. They've been swept thrice in six series this year, and are staggering back to Baltimore tomorrow night on the heels of an 0-6 road trip to Boston (understandable) and Detroit (inexcusable). Chris Tillman is looking just as cooked as he was last year, Alex Cobb is not exactly in midseason form, and Mike Wright Jr. is exactly who we thought he was. Zach Britton, Mark Trumbo, Colby Rasmus, and Jonathan Schoop are hurt. Trey Mancini, Manny Machado, and Pedro Alvarez are the only guys who are hitting at all. The defense is uncharacteristically sloppy. To sum it up in one word, yuck.

The good news? Dylan Bundy pitches tomorrow, and he's been as good as the Birds could've hoped. After a road-heavy early slate, the Orioles will actually get to settle in for a ten-game homestand, which can't hurt. I have tickets to tomorrow night's game, and so far I've witnessed the team's only two home wins in 2018. Also, Fleer gave Eddie Murray card number 33 in this set, and I can't tell you how much that pleases me.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Pedro Alvarez, 2016 Topps #367

(Cheesy Photoshop alert!)

I hope you could forgive my pessimism as the Orioles staggered into Yankee Stadium last Thursday in the midst of a five-game losing streak. A four-game weekend series against the powerful New York lineup did not seem like the prescription for what ailed the Birds. So naturally, the O's took three of four from the pinstripers, including a pair of bizarre extra-inning contests:

-Thursday brought Andrew Cashner (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) his first win as an Oriole, and the O's rallied for five seventh-inning runs. Adam Jones' two-run homer off of Masahiro Tanaka gave Baltimore a lead they wouldn't relinquish en route to a 5-2 final score.

-Friday's game stretched into the wee hours of Saturday morning, as it took 14 innings and nearly five and a half hours for the Birds to escape with a 7-3 victory. It looked like a Mychal Givens wild pitch would end it in the bottom of the eleventh, but Caleb Joseph chased down the ball and tossed it to former shortstop Givens, who slid into home plate just ahead of baserunner Didi Gregorius and tagged him out. After an umpire review, it was determined that Givens had not obstructed Didi's path to the dish. That set the stage (eventually) for Pedro Alvarez's grand slam to provide the winning margin.

-After dropping Saturday afternoon's game, the Orioles sealed the series win with a rousing comeback on Sunday. Mike Wright put the O's in a five-run hole in the first inning, but a pair of two-run homers by Anthony Santander (his first as a big leaguer) and Danny Valencia helped Baltimore briefly take the lead in the top of the seventh inning. The Yankees tied it up in the home half of that inning, and it remained a stalemate until the top of the twelfth. That's when Craig Gentry's two-out single through the left side of the infield plated Pedro Alvarez. 8-7, Orioles. The drama persisted in the Yankees' final ups, with Brad Brach walking two batters and mishandling a Brett Gardner bunt to create a bases-loaded, no-outs jam with sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton due to hit. Judge tapped a grounder back to the mound, with Brach, Caleb Joseph, and Tim Beckham collaborating on a deft 1-2-5 double play to wipe out the two lead runners. Then Brach earned the save by striking out Stanton swinging, the fifth K of the day for the 2017 MLB home run leader.

In recent years, the Orioles have made a habit out of proving their detractors wrong. If they want to keep it up in 2018, it is absolutely alright with me.