Some sad news yesterday in the Orioles universe. Former utility player Woodson George "Woodie" Held died in Dubois, WY after a bout with brain cancer. He was 77 years old. I didn't really know much about him, other than the vague sense that he looked like a "Woodie" and that he was a member of the 1966 World Championship team. So I guess it's time to flip over and read the back of the card.
The first thing that jumps out is that he slammed 100 home runs in parts of seven minor league seasons before getting a real shot in the majors. In 1956, he went deep 35 times and drove in 125 runs at Denver. The top-heavy Yankees finally dealt him to Kansas City, where he hit 20 home runs as a rookie. He soon moved on to Cleveland (in a trade that sent Roger Maris to the A's), and set a team record for home runs by a shortstop, hitting 85 of his 130 round-trippers with the Tribe while playing the position. After a pit stop in Washington, he came to Baltimore in 1966 and played sparingly for a season and a half as a reserve. He hit only two of his 179 career homers as an Oriole, but the second was a game-winning, pinch-hit three-run shot against the Indians on May 1, 1967. All told, he had a solid 14-year career as a versatile defensive player with a powerful bat.
Woodie was quoted as saying, "Swing hard, just in case you hit the ball." Hopefully, he went down swinging.