Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Eddie Murray, 1997 Fleer Ultra #6

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eddie Murray, 1981 Kellogg's #18

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Boog Powell, 2005 Topps Rookie Cup #4

As usual, I'm burning the midnight oil here because there was much to do today (and honestly, much still left to do). Tomorrow morning I will be on my way to Ocean City, MD for a week of sun, sand, saltwater, and most importantly, rest and relaxation! Oh, and of course there will be Boog's Barbecue from the pit beef stand that he wisely installed along the inlet near the end of the Boardwalk. I have been counting the days for about a month now, and it's finally here. Believe me, I will enjoy it.

But I'm not leaving you in the lurch! I've got a week of posts scheduled to publish while I'm away. I'm a bit bored with the "This Day in Orioles History" theme that I've used for previous vacations, so I'm declaring this Eddie Murray week. I've got tons of kick-ass cards of #33 (let's face it, there's no such thing as a lame Eddie Murray card), and I picked out seven of my favorites to share with you. Feel free to leave comments, and I'll respond when I get back...unless I can pry my sister's laptop away from here for a few moments here and there at the beach apartment. Be good this week, and I'll see you in July!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Vintage Fridays: Robin Roberts, 1964 Topps #285

I've talked about some of my quirks as a collector. I take special notice of "cameo players" who appear on another player's card, I don't mind (and often enjoy) vintage cards that are in poor shape, and every couple of years I get bored and reorganize my cards: by team, by year and brand, or even alphabetically by player. But one of my biggest interests in the hobby is accruing cards of each player in all of the different uniforms he's worn (or as many as possible). It's an entertaining way to visually catalogue a player's career. In the case of Robin Roberts, so far I only have him with the Orioles and the Phillies but not the Astros. Still, I can say that I've got multiple cards of a Hall of Fame pitcher, and that's pretty good.

When I open a pack of cards, the major thing that holds my attention (besides scanning for Orioles or especially unique photos) is whether I've gotten any players on a new team. I finally picked up a few jumbo packs of 2009 Topps Series 2 last Sunday, and they were pretty productive on that front: Edgar Renteria in Giants colors, Trevor Hoffman as a Brewer, John Smoltz with the Red Sox. I have to do some significant compilation of want lists; non-Topps Orioles are a priority. But it might be a good side project to check my card inventory (I put together an Excel database with all 26,000 or so cards in my collection) and figure out which player-team combos I need to make things a little more complete in my own eyes. There's still a fairly big gap from 1996 through the middle of this decade, when I was largely out of the hobby. Heck, at some point I might be sufficiently bored to rearrange my cards by player name and thereby to refill my binders with my various player movement tableaus.

Now that I reread that last sentence...I sure hope I'm never that bored.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Felix Pie, 2009 Topps #504

Ugh. I have a temper, especially when watching sports, so I do my best not to "blog angry". Last night I watch Felix Pie make the Birds' 479th out on the basepaths, thereby blunting a first-inning rally. I fumed and sputtered and considered filling this space with my sharpest invective against the stumbling, bumbling O's and their baffling lack of baseball IQ. But I figured that 24 hours of cooling off were in order, and with a day to mull it over I've lost the desire to go that route. Besides, others have already stated the case much more completely than I ever could. Instead, I'll talk about Felix Pie.

Look, I really wanted to like Felix, for reasons both compelling and ridiculous. His name doubles as a delicious dessert (though it's pronounced pee-YAY, sadly). He wears his socks high. He put up fantastic minor league numbers over several years, but never put it together with the Cubs. He overcame a Spring 2008 bout of testicular torsion, which just sounds painful beyond my comprehension. But his first couple of months in Baltimore have made it very difficult to be a Piehead.

The O's aren't going anywhere this year (spoiler alert!), so they said all of the right things early this year about giving Felix a chance to establish himself as a major league starter. He'd never had that chance in win-now Chicago, after all. But not only did Pie get off to an awful start in orange and black, he looked terrible doing it. I understand that left field isn't his natural position, but I can't think of any other center fielders who moved over to the corner and immediately turned into a drunken antelope. Still, I was surprised to see the O's bench Pie six weeks into the season. Of course, when Nolan Reimold took his place and immediately started hitting home runs, the ex-Cub's fate as a seldom-seen fourth outfielder was sealed.

It's a lot easier to accept him as a pinch runner/defensive insurance kind of guy, but weird stuff just keeps happening when he's around. In a rare start in Oakland, he fouled a ball off of his own throat and had to leave the game after only one at-bat. Tuesday night in Miami, he was brought in as part of a double-switch in the seventh inning. He played left field for two-thirds of an inning, and was replaced by pinch hitter Oscar Salazar in the top half of the following inning. Last night, Felix got an increasingly rare start so that Adam Jones might rest a bit. In his own inimitable style, he got two hits and still managed to raise the ire of his manager and the fans. In the first, there was the aforementioned baserunning blunder. On the back end of a double steal with Brian Roberts, he stopped dead in his tracks while the catcher threw to second base, then made a half-assed attempt at a rundown and was easily tagged. I'm still not sure what happened. Then in the seventh inning, with the O's having cut the Marlins' lead to one run, Florida third baseman Emilio Bonifacio stole second, advanced to third on an overthrow by Matt Wieters...and scored when Pie came up with the ball in center field and again froze up before making the relay thrown back to the infield. Dave Trembley was infuriated, and pinch-hit for him with Jones in the following half-inning. He had some harsh comments for the youngster after the game, which made me question a few things:

As I said, the Birds have been making boneheaded mistakes like this all year. Getting thrown out going first-to-third, getting picked off here and there, running into busted hit-and-runs, etc., etc., etc. Why did Felix get singled out? Was Trembley just at his boiling point, or is he having problems with this particular player behind the scenes?

Throughout his turbulent three months in Baltimore, Felix has had a secure place on the major league roster because he's out of options. Simply put, the O's would have to expose him to waivers before sending him to the minor leagues, and a player with his set of tools (there's that word) would surely be grabbed by some other team willing to overlook his lack of major league success. The Orioles weren't willing to chance losing him. But every day his leash seems to get shorter. At some point they'll have to ask themselves just what there is to lose.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kevin Brown, 1996 Topps #376

Last night I discussed some of the strange maladies of Brady Anderson. Tonight I'm featuring Kevin Brown, who had a penchant for stabbing at balls hit back up the middle with his bare pitching hand, which strikes me as a particularly stupid instinct. Of course when it comes to stupid self-inflicted injuries, Kevin had a real doozy near the end of his career. It was 2004, when he was playing out the string with the Yankees. They had traded for him because he was old and expensive, and therefore passed the Yankee Test. On September 3, he started against the Orioles and took the loss, giving up three runs in six innings against his former club. After being pulled from the game, he stormed into the Yankee Stadium clubhouse and punched a wall with his left (non-pitching hand). Despite having the presence of mind to protect his money-making hand, the tempremental veteran missed three weeks of action after having pins inserted in the broken appendage.

Of course, New York fans probably wished that he had smashed the other hand, as he returned just in time to lose three of his last four decisions. This included an absolute thrashing in the deciding game of the 2004 ALCS, in which the Red Sox chased him in the second inning. He allowed five runs and recorded four outs, and Boston completed their comeback from a three games to none deficit in the best-of-seven series in an anticlimactic fashion. If the clubhouse attendant had any sense, he probably covered the clubhouse walls with foam rubber before Joe Torre gave Brown the hook.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Brady Anderson, 2001 Fleer Showcase #39

It's only right that this card depicts Brady Anderson in a dirty uniform. Like several of the Orioles of the Cal Ripken, Jr. era, you practically had to drag him off of the field to get him to take a day off to rest. He kept on playing right through a broken rib, broken hand, appendicitis (yes, really. He declined the surgery and pilots on O's charter flights were given emergency landing instructions should things take a turn for the worse!). My favorite Anderson story involves a close call on the way to the ballpark. He was rollerblading to Camden Yards (because it was the '90s and he was Brady) when a nearby bus driver didn't spot the outfielder and turned right into him. Brady was knocked underneath the bus, but of course he pulled himself back up and made it to the stadium. In his own words, “It hurt pretty bad. I came into the weight room and took off my pants, and I was bleeding all over the place.” Somehow Anderson kept the incident under wraps, played the game, and racked up a couple hits and a few strong plays in the field. Talk about your close calls.

I didn't have nearly as close a call as Brady Anderson did, but I still haven't wrapped my mind around the Metro car collision near the Maryland state line Monday afternoon. I take the Metro every day, and it never occurred to me that there could be an accident that would claim the lives of nine people. As it so happens, my daily commute doesn't go near Fort Totten. I only take the Red Line for three stops, from Metro Center to Union Station. Still, I occasionally drive to Greenbelt instead of riding the MARC Train, and in those instances it would be feasible for me to stay on the Red Line up to Fort Totten before switching to Green. By the time I got off of work, the accident had already occurred, though I didn't know the extent of the damage. For me, it seemed like no more than a 10-minute inconvenience in a day that had already been full of them. But the details started trickling in: two trains collided, one train wound up ON TOP of the other, possibly some fatalities. It was bizarre to have aunts and uncles and cousins calling the house to make sure that I was still alive.

In case you're wondering, I took the bus instead this morning, but was back on the Metro in the afternoon. Random as it may be, life goes on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mike Flanagan, 1985 O-Pee-Chee #46

Tonight I've got another entry from the "Kevin is oblivious" files. As I've already mentioned, last Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending Paul Lukas' Uni Watch gathering at Racers in Parkville. I had a great time talking about the O's with several of the other folks in attendance, but between my tendency to be easily sidetracked and the relatively limited amount of time (two and a half hours were carved out for the event), I didn't get a chance to formally meet everyone. When I introduced myself to Paul, he mentioned that there was a gentleman sitting at the bar in a classic Maryland Terrapins tee who worked for the Orioles. I eventually made my way over to his area, and I vaguely remember briefly speaking to him and his significant other, but again I don't think we exchanged names and other vitals before my attention was grabbed by something else. It could have been a Nick Markakis single, or maybe I felt the need to compliment another party-goer on his Baltimore Skipjacks hockey jersey. I didn't give the whole thing another thought until Friday morning, when Paul finally posted a photo essay of the meetup on his Uni Watch Blog.

I started reading and clicking through to the photos, grateful to put names with faces. The guy in the Terps tee was Jack Krabbe, and his role with the Orioles is corporate sales. What really gob-smacked me was the identity of Jack's companion. The young woman was his fiancee Kerry, and she just happens to be Mike Flanagan's daughter. My first thought: I can't believe that I shared a drink with Flanny's daughter and didn't even realize it! My second thought: Oops, I hope I didn't bad-mouth him that night...or in any of my blog posts. Well, I can't vouch for my conversation material that evening, but at least as far as the blog content goes, I seem to have treated #46 pretty well. Whew. Anyhow, if Jack and/or Kerry are reading, it was nice to meet you, however briefly, and if our paths cross again, we'll have to talk shop.
From left: Kerry Flanagan, yours truly, Dan Sliwinski, Sean Combetti, and Joe Hilseberg

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cal Ripken, Sr., 1989 Bowman #260

To my knowledge, Cal Ripken, Sr. is the only coach to receive a card in the 1989 Bowman set. If you're wondering about the television motif, I'm pretty sure it's an homage to the 1955 Bowman design. I'm grateful for this oddity, as it makes for a great Father's Day card. Of course, "Senior" had made baseball history in 1987 as the first (and to date, the only) man to manage two of his sons on the same team. By the time the Aberdeen, MD native was tabbed to replace Earl Weaver as the Oriole manager, he had paid his dues as a player, coach, and manager in the Baltimore organization for three decades. As his reward, he was handed an aging team that had been in steady decline since winning the World Series in 1983. The club went 67-95 and finished ahead of only the Indians in the A.L. East. If you want to talk about a short leash, Cal was fired just six games into a winless start to the 1988 season. Frank Robinson took his place and proved that the manager wasn't the problem; the O's eventually lost a league-record 21 games before picking up their first win that year and dropped 107 in all.

Both of the Ripken boys were obviously hit hard by the hasty dismissal of their father. Cal Junior was deeply resentful and later admitted that he began having doubts about his own long-term future with the team. Billy switched from uniform number 3 to his dad's #7. Fortunately, the story had a somewhat happy ending. Robinson soon asked the elder Ripken to return as third-base coach, a position that he held until retiring in 1992. Cal Senior remained close to the Birds until his death in 1999. It's a classy and fitting testament to the literal and figurative father of the O's that no one has worn #7 since he hung up his spikes.

Kiko Garcia, 1981 Donruss #514

In 1979, Kiko Garcia committed 27 errors at shortstop and second base for the Orioles. That's the most miscues in one season by an Oriole since 1961, when Ron Hansen booted 31 balls. The team's all-time record is 34, by shortstop Willy Miranda in 1955. I guess that's my way of saying that everyone makes mistakes. I made an error in judgment by waiting until late last night to write a blog post. When I finally got around to it, I discovered that my Internet connection was not functioning properly. Everything is up and running now (obviously), so this is the first of two entries today. I'd like to say that you live and learn, but as you can see, I'm at the keyboard pretty late again tonight. Whoops!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vintage Fridays: Mickey Scott, 1973 Topps #553

There's a few things that I dig about this card:

-Mickey Scott's pose almost perfectly mirrors that of the "pitcher" silhouette in the bottom left corner of the card. If his back were a little straighter and his glove hand a little higher, it would be a match.

-Scott, whose birth name is Ralph Robert Scott, was born in Weimar, Germany. Not only is he the only German-born player in Orioles history, he's the only German player in all of Major League Baseball since 1947.

-Last, and certainly not least, a pitcher named Mickey is posing on a Spring Training field in front of an outfield advertisement for Walt Disney World. You can't tell me that the photographer didn't frame that shot on purpose.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Marv Throneberry, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #457

That's right; before Marv Throneberry was "Marvelous Marv", the clown prince of the 1962 Mets, he was an Oriole. After spending parts of three seasons with the Yankees and a year and a half in Kansas City, the flaky Tennessean was traded to the O's in June of 1961. He hit just .208 in 56 games in Baltimore that year, but did swat five home runs in 96 at-bats. His finest game as a Bird was the first half of a June 27 doubleheader, when he punished his former team by homering twice and singling in a run in a 5-3 win over the A's.

Throneberry actually began the 1962 season in Baltimore, but went 0-for-9 in nine games before being dealt to the Mets. There he became a legend for his often-bizarre gameplay, committing 17 errors in 97 games at first base and on one occasion being called out for hitting a triple and failing to touch second base. (According to legend, manager Casey Stengel came out to argue, but either the first base coach or the umpire warned him not to bother, because Marv had missed first base as well!)

With the Orioles rebounding from a game one loss to win back-to-back games against the Mets in exciting fashion, I thought "Marvelous Marv" would be an appropriate guest of honor this evening. Some of the nicest people that I've encountered online during my blogging and webmastering travails are Mets fans, so I hope they don't mind a good-natured tweaking!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jim Palmer, 2007 Upper Deck Sweet Spot Classic Memorabilia #CM-JP

I'm a bit disappointed with this scan; the swatch of jersey embedded in this Jim Palmer card is much brighter and much oranger (that should be a word) in person. This could very well be one of the jerseys that made poor Boog Powell look like a giant pumpkin in the early 1970s, when the O's briefly flirted with the ill-conceived all-orange polyester uniform. Paul Lukas has made this sort of sports habadashery his domain with the excellent Uni Watch blog, which has gone from the Village Voice to ESPN.com and branched out into the aforementioned wide-ranging personal site. It was through Paul's site that I first stumbled upon Mets by the Numbers, which inspired me to compile the uniform number history of the Orioles. So it was with great excitement that I learned (just this morning!) that Paul would be hosting a Uni Watch get-together this evening at Racer's in Parkville, a nifty little bar that was just 25 minutes from my house.

I had a great time meeting Paul and talking sports with him and with several local fanatics, including Joe Hilseberg, who used to stitch the letters and numbers on jerseys for the Orioles and the Ravens. Joe and I have corresponded by email on several occasions, and he selflessly put his graphic design skills to use by producing a number of great-looking images for my NumerOlogy site. Of course, the topper on the evening was watching a hard-fought 6-4 victory by the O's over Paul's Mets, which I hope he won't hold against his fans and contemporaries in Baltimore.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brad Pennington, 1993 Score Select Rookies and Traded #75T

Former Orioles reliever, or should I say "thrower", Brad Pennington was born on April 14, 1969. Of course, that wasn't the only terrible thing that happened to the O's that year. Baltimore was the juggernaut of the American League, winning 109 games and losing 53 for a .673 percentage. No other team in the A.L. came within a dozen games of that win total, and the club had at least a ten-game lead in the Eastern division every day from June 28 through the end of the season. There were only five losing streaks of three games or more, and the longest was a five-game skid at the end of the regular season. They steamrolled through the 97-win Twins in the ALCS in three straight, and that's when things got weird.

Their World Series opponent was the New York Mets, a team that didn't exist until 1962 and was a laughingstock for most of the decade. The Mets shouldn't have been overlooked, as they'd won 100 games and engineered a thrilling stretch run to overtake the front-running Cubs. But most prognosticators assumed that the Birds would have little trouble dispatching the boys from Flushing. Of course, we know what happened; not only did the O's not beat the Mets, they only won a single game in the entire Series. The "Amazin' Mets" became a part of baseball history, and a team that many (including most of the men who played on it) considered the best team in franchise history was relegated to something of an afterthought.

I wasn't even born until 1982, by which time only three members of that great Baltimore team were still active. The Birds won the World Series the following year, and they would do it again in 1983. But to this day, I still feel pangs of disappointment, regret, and annoyance when I read or hear about those "Amazin' Mets". I have no rational reason for this; the only one of those guys that I ever saw play was Nolan Ryan, and by that point he was a 46-year-old veteran at the end of the line. But there's nothing rational about being a sports fan, and I'm blind to the thrilling topsy-turvy underdog storyline in that 1969 Fall Classic. From my viewpoint, they were a bunch of lucky stiffs who denied Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, and crew their rightful place alongside the great baseball dynasties. I've done my homework. I know that J. C. Martin should have been called out for interference, and that Frank Robinson got hit by that pitch (but Cleon Jones didn't). I know that Ron Swoboda's diving catch was a bit of happenstance...

So here we are again. Orioles vs. Mets. New York just took the first one. Sloppy fielding. An inability to get that clutch hit. History better not repeat itself over the next two days.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Al Bumbry, 1985 Donruss #350

As the incredibly irritating theme park song says, it's a small world after all. Just three weeks ago, I was taking in an Orioles game from MASN's private suite when I noticed that Al Bumbry and his son had dropped by. I spoke briefly to "the Bee", but I didn't realize that I was also in the presence of a future Oriole. Last week, the Birds drafted Steven Bumbry with their 12th-round pick. This year, Steve led Virginia Tech with 10 home runs and batted .283 while patrolling the outfield. It's great to see a name from the team's past being given the opportunity to help the team in the coming years.

Bumbry wasn't the only familiar name to be drafted. The O's used their 31st-round pick on Mike Flacco, whose older brother Joe just quarterbacked the Ravens to the AFC Championship game in his rookie season. Mike's a long shot, as you might surmise from his late selection; he returned to baseball after a football-related back injury shelved him for three years and played at a comparatively low level of competition (junior college). Still, a .399 average, 14 HR and 51 RBI in 46 games is impressive after being away from the game for so long. It creates goodwill with the football-crazed local fans and, as Mike himself suggested, ensures Joe's Orioles fandom for the next few years. Heck, if Mike Flacco ever makes it to Camden Yards, it'll be a great story.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention the White Sox's 45th-round selection, left fielder Harold Baines, Jr. The son of the former three-time Orioles designated hitter (also named Harold Baines...what a coincidence!) hit .349 in his collegiate career at McDaniel College (formerly Western Maryland), and became the first Green Terror player to ever be drafted. I'm curious to hear what Harold's biggest fan Steve has to say about this pick. Ball's in your court, buddy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Miguel Tejada, 2005 Topps #694

How perfect and clairvoyant is this card? Obviously, the photo was taken during the 2004 All-Star Game Home Run Derby (July 11, 2004), when Miguel Tejada and hometown favorite Lance Berkman blasted shot after shot over the fence at Houston's Minute Maid Park. Between the two of them they hit 48 homers total, and Miggy eventually came out on top by besting "Fat Elvis" 5-4 in the final round. It was only right, as he set records (since broken) for home runs in a single round (15) and total home runs (27). Of course the duo became teammates in 2008 when the O's traded Tejada to the Astros for five players, Luke Scott chief among them.

Though Houston has struggled since they got their new shortstop, the team had a very notable inning on Saturday night highlighted by offensive milestones from the above-dubbed Kings of Swing. In the sixth inning, Tejada had an RBI single for his 2,000th career hit, making him the 29th shortstop to achieve that mark. In one of those serendipitous coincidences that make baseball so enjoyable, Berkman slammed his 12th home run of the season just two batters later to score Miggy; it happened to be the 300th round-tripper of his 11-year career.

Congratulations to both players. I've always liked Lance for his goofy nicknames ("The Big Puma" is another of them), his unassuming personality, and his unreal batting prowess. I spent four years of my life rooting for Miggy, and I still want him to succeed in spite of some of the ugly headlines he's made in the past year or two.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1999 Topps Finest #82

The significance of this date would have escaped me if not for the Cardboard Junkie's commemorative post, so thanks Dave! Yes indeed. Ten years ago today, in front of 45,738 fans in Turner Field, the O's won their fourth game in a row, bludgeoning the Braves by a score of 22-1. They scored the most runs in franchise history (until a 23-1 win over Toronto the following year), tallying crooked numbers in seven different innings. The game was still over in three hours and three minutes, thanks to the Braves' weak bats. Every Baltimore starter had a hit, including winning pitcher Mike Mussina, who went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Cal Ripken, Jr. had the greatest offensive performance of his storied career, going 6-for-6 with a double, two home runs, five runs scored, and six RBI. Also among the team's 25 hits were home runs by Will Clark and Charles Johnson and three doubles by Clark (who totaled five RBI). The Birds went 13-for-22 with runners in scoring position!

So who were the poor saps on the other end of this historical beatdown? You might have heard of the starting pitcher, John Smoltz. He's won 210 games in his career, but killed his chances of a victory on that day with a five-run first inning on his way to a third-inning exit. Reliever Justin Speier was almost as bad, coughing up a six-pack in two and two-thirds. Kevin McGlinchy surrendered another three runs in an inning, Russ Springer was good for four more in his one inning, and (after a scoreless frame by Mike Remlinger) Rudy Seanez had the honor of giving up a single to portly hurler Rocky Coppinger as part of a two-run ninth.

Just to put this ridiculous, wonderful game in perspective, the Orioles scored as many runs in one night as they just did in their past twelve games (May 30-June 12, 2009). Thankfully, with eight runs on the board this evening, they seem to have expunged the holes in their bats.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Vintage Fridays: Woodie Held, 1967 Topps #251

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.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Paul Kilgus, 1992 Score #268

Previously on Orioles Card 'O' the Day, I dithered over Twitter. Though the most vocal of you seemed to be on the "con" side of the argument (or more accurately, the "What's the point?" side of it), I broke down and signed up. I've added a Twitter widget to the left sidebar on this blog. It's at the bottom of the sidebar, so hopefully you can ignore it if you're so inclined. For those who are so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/brotz13. Now that I got that out of the way, I solemnly swear never to type "Twitter" three times in one paragraph again.

So, today's card-centric business. I first picked this card out just for a cheap laugh at Paul Kilgus' curly mullet and cop 'stache. But then I noticed some uncanny parallels to recently departed reliever Jamie Walker. For your consideration:

-Kilgus was a left-handed relief pitcher from Kentucky. He was drafted by a Texas team (the Rangers) and made his major league debut at age 25. He was 6'1", 175 pounds. He had a 5.08 ERA in his only season with the Orioles.

-Walker was a left-handed relief pitcher from Tennessee. He was drafted by a Texas team (the Astros) and made his major league debut at age 25. He was 6'2", 190 pounds. He had a 5.11 ERA in his final season with the Orioles.

Look, it would be irresponsible of me to accuse Paul Kilgus, whose major league career ended in 1993, of shaving his mustache, cutting off his mullet, and reinventing himself as Jamie Walker, whose major league career began in 1997. But the proof is in the pudding. Examine the following photos closely, and judge for yourself. If you're still not sold, ponder the following: Jamie Walker was supposedly one of the "replacement players" brought into Spring Training by the MLB owners in 1995 while the MLBPA players were on strike. Because of this fact, he was never allowed membership thereafter in the Players' Association. As a result, his face never graced a baseball card. Of course, this conveniently kept that same face from intense scrutiny by industrious sleuthing baseball fans. Did I just blow your mind?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Brian Roberts, 2008 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts #44

Alright, I need to do something constructive after another anemic offensive performance by them O's. Melvin Mora is in his tenth season with the Orioles, and Brian Roberts his ninth. Let's check their progress on the team's all time statistical leader board, okay?


1. Cal Ripken, Jr. 3,184
2. Brooks Robinson 2,848
3. Eddie Murray 2,080
4. Brady Anderson 1,614
5. Boog Powell 1,574
6. Ken Singleton 1,455
7. Paul Blair 1,426
8. Al Bumbry 1,403
9. Mark Belanger 1,304
10. Melvin Mora 1,245
11. Brian Roberts 1,163


1. Cal Ripken, Jr. 603
2. Brooks Robinson 482
3. Eddie Murray 363
4. Brady Anderson 329
5. Brian Roberts 280
6. Paul Blair 269
7. Boog Powell 243
8. Melvin Mora 236
9. Ken Singleton 235
10. Al Bumbry 217


1. Brooks Robinson 68
2. Brady Anderson 64
3. Al Bumbry 52
4. Paul Blair 51
5. Cal Ripken, Jr. 44
6. Luis Aparicio 34
7. Mark Belanger 33
(tie) Brian Roberts 33
9. Mike Devereaux 32
10. Bobby Grich 27


1. Cal Ripken, Jr. 431
2. Eddie Murray 343
3. Boog Powell 303
4. Brooks Robinson 268
5. Rafael Palmeiro 223
6. Brady Anderson 209
7. Ken Singleton 182
8. Frank Robinson 179
9. Melvin Mora 152
10. Chris Hoiles 151


1. Cal Ripken, Jr. 1,695
2. Brooks Robinson 1,357
3. Eddie Murray 1,224
4. Boog Powell 1,063
5. Ken Singleton 766
6. Brady Anderson 744
7. Rafael Palmeiro 701
8. Melvin Mora 629
9. Paul Blair 567
10. B. J. Surhoff 551


1. Brady Anderson 307
2. Al Bumbry 252
3. Brian Roberts 237
4. Paul Blair 167
5. Luis Aparicio 166
(tie) Mark Belanger 166
7. Don Baylor 118
8. Jerry Hairston, Jr. 94
9. Don Buford 85
10. Corey Patterson (yes, really) 82


1. Cal Ripken, Jr. 1,647
2. Brooks Robinson 1,232
3. Eddie Murray 1,084
4. Brady Anderson 1,044
5. Boog Powell 796
6. Al Bumbry 772
7. Paul Blair 737
8. Ken Singleton 684
9. Melvin Mora 678
10. Mark Belanger 670
11. Brian Roberts 663

Puts these recent fan favorites in a historical perspective, I'd say. Naturally, none of our current pitchers are making a dent on the all-time Orioles leaders list, but it's worth mentioning that George Sherrill passed B. J. Ryan for 12th on the saves register with his 43rd. Three more and he'll pass the #11 man...Don Stanhouse. Actually, Chris Ray is #10 with 49 saves, and I suppose the door is still open for him to come back and rack up a few more. So, even if the Birds can't right the ship in 2009, you can keep the tally going with every Brian Roberts or Melvin Mora hit...let's hope there are lots of them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ben McDonald, 1990 Score #680

Earlier this evening, former Orioles #1 overall draft pick Ben McDonald represented the team as they chose high school pitcher Matt Hobgood fifth overall in the 2009 amateur draft. While many think of the lanky Cajun as a draft bust (after all, he went 78-70 with a 3.91 ERA in his career, hardly commensurate with the hype that surrounded him), he was one of the more successful #1 picks in O's history. A quick swing by Baseball Reference's draft database tells us that including supplemental picks, 27 of the club's 55 first-round picks have made it to the big leagues. That's a 49% success rate, though Brian Matusz (and perhaps Brandon Snyder) should push the club over the halfway point in the next year or two. Let's take a closer look at some of those picks, shall we?

-With Nick Markakis still in just his fourth major league season and Matt Wieters still learning on the fly, at this point I would declare Mike Mussina to be the best first-rounder selected thus far by Baltimore. The O's actually drafted Moose twice; in 1987, they'd tabbed him in the 11th round coming out of high school, but he didn't sign. Good things come to those who wait!

-A good runner-up is Bobby Grich, who the Birds selected in 1967 and coaxed away from UCLA, where he was slated to compete for the starting quarterback job. Grich was a six-time All-Star and the winner of four Gold Gloves at second base, and he's woefully underrated these days. Twenty picks later, the club selected Don Baylor with their second-round choice. Pats on the back all around!

-Brian Roberts was one of the supplemental picks, as he was taken with the 50th overall pick in 1999. That selection was awarded to the O's as compensation for losing Rafael Palmeiro to free agency. Thanks to the departures of Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, and Eric Davis after the 1998 season, the team had 7 of the first 50 picks. In a perfect exhibition of both the uncertain nature of the draft and the shaky judgment of that particular front office, Roberts was the only one of those seven to have anything approaching a solid career. The others: Mike Paradis, Richard Stahl, Larry Bigbie, Keith Reed, Joshua Cenate, and Scott Rice. Eugh. For what it's worth, Erik Bedard was the team's sixth-round choice that year.

-Pitcher Pete Harnisch was also a supplemental pick, chosen 27th overall in 1987 as compensation for the loss of Rick Dempsey. He won 111 games in his career, though 95 of them came after the dag-blasted Glenn Davis trade.

-None of the team's 29 picks in 1983 made it to the major leagues. The #1 choice was high school pitcher Wayne Wilson. Whoops.

-Some notable players who were drafted in later rounds by the Orioles but did not sign: Bill Fahey, 1968 (Brandon's dad, made a career as a backup catcher); Dick Ruthven, 1969 (17-10, 3.55 for the 1980 World Champ Phillies); Rick Honeycutt, 1972 (LHRP lasted 21 years in the majors, mostly with the A's and Dodgers); Bob Melvin, 1979 (a decade later, finally joined the O's); Cecil Fielder, 1981 (future Tigers slugger turned down what must have been awesome bonus money as a 31st round pick); Walt Weiss, 1982 (1988 Rookie of the Year with A's); Dell Curry, 1985 (future NBA three-point specialist was also a RHP at Virginia Tech); Joey Hamilton, 1988 (won 74 games in 10 seasons); Mike Lansing, 1989 (.271 hitter with the Expos, Rockies, and Red Sox); Michael Young, 1994 (five-time All-Star SS for the Rangers); Mike MacDougal, 1996 and 1998 (O's attempted drafting the one-time Royals All-Star closer twice); Cliff Lee, 1998 (last year's AL Cy Young - what could have been!).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ernie Whitt, 1991 Leaf #391

Ernie Whitt, huh? Whitt rhymes with twit, which is the first syllable of "Twitter". To date, I've taken a principled stand on Twitter, thinking (probably rightly so) that it was just another Internet time suck, an application designed to help our society amble along down the path of self-absorption and text-message-ish illiteracy. I still have my reservations, but my resolve is crumbling. Frankly, I can see some benefits to being the absolute last person on this particular online train. Often, I don't get a chance to update my NumerOlogy website as quickly as I'd like when there's breaking uniform number news with the Orioles. If I had a Twitter account, I could fire off a quick burst to inform the masses (i.e., the five people who would actually follow me). Then, when I had more time, I could post a proper update on the website itself. I could also post links to my writing whenever I had a new entry here, or on my 1965 Topps blog, or even at Crunchable. Maybe I'd even regale you with an occasional 146-character dose of my sparkling wit. There is still one thing that I will absolutely not bend on, ever: under no circumstances will I refer to the process as "tweeting". If I'm being honest, that's at least 30% of my issue with Twitter.

So, I'm giving you a say in this, readers. Should I be the next Twitter...guy? Should I stay out of it? Do you not give a flying fig one way or the other?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Earl Weaver, 2003 Upper Deck Vintage #133

I've talked about Upper Deck Vintage before. I suppose if they were going to have the nerve to rip off their chief competitor's classic designs, they at least had the good sense to rip off the very best of those designs. This card, of course, cribs the 1965 Topps set; I happen to have a mild interest in the originals.

Earl Weaver looks absolutely terrible in this photo. He looks pale, old, tired, and haggard. I'm fairly certain that this photo was taken at some point after his retirement, maybe a fantasy camp or a visit to Spring Traning. I can certainly identify with the Earl of Baltimore, after a hideous week of baseball. Twice in three days O's starting pitchers lasted two-thirds of an inning. Two...thirds. The team won a single game on a six-game west coast road trip against two of the worst, weakest-hitting teams in baseball. There were pointless baserunning mistakes and a complete offensive meltdown involving everyone not named Luke or Nolan; thirteen runs in the last eight games ain't so good. To top it off, Jamie Walker was released, Cesar Izturis had an appendectomy, and Felix Pie fouled a ball off and it hit his Adam's apple on the rebound. This is not fun. I know, it's a long season, etc., etc., but it just drives me nuts. Last weekend, the O's seemed to reach a turning point, as Matt Wieters' debut came in front of 42,000 screaming fans and the club won their seventh game in eight tries. And now, this.

Whose brilliant idea was it to make the baseball season 162 games long?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Melvin Mora, 2006 Upper Deck #64

It's time to gaze at more goofy faces in the crowd at an Orioles-Yankees game at the old Yankee Stadium. My favorites include:

-The guy in the light blue shirt at top left who's shoveling popcorn or peanuts into his craw

-The man in white a row or two below him, who appears to be clutching his hand to his head due to a case of "the vapors"

-The lady in pink at far right who is preparing to hurl her water bottle at Melvin Mora

-The dude in the polo shirt who is standing up to pick his wedgie

-His buddy in the navy blue tee, whose hand he is holding (Melvin is blocking our view of the tender moment)

If you think that two nights worth of silly posts is my way of avoiding any talk of the Orioles' disastrous play, you would be correct.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vintage Fridays: Hank Foiles, 1962 Topps #112

I love that Hank Foiles is posed in his catcher's crouch with his throwing hand balled into a fist. I'd like to think that this was his regular defensive position, and that the Mighty Fist of Foiles served as an unspoken warning and challenge to all comers.

"Hey, ump? You wanna call that a ball? Go ahead, I dare ya!"

"Hey, batter? You think you're gonna peek back at me for the pitch call? Think again, punk."

"Oh, Mr. Baserunner...you look a little antsy down there at second. I might not break for third if I were you."

"You listen to me, Hoyt Wilhelm, and you listen good. If you so much as think about throwing me that dadgum knuckleball, it will be your last."

"Skip, remember when you yanked me for a pinch hitter last night? Won't be doing that again, will ya?"

Hank Foiles is a bad, bad man.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jim Palmer, 2005 Upper Deck MVP Batter Up! #BU-17

With his win earlier this evening, 45-year-old Randy Johnson became the 24th pitcher in baseball history to win 300 career games. I don't necessarily buy into the talk that he could be the last to ever do it, what with specialty relievers and five-man rotations and the rock and roll music and what have you. I read a thought-provoking piece by Bill James and Joe Posnanski that points out that this decade has been a boom period for 300-game winners. Johnson would be the fourth pitcher to reach this milestone in the Aughts (following Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine). There were none in the 1950s or the 1970s, and Tony LaRussa wasn't even around in those days to receive the blame. The four aforementioned guys managed to do it because they were quality pitchers year-in and year-out for a long time. As Posnanski elaborates on his blog, you never know how a pitcher will age. The winningest pitchers by age 25, 27, 29, and 31 never got to 300. The guys that have done it won more games on average from 35-39 than they did in their "primes" of age 25-29. Longevity is the name of the game when it comes to the three-oh-oh.

Of course, it's always been (and will continue to be) pretty dang hard to win that many games. Jim Palmer was the greatest pitcher in Orioles history, and never got to 300. He won 20 games eight times in a nine-year span, threw 3,948 innings in his career, and didn't quite make it. If he doesn't miss most of 1967 and all of 1968 with injuries, he probably does it, but we'll never know. He's in the record books with 268. How about Mike Mussina? Pitched for 18 years, won double-digit games in all but his rookie year (when he was called up in August), and bowed out with 270 Ws. He retired after his first-ever 20-win season, so he could've kept going. But taking into account his age and his other recent seasons, Moose acknowledged himself that it could take as many as three years to get those last 30 victories and he just couldn't commit to that.

So here's to Randy Johnson. He might not be the last 300-game winner, but you never know how long it will be until the next guy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Erik Bedard, 2007 Bowman Chrome #26

With Erik Bedard becoming the latest starting pitcher to make Baltimore's batting order look bad, now is as good a time as any to check in on the ex-O's who have scattered across the league. In essence, I'm building upon a post written by Stacey over at Camden Chat. It's interesting to note that the Yanks and Red Sawx have not wasted an MLB roster spot on a single former Oriole in 2009, and they're doing pretty well with that strategy. There are more of these guys than you'd imagine, so I'll be skipping the more forgettable of the bunch. Onward!

Kevin Millar: Kevbo is chugging along with a .277 AVG and 3 HR, 18 RBI as Toronto's #2 first baseman and designated hitter.

B. J. Ryan: Attempting to come back from elbow surgery, the $47 million Jay has lost his closer's job and sports an 8.74 ERA and 2.11 WHIP. But he's not even the worst ex-Bird to toe the rubber for Toronto this year. That honor goes to...

Brian Burres: The gawky, soft-tossing lefty made two starts for the injury-wracked Jays, allowing seventeen men on base in 6 and 1/3 innings and losing both games before being bum-rushed back to AAA.

Lance Cormier: Still doing his long-relief thing, Lance has fashioned a 2.19 ERA in 18 games for the Rays.

Luis Hernandez: Looie Looie, of the Five-Headed-Shortstop-Monster of 2008, has appeared in 10 games for the Royals, with predictable results (.497 OPS, 1 RBI).

Sidney Ponson: Sir Sidney inexplicably remains on the K.C. staff, despite a 1-5 record, 7.27 ERA, and 58 hits in 43 and 1/3 innings.

David Dellucci: Is he really 35? A rookie on the 1997 wire-to-wire team, he batted a fairly empty .275 in 40 at-bats for the Indians but had largely been a disappointment since signing a three-year deal in December 2006. They released him earlier this week.

Greg Aquino: An absolutely miserable reliever in his few appearances in Baltimore last year, Aquino tantalized Tribe fans with four scoreless appearances in May before imploding against the Yankees on Monday night (1.1 IP, 1 H, 4 BB, 4 ER).

Kris Benson: After missing 2007 with shoulder surgery and spending 2008 rehabbing in the minors, Anna's husband is languishing in the Ranger bullpen (18 ER in 20 IP, 1.95 WHIP).

Gary Matthews, Jr.: The outfielder is batting .262 with a .346 slugging percentage and 15 RBI in 32 games for the Someplace in California Angels. Money well spent, guys.

Guillermo Quiroz: Despite a sub-Mendoza batting average at AAA, he was just recalled by the Mariners, who are very weak at catcher even when their #1 and #2 guys are healthy. He's 1-for-4 with 2 RBI, so that's something right there.

Erik Bedard: Despite the 4-2 record and 2.37 ERA, and 9 K/9 IP, I still feel pretty good about the O's end of the trade with the Mariners.

Garrett Olson: One of last season's shaky young pitchers has picked up where he left off, giving up 26 hits in 25 innings and working up a relatively lucky 4.68 ERA in seven games in Seattle.

Jack Cust: Stumblin' Jack is doing his usual thing in Oakland (.253 AVG, .345 OBP, 8 HR).

Jamie Moyer: The 46-year-old control artist is off to a rough start with the Phillies (4-5, 6.75 ERA), though he pitched well in his last start. Then again, it WAS the Nationals.

Fernando Tatis: A veteran that the Mets snatched from oblivion, he's not quite been up to his 2008 performance. He's at .269 with a pair of home runs.

John Maine: He's still plugging along in the middle of the Met rotation - 5-3, 3.75 ERA.

Hayden Penn: The only question here is why the Marlins have used him fifteen times. A 7.48 ERA and 2.12 WHIP won't have the Birds longing to reunite with their former "top prospect". But hey, he's got 27 K in 21.2 innings.

Alex Cintron: 2-for-26 for Washington before they turfed him. And he was our BEST-hitting shortstop in '08.

Daniel Cabrera: Hoo boy. He was 0-for-5 with a 5.85 ERA and 2.08 WHIP in D.C. 35 walks, 16 strikeouts, 10 wild pitches in 40 innings. "I was tired of watching him," was GM Mike Rizzo's quote after Danny Cabs was released last week. The Marlins are interested in him for god knows what reason.

Jorge Julio: Posting him back-to-back with Cabrera can make a guy dizzy. 7.79 ERA, 15 BB, 13 K. After giving up five runs without getting an out on Monday night (including 2 HBP), he was finished in Milwaukee.

Ramon Hernandez: Razor is a .282 hitter with 3 HR and 21 RBI in Cincinnati. I do not miss him even a little bit.

Jerry Hairston, Jr.: The one-time second baseman of the future is hitting .262 with the Reds, but has gone deep seven times. Say what?

Arthur Rhodes: At 39, he's the second-oldest ex-Oriole in the bigs, and he's been great as a LOOGY (0.50 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in 18 IP).Good pickup for Cincy.

Ryan Freel: If Joey Gathright never plays a game for the O's, I'm alright with the trade that sent Freel to the Cubs (3-for-18, currently on the DL again).

Miguel Tejada: The 33-year-old (whoops, 35!) shortstop is playing like gangbusters (.362, 20 2B, 6 HR). Of course, he's walked six times and his Houston team is lousy, so nyahhh.

LaTroy Hawkins: I'm a bit perturbed that he's closing for the Astros. A 2.38 ERA and seven saves, and he doesn't get many opportunities.

Russ Ortiz: What? How? 3-2 with the 'Stros with a 4.76 ERA. A 1.86 WHIP suggests that things could get worse.

Juan Castro: .341 with 12 runs scored in 15 games for the Dodgers. That's it. The O's have to petition for a move to the National League.

Eric Byrnes: A .645 OPS, and still another year left on his 3-year, $30 million extension after this. Call it buyers' remorse.

So there you have it. Is there anyone in that rouge's gallery that you'd like to have back? I'd probably prefer Cormier to Mark Hendrickson, and Rhodes to Jamie Walker. That's probably it. I'm not completely sold on Maine for some reason.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mike Pagliarulo, 1994 Collector's Choice #224

From the "Way Out of Left Field" Department:

Last year, Major League Baseball did away with the Hall of Fame Game, an annual midsummer exhibition between two teams at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, NY. Sure, it was probably neat for folks to check out the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and pop next door to catch a game between big leaguers, but teams weren't going to risk injuries to their highly paid stars in a meaningless game. When Toronto actually let Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci take the field for their exhibition against the Orioles two years ago, that was probably the final nail in the coffin.

But the Hall of Fame had a fairly neat idea: the Hall of Fame Classic, featuring retired players. Apparently they had trouble gathering enough interested (and able) Hall of Famers to field two teams. Only five participants are actually enshrined in Cooperstown: Bob Feller, Fergie Jenkins, Phil Niekro, Paul Molitor, and Brooks Robinson. There are some other familiar names, though, including Jim Kaat, Bobby Grich, Lee Smith, George Foster, and Bill "Spaceman" Lee. But then there's a sharp drop-off. Thought Mike Pagliarulo is a random choice, even he is a stronger selection than the likes of Kevin Maas, John Doherty, former Oriole Anthony Telford, or B. J. Surhoff's brother Rich. B. J.'s older brother was a big league pitcher? It was news to me, too.

Hopefully the most recently-retired players (Mike Timlin, Jeff Kent) will take it easy on some of the old-timers. I'm sure the Hall of Fame doesn't want to be held responsible for any serious injuries. If anything disappoints me about the roster of players, it's that Rollie Fingers is nowhere to be found. He usually takes part in the celebrity softball games at the All-Star Break, and he's pretty entertaining to watch. He even still has the handlebar mustache. So, which retired player would you like to see toe the rubber or swing the bat one more time?

Monday, June 1, 2009

David Segui, 1994 Score #361

Here's a pressing question for fellow card collectors. When flipping through a stack of cards, do you take note of the players that make cameos on another player's card? I think it's a fun quirk to be able to see Grady Sizemore sliding into second base as Brian Roberts turns the double play, or a blurry Eddie Murray lurking in the on-deck circle as Cal Ripken, Jr. takes his hacks. I'll even go so far as to make a note in my computerized card database if an interloping player shows up on someone else's card (that's why I'm a hit with the ladies). Many times it's easy enough to tag the guest star, as is the case with Tim Hulett on this David Segui card. But sometimes I have to identify a catcher in full gear by his facial features, or a baserunner by his jersey number. Any time a baseball card spurs me on to a little extra research, that's not a bad thing. So am I alone in this mania, or do you harbor a secret curiosity for cameo players?