Friday, October 15, 2010
Vintage Fridays: Jim Palmer, 1966 Topps #126
-He stole one base in his career: August, 16, 1971 against the Brewers. In the ninth inning, the O's were up 3-2 and Mark Belanger singled with one out. While Palmer batted, "the Blade" was gunned down at second base by catcher Ellie Rodriguez. Ken Sanders proceeded to walk Palmer, who swiped second with Don Buford at the plate. It was for naught, as Buford flied out to end the inning. The O's won 3-2, with Palmer still possessing enough energy to complete his start.
-Although Jim pitched 17 times in the postseason, he never got the ball on his birthday. Oddly enough, he started three World Series games on October 14 and pitched twice more on October 16. He was winless in his five starts spanning those two dates, but won in his final Fall Classic appearance on October 16, 1983, when he tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Mike Flanagan in Game Three vs. the Phillies.
-One of the clubs that competed with the Orioles to sign Palmer as an amateur free agent in 1963 was the nascent Houston franchise. Houston GM (and ex-O's GM and manager) Paul Richards apparently made such a bad impression on Jim and his family that they crossed his team off of their list. So "The Wizard of Waxahachie" continued to help the Orioles even after he left the club!
-Though his earned run average was more than a half-run lower at Memorial Stadium (2.59) than on the road (3.13), he had the exact same number of wins at home as he did on the road: 134 each.
-Talk about consistency: his career ERAs by month ranged from 2.62 to 2.99. August was his best month by ERA and by win total (54-25).
-The team he beat most often was the Yankees: 30-16 with a 2.84 ERA and seven shutouts (his most against any team). I like the sound of that.
-In his major league career, Jim threw to 21 catchers. The top five in terms of innings: Rick Dempsey (1158), Elrod Hendricks (773.1), Andy Etchebarren (752.1), Dave Duncan (331), and Earl Williams (216.2).
-In addition to his 1969 no-hitter against Oakland, Palmer tossed five one-hit complete games in his career. On May 12, 1967, he retired the first 18 Yankees he faced before Horace Clarke led off the seventh inning with a single. He was immediately wiped out on a double play, and Jim was flawless for the rest of the game. He faced the minimum 27 batters and the O's trounced New York 14-0.
-According to Bill James' Game Score tool, Jim's best game was a gem from September 27, 1974. He shut out the Brewers for 12 innings on four hits and six walks (two intentional) for a Game Score of 93, but received no decision thanks to 13 equally masterful frames by Milwaukee's Jim Colborn! The O's pulled it out in the 17th on a walkoff fielder's choice grounder by Bob Oliver.
-Among others, Palmer shares his birthday with Roman poet Virgil (70 BC), German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844), British novelist P.G. Wodehouse (1881), "Godfather" author Mario Puzo (1920), automotive tycoon Lee Iacocca (1924), and actor and star of "The Wire" Dominic West (1969).