Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Johnny Schmitz, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #407

Johnny Schmitz, in addition to his smoky good looks, was a two-time All-Star early in his career, when he was a starter for the Cubs. In 1946, he went 11-11 with a 2.61 ERA and a league-high 135 strikeouts. Two years later, he was 18-13 with a 2.64 ERA for a last-place Chicago squad. But he was far removed from those days when he was acquired by the Orioles in May 1956. Then 35, he pitched sparingly out of the bullpen and put up an 0-3 record and a 3.99 ERA. When the O's released him at season's end, it signaled the end of the major league career of "Bear Tracks", so nicknamed for the way he paced around the pitchers' mound.

It's worth noting that Schmitz allowed only 3 home runs in 38.1 innings with the Birds, and one of those was served up to an Indians rookie named Rocky Colavito. It was the sixth of an eventual 374 career homers for the slugging outfielder, and the first of 39 that he would hit against Baltimore. A few weeks later, on August 10, 1956, Rocky hit his 11th. It also happened to be his 23rd birthday.

So what does all of this have to do with the price of soup? Well, August 10, 1956 was also the day that my uncle Jeff, the first baseball fanatic in my life, was born. As a kid, he always checked the bios on the backs of cards to see who shared his birthday (as I'm sure most of us did), and Colavito was the only one that really leapt out at him. Indeed, if you check the full list on Baseball-Reference, you won't see many exciting names on the 8/10 list. The only Orioles are 1950s reliever Bob Chakales and lunchpail catcher Sal Fasano. Note that Sal regrettably did not earn a card for his surprisingly productive 64-game stint in Baltimore in 2005; you can bet that I would have posted it in a blink. Maybe it's time I started rooting around for photos to make my own virtual cards. But I'm getting off-track.

So anyway, happy birthday, Uncle Jeff. I should also pass along birthday wishes to my mother and my cousin Brittany. August 10 is a jam-packed day in my family!

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