Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

Vintage Fridays: Mark Belanger, 1972 Topps #456

I'm still saddened by the news that the Rockies designated Jamie Moyer for assignment, which will likely bring an end to his 25-year big league career. It represents another signpost in my life's journey. The lefty made his debut with the Cubs on June 16, 1986, several weeks before my fourth birthday. I literally do not have any earthly memories that take place outside of Moyer's time as a major league pitcher.

But I suppose it's just baseball. Dozens of players retire every year, most with careers that last only a fraction as long as Jamie's has. Baseball Reference tells me that in 1982, the year of my birth, 132 men played in their final MLB game. Mark Belanger was among them, playing the last of his 18 seasons in an unfamiliar Dodgers uniform. Since I feel just a little bit older today anyhow, I thought I'd share a few other names with you.

There were 19 players who debuted in the 1960s and hung 'em up 30 years ago, led by Hall of Famer Willie Stargell. "Pops" played for the Pirates in every season from 1962 through 1982, 21 in all. Some day I'll take my (currently hypothetical) children to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and point to his plaque, and mention that he was still playing when I was a baby. I might even let them know that there were only 26 teams and 4 divisions. My kids will assume that I must be 100, math be damned. They've got some nerve.

Pinch hitter extraordinaire Manny Mota, immortalized two years earlier in Airplane!, appeared in one final game for Los Angeles at age 44. Yep, he was born in the 1930s. Also making a brief curtain call was Cuban legend Luis Tiant, who was (reportedly) "only" 41 and made a half-dozen rocky appearances for the Angels.

Besides Belanger, other former Orioles to bow out in 1982 included Grant Jackson, whose lefthandedness helped earn him an 18-year career; Lee May, whose 354 homers were second only to Stargell among that year's retirees; Ross Grimsley, whose comeback with the Orioles lasted 60 innings; and Don "Fullpack" Stanhouse, who also finished up back in Baltimore.

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