Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Friday, April 1, 2011

Vintage Fridays: Jim Palmer, 1974 Topps #40

A few days ago the Commish (Bob) asked if the Orioles had ever opened the season on a Friday. It certainly didn't seem like the usual practice to me, so I decided to do a little digging. It turns out that they've played six Opening Day games on Fridays, but none in my lifetime:

April 6, 1973: The Orioles beat the Brewers 10-0 in Baltimore. Dave McNally three-hit the Brew Crew while striking out only one! Don Baylor (4-4, 3 RBI) fell a single short of the cycle and Brooks Robinson homered twice and drove in four.

April 5, 1974: The O's topped the Tigers 3-2 in Baltimore. Jim Palmer pitched around 11 base runners and Grant Jackson struck out Jim Northrup with the bases loaded to earn the save. Baylor was the hero again, driving in the winning run in the top of the ninth with a single off of Mickey Lolich.

April 9, 1976: In a matchup of Hall of Fame pitchers, Palmer and the Birds squeaked past Fergie Jenkins and the Red Sox 1-0 in Memorial Stadium. A Bobby Grich single and a Fred Lynn throwing error allowed the only run to score. Dyar Miller retired Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski, and Carlton Fisk in order in the ninth inning to record an impressive save.

April 7, 1978: The Orioles proved fallible in Friday openers, as they traveled to Milwaukee and got pounded 11-3. Mike Flanagan and Tim Stoddard were both hit hard, and errors by Lee May and Mark Belanger led to runs. It took a three-run gasp by the O's bats in the ninth to avoid a shutout. Eddie Murray homered.

April 6, 1979: What do you know? Palmer wins again, 5-3 over the visiting White Sox. This time he went the distance, with a two-run single by Rich Dauer lending a helping hand. The Birds clawed for their runs, as a Ken Singleton double provided the only extra-base hit.

April 10, 1981: Orioles 5, Royals 3. Reigning Cy Young Steve Stone picks up the W in what would be his final season, but allows eight hits (including two home runs) and two walks and has to be pulled after five innings. Sammy Stewart does the heavy lifting, tossing four innings of shutout relief for the save. Singleton and Rick Dempsey contribute solo home runs, and the host O's take the lead for good on consecutive bases-loaded walks by Murray and Doug DeCinces in the fifth inning.

So there you have it. The Birds are 5-1 in Friday openers, though they did lose their only previous Friday opener on the road. Jim Palmer notched three of his team-record five Opening Day wins in these situations. If you're worried about an April 1 game being a bad omen, I can tell you that the O's have had two games that counted on that date and both were blowout wins: 10-1 over the Royals in 1998 and 10-3 over the Yankees in the 2002 opener. Of course, the team finished both of those seasons with losing records, so the outlook is hazy for 2011. What say we just win tonight and worry about the meaning of it all later?


Commishbob said...

Thanks for doing the legwork, Kevin. I sure didn't recall that any of those were Fridays.

I really like that '74 Palmer, too. The '74 set is one I like for no logical reason other than my soft spot for team color coordinated cards.

Oh, your not being born when those opening days occurred makes me feel really old. It means I'm wearing and O's tee that's older than you are. :-\

Kevin said...

Bob - You're welcome! I found a bunch of 1974 Topps for cheap at a card show last month. They're starting to grow on me; I love all of the action shots, something they were just starting to get a handle on.

Hey, you should be encouraged that people who weren't around for the glory years still think it worthwhile to be Oriole fans!