Friday, November 18, 2011
Vintage Fridays: Hoyt Wilhelm, 1959 Topps #349
1957: Dizzy Trout makes a brief comeback, pitching twice in relief for the O's at age 42, his first big league action since 1952.
1960: First baseman Bob "Rope" Boyd bats .317 in 88 trips to the plate at age 40. The club reacquires Dave Philley (also 40) in September and he bats .265/.342/.471 in 14 games.
1961: Philley bats 157 times in his age 41 season, struggling to the tune of .250/.293/.361.
1962: Knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm turns 40 on July 26. In his final season in Baltimore, he goes 7-10 and leads the club with a 1.94 ERA and 15 saves. Traded to the White Sox the following winter, he sticks around for another decade and sets a record with 1,070 games pitched.
1970: Reliever Dick Hall earns a win with three spotless innings on his 40th birthday, September 27. It runs his record to 10-5 for the year with 3 saves and a 3.08 ERA. He adds seven scoreless frames during the postseason, helping the Birds to their second World Series win in five years.
1971: Hall slips to 6-6 with a 4.98 ERA and retires at season's end.
1977: The end of an era. Brooks Robinson hits the big 4-0 in May and hangs up his spikes later that summer, capping 23 seasons in orange and black. In 52 at-bats he ekes out a line of /149/.212/.255. He does give the fans one final thrill with a pinch-hit, walkoff three-run homer on April 19.
1992: Mike Flanagan had a memorable 1991 season, returning to the O's as an effective reliever and finishing the last game at Memorial Stadium. Camden Yards didn't treat him as well. At age 40, Flanny allowed 31 earned runs in 34.2 innings for an 8.05 ERA. Rick Dempsey made a surprise curtain call at age 42, appearing in 7 games in June and July and one more in September when the team was short-handed behind the plate. He had a hit and a pair of walks in 11 plate appearances.
1996: In another homecoming, the Orioles reacquire 40-year-old Eddie Murray in a midsummer trade with the Indians. He hits 10 home runs, including the 500th of his career, to help the team capture the A.L. Wild Card. The Birds bow out in the ALCS despite a .333/.429/.467 postseason batting performance by Eddie.
1997: Ah, Jesse Orosco. The Jurassic lefty appeared in 71 games, going 6-3 with a 2.32 ERA that was his lowest since 1989. At 40, he was just getting warmed up.
1998: Orosco strolled in from the bullpen another 69 times, posting a 4-1 record, a 3.18 ERA, and 7 saves. Nothing to see here.
1999: At age 42, Orosco showed some signs of wear. In 65 games, he had a 5.34 ERA. Of course, he only totaled 32 innings (19 ER), so earned run average isn't the most telling stat. He also struck out 35 batters, a rate of 9.8 per 9 innings. He broke Hoyt Wilhelm's record for games pitched, and went on to obliterate that mark by continuing to take the mound through 2003, his age 46 season. His record now stands at 1,252 games. Designated hitter Harold Baines is an All-Star at age 40, hitting .322/.395/.583 with 24 HR and 81 RBI in 104 games for the O's before a late-season trade to Cleveland. He slumps with the Tribe, but still finishes with his best power numbers in 15 years.
2000: Back for a third tour of duty, the 41-year-old Baines hits .266/.349/.437 with 10 home runs in 72 games. At midseason, he's traded to the White Sox, and retires a year later with his original team. Cal Ripken, Jr. blows out 40 candles in August and finishes an injury-plagued season at .256/.310/.453 with 15 HR and 56 RBI in 83 games.
2001: A lost season for the Orioles (98 losses) becomes a farewell tour for Ripken, who slumps to .239/.276/.361 with 14 HR and 68 RBI. A late-season diversion arrives in the form of 42-year-old Tim Raines, who is acquired from the Expos in October to play alongside his son, an O's rookie. Tim Sr. goes 3-for-11 with a home run and 5 RBI.
2004: Rafael Palmeiro turns 40 on September 24, and goes 0-for-4. It is part of a subpar season for the mustachioed one, as he bats .258/.359/.436 with 23 HR and 88 RBI. Fellow prodigal Oriole B.J. Surhoff also turns 40 in 2004, and produces a season of .309/.365/.420 with 8 HR and 50 RBI while missing over a month due to injury.
2005: Raffy doesn't make it to his 41st birthday in Charm City. Something about a B-12 shot, mumble mumble. Before all of that goes down, he does collect his 3,000th career hit, and finishes his time in the majors at .266/.339/.447 with 18 HR and 60 RBI in 110 games. Surhoff wraps up his career in 2005 as well, with a tad less infamy. In another injury-truncated season, he has a line of .257/.282/.356. Sidearmer Steve Reed gives the Orioles a third 40-year-old, but also sees his long career run aground with a 6.61 ERA in 32.2 innings of relief.
2006: 40-year-old Jeff Conine has a nondescript time of it in Baltimore: .265/.325/.401 before a late August trade to the Phillies.
Unsurprisingly, the O's haven't suited up a quadragenarian in the past five seasons, as they make a more concerted youth effort. I wouldn't expect them to break that streak this year, as much fun as it is to imagine Jamie Moyer rejoining the Birds 16 years after they last parted ways.