Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lee May, 1977 Hostess #55

This will be my last new entry on the blog for a short while. But turn that frown upside down, Lee May! I'm taking a bit of a summer breather, and I'll be back and (maybe) better than ever by mid-August. It's my sincere hope that I will find the Orioles right where I left them...on top of the American League East. So long for now!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Brady Anderson, 1993 Topps Black Gold #24

Since I showed off the Mike Devereaux Black Gold card on Tuesday night, here's the other half of the team set. It looks like Brady Anderson's bat is coming right at you, doesn't it? Much like Devo, Brady had a career year in 1992...at least to that point in his career. Though he later reached new heights with an out-of-nowhere 50-homer season in 1996, the young outfielder from California established his big league bona fides in '92 with a .271/.373/.449 batting line and an OPS+ of 130. He scored 100 runs and notched 28 doubles, 10 triples, 21 home runs, 80 RBI, and 53 stolen bases. Brady had a lot to do with the Orioles improving from 67 wins in 1991 to 89 in 1992, and Topps gave him his due by including him in their insert set.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

L. J. Hoes, 2010 Topps Pro Debut #373

L. J. Hoes is not having much success in Houston this year, but he did have an enjoyable game last night. The 24-year-old outfielder, traded from the O's to the Astros last summer for Bud Norris, is batting .178/.235/.308 in 40 games in 2014. However, "Little Jerome" started in left field last night as the 'Stros visited Oakland. He went hitless in his first four trips to the plate, but delivered a solo home run off of Fernando Abad with one out in the 12th inning to account for the winning run in a 3-2 Houston victory. As luck would have it, yesterday was Hoes' mother's birthday. The outfielder spoke to his mom before the game, and revealed that Gale Hoes had told him to hit a homer for her. She clearly expected the best from her son, who hadn't gone deep since May 13, and that's just what she got. Such a good kid.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mike Devereaux, 1993 Topps Black Gold #28

For as fervently as I collected 1993 Topps in my youth, I never did get my hands on the two Orioles Black Gold inserts...until now. A hearty padded envelope arrived yesterday from Max, with a stack of 2014 Heritage set needs complemented by some assorted O's cards. Included were 1993 Black Gold cards of Brady Anderson and Mike Devereaux, thus filling my team needs from that particular 44-card insert set. I still think these cards, which were seeded one per every 72 wax packs, hold up well, which you can't say for most of their contemporaries. The design just pops. I remember how thrilled I was when I pulled a winner card that entitled me to the last 11 cards in the Black Gold set. Now that I've got Brady and Devo, I've rekindled some of that feeling. Gracias, Max!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eddie Murray, 1997 Fleer #9

It was 18 years ago today that Eddie Murray returned to the Orioles, as the Indians dealt the future Hall of Famer to Baltimore in exchange for lefty pitcher and free agent bust Kent Mercker. The 40-year-old Murray was reunited with Cal Ripken, Jr. and with the fans of Charm City, the latter of whom were thrilled to chant "ED-DIE! ED-DIE!" once again. In a storybook moment, Eddie went on to hit his 500th career home run at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 6, 1996 - exactly one year to the day that Cal Ripken played in his record 2,131st consecutive game. It was one of 10 homers that Murray hit in a 64-game stint with the O's, helping them capture the American League Wild Card with a 35-22 surge over the final two months of the regular season. Number 33 also had a big hand in the team's Division Series upset of the Indians, as he reached base nine times in 18 trips to the plate against the club that had dealt him away a few months earlier. Although Eddie's twilight encore in Baltimore ended with the heartbreak of a six-game ALCS defeat at the hands of the Yankees, he had a poetic farewell. In his final at-bat in an Orioles uniform, in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 5 at Camden Yards, he hit a home run off of O's nemesis Andy Pettitte, cutting the deficit to 6-2. It was too little, too late for the Birds, but that doesn't take away the reality that it happened.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jim Johnson, 2012 Topps Orioles Team Set #BALT13

Wow, the Orioles sure got out while the getting was good with Jim Johnson. Last night, the ex-Orioles closer faced his old teammates for the second time this season. For the second time, he allowed a home run that extended an O's lead, as Chris Davis led off the ninth inning in Oakland with a no-doubt blast to right field to push the Baltimore lead to 8-4. Johnson only saved two games for the A's before getting demoted from the closer role, and here in mid-July his earned run average sits at an unsightly 6.25. He's allowed 56 hits in 40.1 innings, with 23 walks, 28 strikeouts, and five homers. His WHIP is 1.96, and whenever he pitches at home (where he's got a 10.29 ERA and 2.79 WHIP in 16 games) the fans are ready to jeer him at the drop of a hat. All that, and he's making $10 million dollars for a cash-strapped team. I'm actually starting to feel bad for Dirty Jim, but I'm glad that he's not our problem.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Luke Scott, 2010 Topps National Chicle #156

This may shock you, but Luke Scott's mouth just got him in trouble again. The ex-Orioles outfielder found out that calling your coach a liar and a coward is frowned upon in South Korea, where he had been playing for SK Wyverns. I say "had been", because the team released him for being disrespectful. Luke had been placed on the disabled list with plantar fasciitis, and disagreed with the way the situation was being handled. Surely there are better ways to express that frustration, but that's Luke Scott for you. He wasn't lighting the league on fire even before the injury, batting .267 with six homers in 33 games. At age 36, it's hard to see Scott ever playing in the big leagues again at this rate.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Earl Robinson, 1962 Topps #272

Former Oriole Earl Robinson, who batted .271/.343/.433 in 162 games with the club in 1961-1962 and 1964, passed away this past July 4 at age 77. He had suffered two heart attacks last year. Earl starred in both baseball and basketball at the University of California-Berkeley, and earned a doctorate in education from the school. He was inducted into Cal's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Pacific-10 Conference's Hall of Honor in 2010. After his major league career ended, he became California's first junior college African-American head basketball coach when he was hired at Merritt College. He also held positions at various times as director of special projects for the Oakland Athletics, vice president of the Board of Trustees at the Oakland Zoo, and a member of the Board of Directors for the California Alumni Association. His is not a name that is often mentioned in relation to the Orioles, but Earl Robinson led a long and productive life beyond the diamond. May he rest in peace.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Koji Uehara, 2010 Topps 206 Bronze #205

Koji Uehara seems pretty nonplussed, considering that Earth's atmosphere is erupting in flames behind him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Steve Trachsel, 2007 Topps #558

This is your periodic off-day reminder that Steve Trachsel's unofficial nickname is "Old Turtle".

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Joe Altobelli, 1983 Topps Traded #3T

After all of those lean years when the Orioles were lucky to get their one obligatory All-Star selection (George Sherrill, Ty Wigginton, et. al.), I have no complaints about this year's Midsummer Classic. Not only are Nelson Cruz and Adam Jones starting tonight for the American League, but they're even batting back-to-back in the lineup. Matt Wieters will also be introduced with the rest of the stars, even though his recent elbow surgery precludes him from playing. But if I had any one hope for the 2015 All-Star Game, it would be for Buck Showalter to manage the A. L. team. After all, those are the spoils that go to the World Series clubs. The O's skipper hasn't called the shots in the mid-July showcase since Joe Altobelli represented the 1983 World Champions in 1984. Of course, that year the National League pulled out a 3-1 victory, but you can bet that wouldn't happen on Buck's watch.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Brady Anderson, 1997 Circa #352

The last time the Orioles were in first place in the American League East at the All-Star Break, it was 1997. Baseball cards looked like this (but not all of them, thank the gods), Brady Anderson was leading off for the A.L. All-Stars, and the (Devil) Rays and the Diamondbacks still hadn't made their debut. Back then, the O's had a seven-game cushion over the Yankees en route to a wire-to-wire division title. This year, they might only be up four on the Blue Jays and five on New York, but it's always better to be the team being chased. Now it's time to see if I can get through Adam Jones' swings at the Home Run Derby without muting Chris Berman and John Kruk. It's a long shot.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Luis Matos, 2005 Donruss Signature Series #21

Thunderstorms in the middle of a ballgame is as disappointing as a starting lineup featuring Luis Matos.

Rain, rain, go away. We want to beat the Yanks today.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Miguel Gonzalez, 2013 Topps Orioles Team Set #BAL-15

I always dread the worst when I have tickets to an Orioles-Yankees game. I'm still carrying the baggage of two decades' worth of blown leads, blown calls, weird breaks, and invading New York fans. But last night the O's provided me with a little relief.

My friend Donnie, a transplanted Yankee enthusiast, also attended last night's game, so we spent the first half of it avoiding the heat and the crowd and watching from the comfort of the Free State Pub out on the concourse. From that vantage point, we saw Brian Roberts touch up Miguel Gonzalez for a solo home run in his first at-bat as a visitor to Camden Yards. An inning later, Kelly Johnson also parked a Gonzalez offering onto the flag court, putting the Bronx Bombers up 2-0. Meanwhile, the Birds were having their usual bout of trouble with opposing starter Hiroki Kuroda. They rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth with the benefit of just one hit - an Adam Jones single that reached up and bit the aging Derek Jeter at shortstop. The Orioles were able to capitalize on a rare bout of wildness from Kuroda, who plunked both Steve Pearce and J.J. Hardy, and tossed a pair of wild pitches in the two-run frame.

Gonzalez, on the other hand, settled down nicely. After the Yankees put a couple of runners in scoring position with one out in the top of the fourth, the righthander retired 14 out of the last 15 batters he faced, marred only by a pitch that got a piece of Kelly Johnson. Of course, we can't gauge intent in such matters. Miguel saved his best for last, mowing down the heart of the New York batting order on five pitches in a flawless eighth inning. Unfortunately he wasn't rewarded with a win, as Kuroda and reliever Dellin Betances kept the O's bats at bay through nine innings. Zach Britton handled the top of the ninth without incident, and T. J. McFarland accepted the baton in the 10th, dispatching the Yankees on three ground balls.

Finally Manny Machado got something going with a leadoff double against new reliever Adam Warren in the bottom of the 10th. After Ryan Flaherty failed to get him in or even over, Plan D catcher Nick Hundley drove a single up the middle. Manny raced home ahead of the throw, and dozens of black jerseys streamed onto the field. 3-2 win, and now the Orioles are guaranteed sole possession of first place in the A.L. East at the All-Star break. I'll take it.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Barry Shetrone, 1960 Topps #348

Pop quiz: What do Barry Shetrone and Babe Ruth have in common?

Answer: They were both born in Baltimore, and played for the hometown Orioles. Of course, the Bambino played for the International League team, and Barry played for the American League club that we all know and love. Also, Barry finished his illustrious 60-game big league career 713 home runs shy of Ruth's one-time record. Details, details.

Barry Shetrone's rookie card is the flimsy pretense I'm using to talk about Babe Ruth on this, the 100th anniversary of the Sultan of Swat's major league debut. Two days earlier, the Red Sox had purchased the contracts of Ruth and pitcher Ernie Shore and catcher Ben Egan from the minor-league Baltimore Orioles for a sum of over $25,000. On Saturday, July 11, 1914, 19-year-old George Herman Ruth took the mound at Fenway Park to face the Cleveland Naps (known today as the Indians). He earned the win by limiting the visitors to three runs (two earned) on eight hits, while striking out a single batter and walking none. He was hitless in two trips to the plate, and was actually removed in favor of pinch hitter Duffy Lewis, who singled and took over in left field for Olaf Henriksen the next inning. Dutch Leonard earned the save by relieving Ruth and tossing two spotless innings, as Boston prevailed 4-3 in an hour and 33 minutes. The Babe appeared in only five games for the BoSox in 1914, four as a pitcher and one other as a pinch hitter. He became a more regular fixture in the following year, going 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA in 32 games on the bump (he also completed 16 of his 28 starts) and batting .315/.376/.576 in 103 plate appearance with the first four homers of his career. I wonder how many of the fans in attendance at Fenway on that Saturday afternoon in midsummer realized that they were witnessing history.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jake Arrieta, 2011 Topps Orioles Team Set #BAL11

Love? Love is when your wife packs your lunch the night before, and you open the bag the next afternoon and find a pack of Orioles cards stashed inside as a surprise. Now I have the 2011 Orioles team set, complete with Jake Arrieta's ill-fitting cap and terrible mustache. Just because.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Boog Powell, 1990 Pacific Legends #46

In their three-homer, six-run explosion in the 12th inning of Monday night's win at Washington, the Orioles initially took the lead on back-to-back home runs by Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy, a pair of down-on-their-luck power hitters who really needed that boost. (Thanks, Craig Stammen!) The last time a pair of Baltimore batters hit consecutive homers in extra innings, it was 45 years ago, and it was an even more prominent duo than Davis and Hardy.

The date was June 3, 1969, and the opponent was the Oakland Athletics. Just like this past Monday's contest, it was a low-scoring game through nine, as Mike Cuellar and Johnny "Blue Moon" Odom held the hitters to one run per side. A first-inning Boog Powell sac fly and a seventh-inning Reggie Jackson home run accounted for the score until the 11th inning. Lew Krausse relieved Odom, but relief might not be the most apt term in this situation. Frank Robinson led off the frame by taking Krausse deep to break the stalemate. Before ol' Lew knew what had hit him, Boog Powell had followed with another four-bagger to give the O's a 3-1 lead. Oakland skipper Hank Bauer, who had been fired by the Birds the previous year, yanked Krausse and called on rookie Rollie Fingers. After the next two batters were retired, Bobby Floyd and Mark Belanger hit back-to-back singles, but Earl Weaver allowed reliever Eddie Watt to bat for himself and he grounded out harmlessly to strand both men. No worries, as Watt returned to the mound and retired Jackson, Sal Bando, and Danny Cater in order to seal the win in a tidy two hours and 40 minutes...making that game an hour shorter than its 12-inning counterpart in 2014. Sheesh.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gregg Olson, 1993 Donruss #117

I hope you don't mind if I mention my 1993 Topps set blog here once in a while. After all, this blog still gets more eyeballs than that one, and a guy's got to sell himself, even when he's writing for free. I'm about 30 percent of the way through the base set, and I'm continually surprised and amused by the things that I'm learning about the players of my adolescence. Today's subject is Gregg Olson, somebody with whom I'd expect to have more familiarity than most other players from that time. But in a few minutes spent on Baseball Reference and a bit of Googling, I discovered the following things that I'd either forgotten or never knew in the first place:

-In his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1989, the Otter allowed one home run in 85 innings. One. Uno. That's nuts.

-After he tore elbow ligaments in August 1993 and the Orioles chose not to re-sign him, Olson pitched for eight other MLB teams through the 2001 season. He went from the Braves to the Indians to the Royals to the Tigers to the Astros to the Twins to the Royals again to the Diamondbacks to the Dodgers. I remember him with Atlanta, Arizona...maybe Detroit and/or Kansas City if I dig deep enough. There's so much baseball that has happened without my noticing.

-While playing for Buck Showalter's D-backs, Gregg notched his only hit in five career plate appearances...and it was a two-run homer, with Florida's Oscar Henriquez serving as the victim.

-In his post-pitching life, Olson has worked as a scout for the Padres.

See, you learn something (or things) new every day. If you're not already reading my 1993 Topps blog, you're cheating yourself. Or you've got better things to do with your time, and I can't begrudge you that.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Nolan Reimold, 2010 Upper Deck #76

So long, Nolan Reimold. I hope for your own sake that you're finally healthy and pain-free, but I hope you understand that I can't exactly wish you success as long as you're playing in the Great White North for the Orioles' closest pursuers. I'll still remember you fondly for games and moments like the May 27, 2009 11th-inning walkoff homer, or your 2-for-3 outing with a walk, a steal, a homer, and two RBI on September 16, 2011 (I mention this because I was there), or of course, your game-tying double and game-winning run on September 28, 2011 - the day the O's and Rays conspired to eliminate Boston from playoff contention. Thanks for those memories, Nolan.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Adam Jones, 2010 Topps Chrome #10

It has been a pretty good Sunday in Birdland, as a strong Kevin Gausman start and a clutch relief outing from Brad Brach (three scoreless innings, four strikeouts) were enough to negate the horrors of a five-run, four-pitcher disaster inning by the other members of the O's middle relief corps. David Lough's leadoff triple in the twelfth inning forced the Red Sox to draw in their infield, and J. J. Hardy chopped a grounder through the left side to finally bring home the winning run. The Orioles took two of three in Boston, padding their American League East lead to a full two games over Toronto and shunting the Sawx into a tie with Tampa Bay for last place. Very sweet.

Also sweet was the news that the Birds were the only AL team to have multiple starters chosen for the All-Star Team. Baltimore's Vote Orange campaign resulted in not one, not two, but three members of the home team getting their tickets punched to Minnesota. Of course, Matt Wieters can't play due to his elbow surgery, but it's nice to know that he'll be introduced during pregame festivities at Target Field. Nelson Cruz and his league-leading 27 homers lapped the field at designated hitter, which probably caused David Ortiz to take out his frustrations on another dugout phone. Adam Jones also made a late push in the balloting to capture the third outfield slot in the junior circuit, marking his second straight All-Star appearance via fan vote and his fourth Midsummer Classic selection overall. It's always nice to see some black and orange at the All-Star Game.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Melvin Mora, 2005 Bowman Heritage #165

You win some, you lose some, and the Orioles did both today in splitting a doubleheader with the Red Sox. But there are good feelings in Birdland tonight thanks to the 7-4 win in the nightcap, fueled by Nelson Cruz's 5-for-5 evening with two doubles, a home run, a stolen base, and a pair of RBI. Cruz had an outside shot at the cycle, but was thrown out trying for the triple in the top of the eighth inning. It was Baltimore's first five-hit game since J. J. Hardy pulled it off in 17 innings against Boston in 2012. Keep digging, and the team's last five-hit game in nine innings came from Nick Markakis a year earlier. If you want to get really wonky with it, the last five-hit game by an O's left fielder took place on May 25, 2003, back when Melvin Mora was still roaming the outfield. I'd say that the Birds have gotten a pretty good return on the $8 million they spent on Nelson this year.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Mike Cuellar, 1974 Topps #560

On July 4, 1971, Mike Cuellar won his tenth straight decision with a complete game victory over the Tigers, 3-2. Cuellar and Detroit starter Joe Coleman each went the distance, allowing six hits apiece. But Coleman allowed a two-run homer to Boog Powell in the first inning and a leadoff shot to Elrod Hendricks in the sixth to make the difference. Cuellar kept the Tigers off the board until the bottom of the sixth, when Aurelio Rodriguez doubled and Tony Taylor singled him home. A Bill Freehan solo homer with one out in the ninth gave Detroit a glimmer of hope, but Cuellar snuffed that out by retiring the next two batters to finish off the game. He'd also win his next start on July 8 to improve to 13-1 before his luck evened out and he posted a 7-8 record in the second half of the season. Nevertheless, Mike wound up at 20-9 with a 3.08 ERA for the year, as the Orioles rotation boasted four 20-game winners en route to the American League pennant.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jay Gibbons, 2005 Donruss Elite Turn of the Century #19

Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of a wild day in Major League Baseball. On July 2, 2002, there were a total of 62 home runs hit across the big leagues, a record that still stands today. A full dozen of those round-trippers were hit in the White Sox' 17-9 slugfest victory over the Tigers, with each team bashing six. Nine different players had two-homer games, which was also a record. That motley assortment of power hitters included Dmitri Young, Magglio Ordonez, Sandy Alomar Jr., Jay Gibbons (more on him in a moment), Raul Ibanez, Lance Berkman, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Damon Minor (brother of former O's third baseman and current Frederick Keys manager Ryan Minor), and Reggie Sanders. Reigning home run king Barry Bonds, who socked 73 dingers in 2001 and had 25 as of 7/2/02, did not go deep at all that fateful day. He settled for a 2-for-4 day with a walk, a double, a pair of RBI and two runs scored while teammates Shinjo, Minor, Sanders, and David Bell combined for seven four-baggers.

In this context, the Orioles' 3-0 win at Anaheim on that midseason Tuesday seems out of place. Gibbons' pair of solo homers were all of the offense that rookie starter Rodrigo Lopez needed, and they were nearly all of the offense that he got. (Geronimo Gil's double-play grounder in the seventh inning plated Marty Cordova with a bit of insurance.) Lopez pitched around five walks, four singles, and a hit batter in seven innings of work, as the Halos went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Buddy Groom, Willis Roberts, and Jorge Julio teamed up for two flawless innings of relief, with Julio locking down his 17th save of the year to boost Rodrigo's record to 7-3. For second-year sensation Jay Gibbons, his fourth-inning clout against loser Ramon Ortiz and his ninth-inning shot off of Scott Schoeneweis represented his first two-homer game in the majors. He would have three more multi-HR games by season's end, part of a career-best total of 28 home runs for the redhead.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Jeff Ballard, 1990 Donruss Baseball's Best #29

Something very rare and unusual happened last night, and I'm not talking about Ryan Flaherty reaching base twice in the same game. Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello shut out the Athletics on just 95 pitches, allowing four hits. What's more, he did it without any walks or strikeouts; every Oakland batter put the ball in play. The last time a big league pitcher did that, Porcello was not quite eight months old. Yours truly, who is not quite as young as these danged whippersnapper athletes these days, was seven years of age and for the most part blissfully unaware of the hometown Orioles and their underdog charge for the American League East crown. One of Baltimore's most valuable players in that 1989 "Why Not?" season was Jeff Ballard, a young lefty out of Stanford University whose pitch-to-contact approach gelled well with manager Frank Robinson's defensively-adept team. Ballard went 18-8 with a 3.43 ERA despite allowing 240 hits and striking out only 62 batters in 215.1 innings (2.6 K/9). But he limited his walks (57) and home runs allowed (16), and it all came together for that one charmed year.

Given this bit of background, it's not too surprising that the last no-walk, no-strikeout shutout before Porcello's gem last night was authored by Jeff Ballard on August 21, 1989. Facing the division rival Brewers on a Monday night at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, the southpaw scattered six Milwaukee singles, a Gus Polidor double, and even a pair of hit batters in a 5-0 win. Three of those nine Brewer runners were wiped out via solid defense: a double play turned by the Ripken brothers and first baseman Randy Milligan, a Ballard pickoff of Glenn Braggs at second base, and a Phil Bradley left fieldassist that cut down Robin Yount at second as well. On offense, Cal Ripken hit a three-run homer and Stanley Jefferson (a mostly-forgotten O's mini-legend) added a solo blast and a double. Ballard was not quite as efficient as Porcello, needing 112 pitches to seal the deal, but I'm sure the end result was just as sweet to him. Incidentally, it was Jeff's only shutout of the season, and the second and final whitewash of his career. He posted a 13-25 won-lost record in the ensuing years of his career, with a gruesome 5.29 ERA. But for one night, he had kept the Birds in first place when their division lead had been hanging by a half-game thread. Plus, his name gets pulled out of the mothballs when something anomalous happens like Tuesday's Porcello effort.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Harold Baines, 1994 Score Gold Rush #469

For absolutely no reason, here's a golden foily Harold Baines card. I spent my evening napping, taking my wife to dinner at Ale Mary's in Fells Point (where we saw the most enjoyable parts of Baltimore's 8-3 win over the Rangers), and finally planning out the rough itinerary for our upcoming trip to Ireland. It didn't leave much room for blogging, and I have no complaints about that.