Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Rafael Palmeiro, 1998 Skybox Dugout Axcess #145

This card is so horridly designed that you probably can't read that trivia question, so I will transcribe:

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is located two blocks from the birthplace of what baseball legend?
If you're reading this blog, I'm going to guess that you know the answer. If you don't, I won't spoil it for you.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Mike Mussina, 1994 Triple Play #157

On this date in 1997, Mike Mussina fell tantalizingly short of baseball history in an excellent start against the Indians. It was Friday, May 30, 1997, and Moose thrilled the hometown crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards by retiring the first 25 Cleveland batters in order. The O's built a 3-0 lead on single runs in the first, third, and sixth innings, with their runs scoring on RBI singles by Rafael Palmeiro and Brady Anderson as well as a fielder's choice grounder by Cal Ripken. But with one out in the ninth inning, Sandy Alomar Jr. spoiled Mussina's perfect game bid by lining a single to left field. Baltimore's ace rebounded nicely, striking out pinch hitter Brian Giles and leadoff man Marquis Grissom to end the game and preserve the one-hit shutout. In all, he whiffed 10 batters and improved his record to 7-1. The Orioles, meanwhile, boosted their team record to 35-15, increasing their American League East division lead over the second-place Yankees to a whopping 8.5 games. Moose never did toss a no-hitter in his career, but he had a pretty good run of it anyhow.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Willie Miranda, 1958 Topps #179

This week, my family said goodbye to my great uncle Bill, who passed away on May 20 at the age of 88. He was born in 1926, just like former Orioles Willy Miranda, Joe Ginsberg, Whitey Lockman, Ray Moore, and Robin Roberts, to name a few. He lived in Baltimore his entire life, spending much of that time in his home on Decker Avenue with Elrita his wife of nearly 70 years. (Incidentally, Elrita's maiden name was Ruth, and the family believes that she is related to the Bambino, though of course I don't have the specifics of it.) He was an active member of his community up until the last year of his long and happy life. Uncle Bill was a devoted parishoner of Our Lady of Pompei Catholic Church, where his funeral mass was held this past Tuesday. In January of 2014, he and his trademark wide smile were featured in a Baltimore Sun photo essay on the Patterson Bowling Center, where he participated in a senior league.

Bill, or "Albee" as he has been known since his youth, was famous within the family as the chief entertainer and gamesmaster for holidays and other gatherings. It was he who kept alive Highlandtown's Easter tradition of "egg picking" for so many years, until the Schenning branch of the family tree ran with it and spun it into a greater spectacle in the early 1990s. He would perform musical numbers and hold trivia contests, usually drafting the children into the merriment. It was only appropriate, because he was 100% in touch with his inner child. But Bill was most in his element each summer at the family reunion picnic, when he would invite all of the kids to take part in a variety of games, with all sorts of prizes at stake. Just so nobody would be left out of the fun, the adults were corraled into "horse races". Each person in the race grabbed a different-colored shirt and a post position and chose a horse name. The "horses" lined up in order, and the spectators bet a few dollars on their respective favorites. A couple of dice were rolled to determine which horse moved forward, and how many steps they were allowed to take. First one to cross the finish line won, and shared the money with the winning bettors. I'm proud to say that I took the prize last year in Uncle Bill's last horse race, wearing the red and going by the name Bunches of Oats.

As I've been reflecting on the life (and passing) of my grandmother Boots' big brother, two memories stand out in my mind. Nine years ago, when we learned that Boots had only a few hours left to live, the entire family gathered at the hospital to be with her. When everyone had arrived and the doctor took her off of oxygen, Uncle Bill led us all in singing the standard "Side by Side", originally written by Harry Woods in 1927 but popularized by Kay Starr. The second recollection is a bit more cheerful. When Janet and I got married in September of 2013, Bill and Elrita were in attendance. It meant a lot to me to have them there, being from my Gram's generation. After the ceremony, we stood for a receiving line so we could say a little something to all of our guests before getting caught up in the bustle of posing for formal photos. As Uncle Bill walked up, he gave me one of his big, beaming grins and said, "There's my buddy!". It's such a simple thing, but I'll carry it with me.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Mike Bordick, 2003 Topps Heritage #276

Instead of having an angel or a devil on his shoulder, Mike Bordick had a defensively competent - if offensively limited - shortstop whispering in his ear.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jim Gentile, 2004 Maryland Lottery #36

Chris Davis has had a rough go of things for the past 14 months or so, but today was a good day. He gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead with a fourth-inning two-run homer off of Astros starter Collin McHugh, immediately following a double steal by Adam Jones (second base) and Jimmy Paredes (home plate!). After some shaky infield defense by the O's contributed to a game-tying three-run rally by Houston in the seventh, Crush put Baltimore on top for good an inning later, blasting reliever Tony Sipp's first pitch of the game deep into the right field bleachers. That's 10 home runs in 2015 for Davis, and 124 in his O's tenure, spanning an even 500 games. As Press Box writer Paul Folkemer (@PaulWFolk) tweeted during today's game, Davis passed Lee May (123 HR) and caught Diamond Jim Gentile on the team's all-time homer leaderboard. Only 14 players have more round-trippers in an Orioles uniform. Now Chris will set his sights on Paul Blair, whose 126 four-baggers are well within reach.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Scott McGregor, 2009 Grandstand IronBirds #16

I just pulled out a team set of Aberdeen IronBirds cards from 2009. It's been six years, so even though Cal and Billy Ripken's team is in the short-season low-A New York-Penn League (too many hyphens!), I figured that one of these guys might have broken through for at least a cup of coffee in the big leagues by now. A shot of espresso, maybe? Uh, nope. So instead, enjoy this Scott McGregor card. Scotty has been coaching in the Orioles organization since 2002, including multiple stints at Aberdeen and even a short turn as the O's major league bullpen coach two years ago. So at least somebody from the '09 IronBirds made it to Baltimore.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sidney Ponson, 2000 Upper Deck MVP Silver Script #129

Do you know why I usually don't pick a card out of a box at random when I'm preparing to post on this blog? Because then I might find myself trying to find things to say about a Sidney Ponson parallel insert from 15 years ago. Here's what I've got: Sir Sidney actually has quite a lovely signature. I guess he's gotten plenty of practice while signing his name to plea agreements and other police and court documents.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dave Ford, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #140

With all of the commotion about Brian Matusz last night, the second superlative start of Mike Wright's young career may have gotten lost in the shuffle. The rookie from East Carolina University turned in seven more scoreless innings, limiting the Marlins to three hits and three walks (two intentional), while striking out four. He even delivered the Orioles' only hit with a runner in scoring position, singling through the infield, although he was denied the RBI (and possibly the win) when Marcell Ozuna threw out Travis Snider at the plate.

If you're keeping score, Wright has yet to allow a run in 14.1 innings over his first two starts in the big leagues. The last Baltimore pitcher to begin his career with so many goose eggs was righty Dave Ford in 1978. Ford tossed 15 shutout innings that September, then allowed a first-inning run to the expansion Mariners in his first start of 1979. Elbow and shoulder pain wound up limiting the Cleveland native to five wins, eight starts, and 51 total games pitched in his career. The rest of Mike Wright's story has yet to be written, though.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Brian Matusz, 2011 Topps Allen and Ginter Mini #317

Apparently Brian Matusz is such a freaking sad sack that he can't even cheat successfully. The oft-snakebitten O's lefty was ejected in the 12th inning of a scoreless game between the Orioles and Marlins tonight after the umps determined that he had an illegal substance on his right arm. Buck Showalter was forced to bring in T. J. McFarland, who allowed a walkoff single to Martin Prado with the bases loaded and two outs an inning later, as the Birds wasted another gem of a start by Mike Wright and an impressive debut in relief by Navy's Oliver Drake (three scoreless innings with a putout at home plate of Adeiny Hechavarria as he tried to score on a pitch that bounced).

Incidentally, I'm sorry for my unannounced absence this week. Wednesday Janet and I flew down to Sarasota for her brother's wedding, and I was so busy prepping for the trip that I didn't get a chance to post on Tuesday. I'll just say that our stay in Florida was much more enjoyable than tonight's 13-inning shutout loss.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Adam Jones, 2011 Topps Heritage #145

Yesterday represented an impressive collision between two of my favorite pastimes. I attended yesterday's Orioles game with my wife and my sister, since they were interested in the wristlet giveaway. With the freebies, the O's Dugout Club promotion for kids, and probably a handful of time-travelers from the future who wanted to see starting pitcher Mike Wright dominate the Angels in his big league debut, there was an impressive crowd of 41,733 packing Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Consequently, by the time I parked in one of the auxiliary lots and made it through the gates, Wright was taking his warmup pitches to the tune of 1990s WWF star Razor Ramon's entrance theme. I thought that was just excellent taste on the rookie's part, but it just so happens that the Birds were celebrating the presence of World Wrestling Entertainment in Charm City for last night's Payback pay-per-view. Unfortunately, I missed WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Adam Jones. But I was still greatly entertained by the wrestling theme playlist that the Orioles put together for their at-bats and pitching warmups. The rest of their choices:

-Manny Machado - the Rock
-Jimmy Paredes - Rey Mysterio
-Adam Jones - Real American (Hulk Hogan), John Cena
-Delmon Young - Sexual Chocolate (Mark Henry)
-Chris Davis - Big Show
-Steve Pearce - Mick Foley
-J. J. Hardy - Kurt Angle
-Travis Snider - Chris Jericho
-Caleb Joseph - I couldn't figure his out. They only played it for one of his three AB's
-Brad Brach - Brock Lesnar (genius!)
-Zach Britton - Tazz

Just as I was wondering why nobody went with Stone Cold Steve Austin's iconic theme, Britton sealed the win by striking out Johnny Giavotella, and the shattering glass of Austin's theme came blaring through the PA system. Well played, O's.

With the rest of his Sunday free and a day off today, Jones showed up in the first row at the Royal Farms Arena for WWE Payback last night, complete with a replica of the World Heavyweight Title slung over his shoulder. The New Day stable (Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods) earned the ire of the crowd by acknowledging Adam and quickly pointing out that the Birds are in the midst of a 32-year World Series drought. Jerry Lawler claimed that J. J. Hardy and Steve Pearce were at the show with Jones, but I don't think they were the guys sitting next to him on camera.

So yeah, this was all extremely relevant to my interests...your mileage, as always, may vary.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mike Devereaux, 1993 Upper Deck #167

I need a distraction, since the Orioles are now four games under .500 and their bats are missing in action. So I've turned to the excellent 1993 Upper Deck set to see if I can pinpoint the date that this photo was taken. Go figure - it's an Orioles-Angels game, though it's in Anaheim, unlike the current weekend series in Baltimore. Lance Parrish is catching, Mike Devereaux is batting, and there's a Caucasian runner edging off of third base. With Parrish behind the plate, we've narrowed it down to either June 1, 1992 or June 3, 1992. Devo batted with Billy Ripken on third base in both of those games, but only the Wednesday, June 3 game was played in the afternoon hours. So that is our game, and unfortunately the Birds suffered a walkoff 4-3 loss in 10 innings. However, there was a positive outcome from this particular at-bat in the top of the seventh inning. Mike greeted reliever Mark Eichhorn with a single, scoring Ripken and giving the O's a short-lived 3-1 lead. Bob Milacki served up a tying two-run homer to Gary DiSarcina in the bottom of the inning, and it stayed tied until Rene Gonzales scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Lee Stevens in the bottom of the tenth. So it goes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Kiko Garcia, 1978 Topps #287

Here's a fun, meaningless tidbit that dawned on me last night: both Chico Garcia and Kiko Garcia played for the Orioles. Vinicio "Chico" Garcia was a star player and manager in his native Mexico, but his only big league experience came with the O's in 1954. The 29-year-old played sparingly at second base for Baltimore, batting .113 (7-for-62) with eight walks, two triples, and five RBI in 39 games. You might be more familiar with Alfonso "Kiko" Garcia, the California-born shortstop who plied his trade in Charm City from 1976 through 1980, batting .232/.278/.317 with nine homers and 78 RBI. His claim to fame was his performance in the 1979 World Series, when he collected eight hits in 20 at-bats for an even .400 average against the Pirates. He drove in six Oriole runs and scored four others, accounting for a sizable chunk of the team's total output of 26 runs.

In a nutshell, that's the story of Chico and Kiko.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Harvey Haddix, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #172

If Harvey Haddix didn't have the most leathery face of any player in Orioles history, I can't imagine who has him beat. He looks like somebody left Don Knotts out in the sun.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sidney Ponson, 2005 Donruss #114

Last night was one of the dog-ugliest Oriole games I've ever had the misfortune of seeing in person, which is saying a lot. I've lived through the days of Sidney Ponson, Daniel Cabrera, Radhames Liz, and the rest. But rarely have I seen the O's carry a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning, only to lose 10-2. Back-to-back four-run innings will do that. Overall, the home team had as many miscues as hits (five of each). Three errors, a passed ball, and a wild pitch. Oh, and two hit batters. Thankfully, neither of them was Jose Bautista, so there weren't any fisticuffs or shouted profanities. I'll say one thing: traffic leaving the stadium was incredibly light, so I guess I'll thank the Birds for getting me home by bedtime.

The merciful thing about baseball is that you get 162 chances to play each season. Tonight's game is looking more like the Orioles I expect to see, as they're up 6-1 on Toronto with three outs left to get. Two out of three ain't bad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cal Ripken Jr., 1996 Upper Deck #1

As this card shows, rendering foil cards is still a complete crapshoot for my trusty old scanner. Was, is, and ever shall be. Sure, the scratches show up loud and clear, but all of Cal Ripken's adoring teammates are a murky black and silver. I will decode them for you, from left to right: Arthur Rhodes, Doug Jones (holding camcorder, face obscured by Cal's right arm), Rafael Palmeiro, and Jeffrey Hammonds. Considering the scores of 2,131-centric Ripken cards that were produced in 1995 and 1996, these guys got a lot of cameo face-time on the Iron Man's cards. I wonder if they appreciated the additional exposure.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Brooks Robinson, 2009 Topps Legends of the Game #LG-BR

Tonight the Orioles returned to Camden Yards for the first time since playing in an empty stadium on a Wednesday afternoon two weeks ago. They wore special white home jerseys with "Baltimore" emblazoned across the front in orange script. P. A. announcer Ryan Wagner announced each player on the home team as batting or pitching for "Baltimore", instead of for "the Orioles". There were 20,468 fans in attendance, more than you might expect for a Monday night in mid-May against the Blue Jays. The O's won in satisfying fashion, 5-2, thanks to their usual power display - Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Adam Jones each hit a home run - and another encouraging outing from Ubaldo Jimenez, who whiffed nine Toronto batters in seven innings.

I'm not so naive as to think that one baseball game, or a dozen, or 81, can heal the ills and iniquity in this city. But I'm grateful for the images and sounds that came from Oriole Park this evening.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Jay Gibbons, 2004 Fleer Patchworks #14

Although I'm typing this entry at 12:13 AM on Sunday, May 10, I'm going to consider this as Saturday's post. You can thank my clever wife Janet, who pointed out that I haven't gone to bed yet; by that logic, it still counts.

Anyhow, the Orioles have finally logged their first win in New York in 2015, and it was a good one: 6-2 over the Yankees, with seven strong innings from Wei-Yin Chen and a trio of O's home runs. Jimmy Paredes, lovingly called "Babe Ruth" by his teammates, hit his fifth homer in his 17th game of the season, and now has 15 RBI in his bid to be Dan Duquette's latest scrap-heap find. Alejandro de Aza hit a two-run shot, and hopefully can shake his recent slump. Chris Davis had one of his few successful at-bats this season against the Yankees, blasting his seventh home run of the year and the 121st in his time with Baltimore. That ties him with Jay Gibbons for 17th on the team's historical leader board, though it took Crush only 1,999 plate appearances to do it. Gibbons needed 2,982 trips to the plate to hit his 121 round-trippers with the Orioles. Incidentally, Jay's last home run with the Birds was a go-ahead three-run homer against a 21-year-old Felix Hernandez on July 17, 2007 in an 8-3 Baltimore win, so there's a feather in the cap.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Mark Corey, John Flinn, and Sammy Stewart, 1979 Topps #701

Why did Topps go with the mug shot approach to their prospects cards in 1979? It doesn't do anybody any favors, especially when you're rocking that seedy Mark Corey mustache. As I mentioned several years back, Mark Corey got shunted onto these "prospects" cards for three years running, and never had a Topps card all to himself. The same goes for John Flinn, whose only other appearance in a Topps set came in 1981, when he was given lip service as a Brewers "Future Star", along with Ed Romero and future manager Ned Yost. Flinn was Baltimore's second-round pick in January 1973, a righthander who debuted in 1978 but pitched only 69 innings as a reliever for the O's and Brewers in 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1982. He had a 5-2 record, two saves, and a 4.17 ERA. His most lasting contribution to Birdland? The Orioles traded him to the Brewers after the 1979 season in exchange for utility infielder Lenny Sakata.

As for Sammy Stewart, he made good on his promise, but ran into trouble after his career ended. Now he's back on his feet, thankfully.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

J. J. Hardy, 2014 Topps Chrome #145

The Orioles are still having a crummy week in New York, but at least J. J. Hardy is back! It's unfortunate for Everth Cabrera that he had to replace Hardy on the disabled list with a foot injury, but the former Padre was a poor substitute at shortstop for James Jerry. It's generally a good thing to have a shortstop with defensive range, a strong arm, and the ability to hit for power...or to hit at all. Don't leave us again any time soon, J. J.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Manny Alexander, 1996 Upper Deck #11

Ugh, the Mets. The Orioles just got swept in one of those dopey two-game interleague series in Citi Field, as they couldn't muster much offense against 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom and 2015 competitive eating champion Bartolo Colon. That's eight straight losses for the O's against the Mets, dating back to 2009. How long has it been since the Birds beat the guys from Flushing? Back then, the Orioles had ten different guys who made at least eight starts. Rich Hill, Koji Uehara, Mark Hendrickson, and Adam Eaton were in that pile of arms. (Remember: it could ALWAYS be worse, and it has been.)

What I don't understand is why the Mets keep picking on Baltimore. Through the years, the O's have been very kind to them. We traded them Jorge Julio, John Maine, Mike DeJean, John Bale, Mike Bordick (age 35), Armando Benitez, Manny Alexander, Damon Buford, Alex Ochoa, David Segui, AND Marv Throneberry...

Oh. Suddenly it makes sense. But hey, John Maine was pretty solid in 2007, wasn't he?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sammy Sosa, 2005 Leaf Legends #77

Odd, but true: Sammy Sosa had a pair of two-homer games during his forgettable 102-game tenure as an Oriole in 2005. Considering that he only went deep 14 times in 424 trips to the plate with Baltimore, I wouldn't have expected him to have enjoyed more than one multi-homer contest. (There was an April 24 7-1 win over the Jays, and a June 12 10-6 loss to the Reds.) But such an effort puts him in league with the likes of current Oriole utilityman Ryan Flaherty, whose 10 home runs in 85 games in 2013 also included two two-fer games. Now you know at least one thing that Sammy and "Flash" have in common.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Delino DeShields, 2000 Fleer Focus #12

I noticed the other day that Delino DeShields' son (also named Delino) is playing with the Rangers. Texas drafted him as a Rule 5 selection from the Astros over the winter, and kept him on the big league roster for Opening Day rather than risk losing him back to Houston. Delino had an infield single in his first career plate appearance on April 8. He's struggled since then, going 2-for-15 with a walk and a double overall for a batting line of .133/.188/.200. Of course, like most Rule 5 picks, he has played sparingly, starting only three games in left field and earning most of his playing time as a late-inning defensive replacement or pinch runner. But the younger DeShields is only 22, so he's got some time to figure it all out.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Steve Barber, 1963 Topps #12

On May 1, 1966, Steve Barber and Dick Hall combined to scatter eight hits while holding the Detroit Tigers to a single run in a 4-1 Orioles victory at Tiger Stadium. Boog Powell's fourth-inning two-run homer provided all the offense the O's would need, and Brooks Robinson added some insurance an inning later with a two-run single. Hall earned a save the hard way by inheriting a two-on, one-out situation in the eighth inning and stranding both runners, then finishing the game off in the ninth. It was the 10th straight win and 12th in the first 13 games of the still-new season for the Birds, who were en route to their first American League pennant and their first World Series triumph.

May 1 is also an important day to me personally. Two years ago today, I proposed to Janet, and she was foolhardy enough to say yes. We're celebrating tonight as we did way back in 2013, with a backyard bonfire, ice cream cake, and a bottle of Dogfish Head Positive Contact ale. So this is where I'll leave you.