Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Bobby Grich, 2015 Orioles Postcards

Tonight's Orioles game was yet another pile of uninspired garbage, as the team lost for the 11th time in 12 tries, thanks to more shaky starting pitching and unopportunistic hitting. But hey, at least I met Bobby Grich before the game!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jake Arrieta, 2013 Topps #134

Congratulations to Jake Arrieta for tossing his first career no-hitter tonight against the Dodgers. A dozen strikeouts (including the last three batters of the game), one walk, one Starlin Castro error. He threw 116 pitches, including 80 strikes, and improves to an MLB-best 17-6 with a 2.11 ERA. I'm not bitter about this at all. Not even a little. I'm certainly not wondering whether his remarkable successes in Chicago are a damning indictment of the Baltimore organization's player development.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Tommy Davis, 1974 Topps #396

Sometimes baseball is fun, like a miscut 1974 Topps card featuring Tommy Davis swinging from the heels, showing off his sharp sideburns and his high, striped orange-and-black-and-white stirrups for the home crowd on a sunny afternoon in Baltimore. But then again, there are times like August 2015, when most Orioles fans are enjoying baseball about as much as a drab gray 1989 Fleer Terry Kennedy card. But I'm engaging in a bit of therapeutic activity tonight in the aftermath of the Birds' ninth loss in 11 games. Vin Scully has just announced that he will be returning to the Dodgers' broadcast booth for a 67th season in 2016 ("God willing," he says), so I'm watching Los Angeles host the Cubs on MLB Network with one of sport's greatest treasures calling the action. Even when it's awful, baseball can be better than most things.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mike Trombley, 2000 Fleer Tradition #117

On the heels of last weekend's four-game sweep at the hands of the Twins, I was going to mention that I had suddenly grown to dislike Minnesota's team. But really, that's not a new development. I've long harbored a sense of resentment for the way the Twinkies seemed to roll over and play dead every single time they faced the Yankees in the postseason. Seriously, they lost four Division Series to New York in an eight-year span. How is that even possible? The Orioles also imported their share of free-agent duds from the Twins back in the deep, dark 2000s. There's Mike Trombley, with his seven blown saves and three additional losses in Y2K. How about Marty Cordova, with his tanning bed injury? I'm also willing to include 2003's Rule 5 draft flop, infielder Jose Morban. The Birds kept him on the roster all year, just so he could cough up a .141/.187/.225 batting line (9 OPS+) in 77 plate appearances, never to be heard from again. So thanks for nothing, Twins. It's going to take more than one J. J. Hardy trade heist for us to be even.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Boog Powell, 1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes #195

On this date in 1966, the Orioles wrenched victory from the jaws of defeat with some timely pinch hitting. It was a run-of-the-mill Friday game pitting the first-place Orioles against the tenth-place Red Sox, and only 13,657 fans turned out to Memorial Stadium to witness it. They didn't have much to cheer about through eight and a half innings, as Boston pitcher Lee Stange had scattered six singles and a pair of walks while striking out only one batter. John Miller was even better for the O's, yielding just three singles and two walks and striking out seven. But the Sox bunched their runners together and scraped together single runs in the eighth and ninth innings, positioning Miller for a hard-luck loss.

With catcher Larry Haney and reliever Eddie Fisher due up against Stange in the last half of the ninth, manager Hank Bauer called upon his reserves. First he sent another catcher, Vic Roznovsky, up to bat for Haney. The result was a pinch-hit home run, spoiling the shutout. Bauer's next move was a true no-brainer. Curt Blefary had started the game for the Birds at first base, leaving Boog Powell free to bat in the pitcher's spot representing the tying run. Next thing you know, BOOM, the ball was gone, the game was tied, and Stange had been pulled. It was only the third time in major league history that two pinch hitters had slugged back-to-back home runs. The Orioles loaded the bases against reliever Don McMahon with one out, but Russ Snyder was forced at home on a Blefary grounder and Bob Johnson popped out to send it to extra innings.

Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, the O's were victorious against Boston relievers Dan Osinski and Jose Santiago. Paul Blair led off with a single, Roznovsky (who had stayed in to catch) bunted him to second, Boog was intentionally walked, and Luis Aparicio earned a free pass to load the bases. Santiago was summoned from the bullpen and promptly gave up the walkoff single to Snyder. Baltimore won 3-2 and extended their considerable lead over the second-place Tigers to 12.5 games. And so few were there to see it all happen!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Scott Erickson, 1997 Collector's Choice #37

Sometimes I feel that Scott Erickson and Will Ferrell's Anchorman character Ron Burgundy are kindred spirits. Any of the following Burgundy quotes could easily be a caption for the picture on this card:

"Hey, everyone! Come see how good I look!"

"It's a formidable scent...it stings the nostrils. In a good way."

"I'm in a glass case of emotion!"

"You know I don't speak Spanish."

"I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany."

"I'm a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That's what kind of man I am."

"I'm storming your castle on my steed, m'lady!"

Let's watch Anchorman instead of the Orioles. Whaddaya say?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Paul Kilgus, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #499

I had an unexpected Paul Kilgus sighting today, though I suppose any Paul Kilgus sighting would be unexpected. The Bowling Green, Kentucky native is coaching for his hometown team in the Little League World Series. Earlier this afternoon, the kids from Kentucky eked out a 4-3 win over Taylors, South Carolina in an elimination game. Just moments after I tuned into the game, Kilgus had to bail out of the first base coaches' box to evade a screaming line drive from one of his young players. If nothing else, he's still got excellent reflexes.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Melvin Mora, 2003 Upper Deck Vintage #132

The expression on Melvin Mora's face says what I'm thinking tonight: baseball is dumb and we're dumb for liking it. How is it possible to score three runs or less in six straight games against the Twins?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Paul Richards, 1960 Topps #224

The Orioles' fortunes are looking as rough as this deeply creased Paul Richards card. A team with playoff aspirations shouldn't lose two straight home games against a reeling Twins team. Last night, the O's were listless in a rain-delayed 15-2 beatdown. Tonight, they mustered five hits against marshmallow-tossing lefty Tom Milone, but still held a 3-1 lead going into the eighth with Darren O'Day taking the mound. A walk, a hit batter, two bloop hits, and an infield single made that lead disappear faster than you could say "what the hell is going on?". The 2015 Orioles have let so many winnable games slip away from them, and that's incredibly frustrating when a possible postseason berth is so readily available for the taking. It's all the more so because of the team's uncertain future, with key players like Wei-Yin Chen, Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, and Darren O'Day primed for free agency. There's no telling when the Birds may have another chance like this.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dan Ford, 1982 Topps Traded #35T

Hey, it's Disco Danny! I already had this card, but I just picked up another copy when I bought a 1982 Topps Traded set from a local hobby shop for ten bucks. Before you go thinking that I got the steal of the century, I will clarify that the set does not contain card #98T - you know, that Ripken guy. This omission was clearly stated on the price tag sticker, so there's no need to go to the Better Business Bureau. I'm just thrilled to have a (near) complete master set of Topps from the year of my birth, and the 1982 Traded set features terrible airbrushed caps aplenty and a few Hall of Famers tossed in for good measure: Reggie Jackson, Fergie Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, and Ozzie Smith to be precise. Oh, and Cal, who I'm now obligated to track down for the sake of a completed set. Fortunately, a cursory check of a few online hobby dealers suggests that Junior's first-year card can be gotten in the neighborhood of $100. That's one-third of the price that it fetched the last time I truly paid attention to such things. So it's certainly an easier "get" than Brooks Robinson's 1957 Topps rookie card.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Henry Urrutia, 2013 Topps Update Series #US329

Henry Urrutia won the game for the Orioles tonight with an opposite-field home run to lead off the ninth inning, becoming the first Baltimore player to hit a walkoff shot for his first career homer since Chris Hoiles did the deed on June 27, 1990. I had the good fortune to be there in person; the O's have hit six game-ending home runs this year (three on this homestand so far), and I've been at Camden Yards for four of them. I must be living right.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Larry Sheets, 1988 Topps UK #70

Thanks to Topps, the British know the legend of Larry Sheets. Of course, they're wondering why his bat is so thin and cylindrical.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bob Melvin, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #296

Sure, Bob Melvin is all smiles and innocent doe eyes in this headshot from his playing days, but he wasn't so placid tonight. The current Oakland manager was ejected from the Orioles' 4-2 victory over the A's following an argument with home plate umpire Brian Knight in the middle of the sixth inning. Knight had called outfielder Sam Fuld out for batter's interference after he ran too far inside of the first base line while beating out a bunt, and subsequently tossed Fuld out of the game for protesting too much. You certainly can't blame Melvin for losing his cool, since Oakland was just swept in a four-game series in Baltimore for the first time ever and has lost seven in a row overall. As an O's fan, it's just good to see the team take care of business against a struggling team before the schedule really gets tough.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Adam Jones, 2014 Topps Heritage #78

After back-to-back walkoff wins, the Orioles decided to do things the easy way today. Remember how they went hitless in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon? How about my Thursday blog post, where I tried to put a positive spin on things by reminiscing about Baltimore's team-record 26-hit outburst in 1980? Well, today the Birds did some clubberin' against Athletics pitching, spraying a record-tying 26 hits all over Camden Yards in an 18-2 laugher. Gerardo Parra collected five hits in the first six innings, including his second homer in as many days. Designated hitter and Charm City native Steve Clevenger had his first career four-hit game. There were three hits apiece by Manny Machado, Adam Jones (who had a two-homer day, giving him 22 in 2015), Jonathan Schoop, and Caleb Joseph (who had the fourth and final O's home run). Things got really out of hand in the fifth inning, when the Birds batted 13 times and collected 10 hits and nine runs. In the late innings, Buck Showalter gave many of his starters a breather, and even forfeited his DH by subbing Clevenger in for Chris Davis at first base. That led to a surreal scene in the bottom of the eighth, as erstwhile Oakland first baseman Ike Davis pitched to rookie O's reliever Jason Garcia, batting for the first (and possibly last) time in his career. Naturally, Garcia walked on four pitches, thanks to Showalter's insistence that he not actually swing the bat. With the victory, the O's briefly moved into a tie with the Angels for the second wild card spot. As I type this post, the Halos are tied with the Royals in the tenth inning. Just for tonight, I guess I'll root for KC.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mike Mussina, 1993 Score #27

Tonight, with Mike Mussina (and yours truly) in attendance, the Orioles came from behind and pulled out a thrilling walkoff win for the second straight game against Oakland. Tonight's hero was Chris Davis, who blasted a solo shot to right-center field off of ambidextrous A's reliever Pat Venditte with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to break a 3-3 tie. It was his second home run of the night, his sixth in the last six games, his 15th since the All-Star Break, and his 34th of the season. Did I miss any home run factoids? Oh yeah, it was also his 87th career homer at Camden Yards, so he surpassed Cal Ripken for sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list. Gerardo Parra chipped in with a game-tying solo home run in the sixth inning, his second as an Oriole. It's also worth recognizing the effort of starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez, who hung in there for a seven-inning quality start after coughing up three runs in the first three innings. Thankfully, the Birds wrapped things up a bit sooner than they did on Friday night, when it took 13 innings before Manny Machado broke the stalemate with a two-run walkoff homer. With back-to-back feats of Orioles Magic, the resilient O's have closed to within a half game of the Angels for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers, Twins, and Rays are all lurking close behind as well, so the next six weeks should be nerve-wracking.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Boog Powell, 1971 Topps #195

1971 Topps. Boog Powell getting some love from Frank Robinson. An umpire in a necktie. A recap of the Orioles' ALCS trouncing of the Twins, in this case a 10-6 win in the 1970 playoff opener. Boog's homer was the third and final four-bagger in a seven-run outburst in the top of the fourth inning, following back-to-back blasts by Mike Cuellar (a grand slam!) and Don Buford. The opposing pitcher for Powell's home run was Bill Zepp, whom I had never heard of before this moment. This card has pretty much everything that I'm looking for as a collector.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rich Dauer, 1981 Topps #314

O's fans, how can we distract ourselves on an off-day after being no-hit? Well, I'm sure it would help if I stopped bringing it up, but it's too late for that. I did a bit of Googling and learned that the Orioles' record for most hits in a game was set on August 28, 1980. On a Thursday evening in Memorial Stadium, the Birds outslugged the Angels 13-8 as the two teams combined for 40 hits: 26 for Baltimore and 14 for California. Eight of the 11 O's to bat had multi-hit games, and only John Lowenstein (0-for-3 after replacing Ken Singleton in the fifth inning) had an oh-fer. Rich Dauer and Gary Roenicke each had a team-high four hits, with Roenicke rapping three doubles. If you're wondering why the Orioles didn't score even more runs than their baker's dozen, they did fail to hit a single home run and were victimized by a pair of double plays. Still, their six-run, nine-hit fifth inning was instrumental in helping the O's endure an uncharacteristically rocky outing by winning pitcher Jim Palmer, who allowed six runs on 11 hits, two walks, and a hit batter in six and a third innings. Sammy Stewart got the last eight outs, but also gave up another two runs.

Look, I'm not greedy. I'll settle for, say, 10 runs and 15 hits tomorrow. What do you say, guys?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jerry Hairston Jr., 2004 Donruss Team Heroes #44

On April 4, 2001, the Orioles were no-hit by Hideo Nomo in the second game of their season, a harbinger of things to come in the lackluster farewell year of Cal Ripken and Brady Anderson. It was the second no-hitter of Nomo's career, as he struck out 11 (including Jerry Hairston three times) and walked three.

Today, the O's turned in the ultimate getaway day performance, ending their nine-game West Coast swing with a resounding thud. Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma held the Birds hitless, joining Nomo as the second Japanese pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter in MLB. I'll never be mistaken for the world's most optimistic Orioles fan to begin with, but I'm sure you won't blame me if I say that I'm making other plans for October.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Jeffrey Hammonds, 1998 Collector's Choice #313

A few thoughts about this card:

  • It's always interesting to see card photos from 1997 featuring the "24" decal on the Orioles' helmets. Of course, that was a sign of support for outfielder Eric Davis, who was battling colon cancer during that season.
  • I like the placement of the O's logo in the bottom left corner. It complements the picture, rather than distracting from it.
  • This could be one of two games: June 30, 1997 or July 2, 1997. Both games featured Jeffrey Hammonds starting in right field for the Birds and Mike Lieberthal catching for the Phillies. Both were Baltimore wins, 8-1 and 10-6, respectively. In the first game, Hammonds went 1-for-3 with a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Tony Tarasco in the seventh inning. In the latter game, Jeffrey went 1-for-5 with a two-run homer in the eighth inning off of Ricky Bottalico. This late blast gave the O's some insurance after Lieberthal had hit a two-run shot off of Arthur Rhodes in the previous half-inning.
  • I really, really need to clean the glass on my scanner.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Wayne Gross, 1986 Fleer #276

Things I never would have guessed before checking Baseball Reference: in 1984, Wayne Gross ranked third among Oriole players with 22 home runs and 64 RBI, trailing only the exalted duo of Murray and Ripken. Though he batted just .216, his 68 walks boosted his on-base percentage to a healthy .346. He also slugged .442, giving him an OPS+ of 120 for the year. His 22 homers matched a career high set in 1977, his rookie season with Oakland. During that '77 campaign, Wayne made his only All-Star team. That one was a surprise to me, too.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Adam Loewen, 2004 Donruss Diamond Kings #88

The Phillies have recalled Adam Loewen from AAA Lehigh Valley...yes, that Adam Loewen. It's hard to keep track of these things, but he's a pitcher again, albeit a reliever now. If the lefty gets into a game with Philadelphia, he'll have one of the more unusual career stat sheets in MLB history. The O's drafted him fourth overall in 2002, and his Baltimore tenure was marred by injuries and a metric ton of walks. In parts of three seasons (2006-2008), he was 8-8 with a 5.38 ERA and 5.8 walks per nine innings. He converted to the outfield and first base to preserve his arm, and signed with the Blue Jays. He got a cup of coffee with Toronto in 2011, batting .188/.297/.313 in 14 games with a single home run...off of Tommy Hunter of the Orioles, of course. He's been kicking around the minors ever since, and was able to pitch without pain in the Venezuelan winter league following the 2013 season. The Phillies signed him, and he's posted a 2.01 ERA and 10 saves in 58.1 innings between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley in 2015. He's also struck out 73 batters, but walked 37. But hey, the Phillies are going nowhere fast, and Adam's got a left arm and a pulse, so it'll be interesting to see what he can do in the third act of his career.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Tony Muser, 1978 Topps #418

As I flipped through my 1978 Topps binder tonight, I noticed that many of the Orioles were still wearing their stirrups high and skinny in 1977, six years after the team traded Frank Robinson to the Dodgers. Of course, Frank was a trendsetter like that.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bobby Young, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #492

The Orioles' most significant trade-deadline acquisition was corner outfielder Gerardo Parra, acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for minor league pitcher Zach Davies. In a bit of serendipity, the two-time Gold Glover became the 1,000th player in Orioles history when he took his place in left field on Saturday, August 1. I'm not much for math, but that's an average of 16.1 new O's per season. It all began with second baseman Bobby Young, who led off for the Birds in their April 13, 1954 opener in Detroit and bounced out to Tigers first baseman Walt "Moose" Dropo, who was himself destined to be among the first 1,000 players in Oriole lore. As long as we're looking back on the team's Baltimore origins, here are the other firsts from that 3-0 loss to Steve Gromek in Motown:
  • First base hit: Gil Coan, single to right field with two outs in the first inning
  • First pitch: Don Larsen
  • First putout: Clint Courtney, catching strike three from Larsen to Detroit leadoff hitter Frank Bolling
  • First walk: Future Indians World Series hero Vic Wertz, leading off the top of the fourth
  • First extra-base hit: Larsen, double to left field with one out in the top of the fifth inning
  • First pinch hitter: Dick Kokos, who struck out while batting for shortstop Billy Hunter with one out in the top of the ninth

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Eddie Murray, 1982 Donruss #483

I've never understood why some people don't like to celebrate their birthdays. Today is my 33rd, which seems like quite a good number. In the spirit of Eddie Murray, Chris Davis made my birthday all the sweeter with a tenth-inning grand slam to seal a 7-3 win, helping the O's to take a three-game series in Oakland. I'm still not completely sold on the Orioles' chances to make it to the postseason, but we're into August and the games still mean something. I haven't forgotten all of the years when that wasn't the case.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tommy Hunter, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-16

At the rate I'm going, I'll have the entire team set posted by the end of the season. Anyhow, the Orioles parted ways with Tommy Hunter just before last Friday's 4:00 pm trade deadline, sending him to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Junior Lake. It was a move that created more roster flexibility for the club, and Hunter's $4.65 million price tag was pretty high for a middle reliever, but that doesn't mean that he won't be missed. He played the role of gregarious meathead pretty well, as you might expect of somebody with the Twitter handle @TommyGoesBOOM. Last year there was a between-innings "Ask an Oriole" video feature on the Camden Yards scoreboard with most of Tommy's teammates picking him as the player most likely to be thrown out of a nice restaurant...it ended with him matter-of-factly agreeing. He also gave me - and thousands of other O's fans - a fantastic memory when he secured the final out of the team's AL East Divison-clinching win last year. Afterward, he celebrated in style. Good luck in Chicago, Tommy.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bud Norris, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-8

I left town for a long weekend, and the Orioles lost two of their bigger personalities. Bud Norris was designated for assignment after Thursday's disastrous relief appearance, which left him 2-9 with a 7.06 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP in 2015. "Budford", as I liked to call him for no other reason than my own amusement, was never right this season, as he was hampered by a bout of bronchitis and also admitted to being overly concerned with his impending free agency. It was a far cry from his strong 2014 season, when he went 15-8 with a 3.65 ERA (8-2, 3.27 in the second half). Though he couldn't maintain that performance this season, Bud has etched out a place for himself in team history. O's fans are unlikely to forget his standout start in the Game Three ALDS clincher in Detroit last October, when the righty outdueled David Price with six and a third innings of two-hit, two-walk shutout ball. Norris struck out six batters in a 2-1 Baltimore win.

The other new ex-Oriole is Tommy Hunter, and he deserves his own sendoff. I'll do him right tomorrow.