Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Terry Crowley, 1983 Topps #372

The way the Orioles have been hitting (or not hitting) lately, there are probably a few frazzled fans out there who are pining for the days of hitting coach Terry Crowley. I'm not quite that desperate, just for the record. But I did witness Ryan Flaherty snapping the O's 29-inning scoreless streak with a second-inning three-run homer off of Toronto's Marco Estrada last night...followed by the team failing to score again and dropping a 4-3 decision to the Jays. Now torrential rains have bumped tonight's game to the front half of a single-admission doubleheader tomorrow. Maybe the Birds have saved all of their hits for just such an occasion. And maybe I'll find a few hundred thousand dollars between the couch cushions.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rafael Palmeiro, 2004 Fleer Hot Prospects Draft Edition #15

Here's a story that broke while I was out of town the weekend before last: Rafael Palmeiro's return to pro baseball.

A full ten years (plus a couple of weeks) after playing his last MLB game with the Orioles, the most overlooked member of the 3,000-hit club signed a contract with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. How a team from Texas fits into the Atlantic League is a question for another day. I'm more interested in the fact that Palmeiro was back on the field at age 50 to play alongside his son Patrick, aged 25. The younger Palmeiro was drafted by the White Sox in 2012, but batted only .227/.277/.365 in three seasons in the low minors. He's spent all of 2015 with the Skeeters, putting up a line of .256/.315/.404 in 128 games, with 13 home runs and 68 RBI.

As it turned out, Raffy played a single game for Sugar Land, batting third and pulling DH duties. He went 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. Patrick batted ahead of his father in the two-hole and started at third base. Patrick turned in a 2-for-5 effort with a walk, a double, a homer, and four RBI. I'm sure the lineup protection afforded by one of the best lefthanded hitters in the history of baseball - one who just happens to be his father - made it all possible.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Willy Miranda, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #307

The Orioles did not score a single lousy run all weekend in Fenway Park. The last time that Baltimore's baseball team was shut out in three straight games, it took a Willy Miranda RBI single to break the skid. That was back on August 2, 1957, in the second inning of the opener of a doubleheader against the Athletics.

I'm still looking forward to seeing the O's open their final homestand of the season tomorrow night, despite this latest embarrassing stumble. After all, I've only got tickets for three more games this year, and there will be something missing in my life for the rest of the fall and winter.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Rich Hill, 2009 Topps Heritage #666

If you were clinging to any pipe dreams about a last-minute Orioles surge into the playoffs, being shut out at the hands of Rich Hill on two hits and ten strikeouts ought to kill that good. Yes, the same Rich Hill who hadn't even made a big league start since bombing out with the O's in 2009. So of course he's slipped into the Boston rotation this September and allowed three runs, ten hits, and two walks while striking out 30 in 23 innings. Man, baseball drives me bonkers.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Dave Nicholson, 1961 Topps #182

I know what you're thinking, but Topps didn't give the Orioles' bat boy a card. Dave Nicholson was 20 years old when he debuted for the Orioles in May of 1960. Two years earlier, they'd signed him as a teenager for a whopping $100,000 bonus. He led the Class C Northern League with 35 home runs in 1959 while playing for the Aberdeen Pheasants. That early success didn't carry over to the big leagues, though. In his first taste of the majors, Dave struck out 55 times in 113 at-bats. "Big Nick" played only 151 games for the O's over two seasons, batting .178/.296/.357 with 14 homers and 26 RBI. Baltimore traded him to the White Sox in January, 1963 as part of the Luis Aparicio deal.

His first season in the Windy City was his best, as he played 126 games and batted .229 with 22 home runs and 70 RBI...and a then-record 175 strikeouts in 520 at-bats. The following year, he made his mark in a May 6 doubleheader at Comiskey Park against the Athletics. Facing future Oriole Moe Drabowsky, Nicholson hit a pair of home runs. His solo shot leading off the bottom of the fifth inning traveled 573 feet, one of the longest measured blasts in history, and either struck or cleared the left field roof and was later located across the street. For good measure, Dave added a third home run off of Aurelio Monteagudo in the nightcap.

Unfortunately, Dave didn't make contact frequently enough to stick in the majors. His career ended with a 10-game swing with the Braves in 1967, when he was just 27 years old. Be that as it may, the dude hit a baseball 573 feet. I have a hard time even picturing that.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Matt Wieters, 2008 Razor #54

By hook or by crook, the Orioles have kept their faint playoff hopes alive. Today Matt Wieters took over in the eighth inning, blasting a go-ahead two-run homer off of Nationals reliever Blake Treinen in the top of the frame and helping blunt a Washington rally in the home half by pouncing on an Ian Desmond bunt and gunning down pinch runner Wilmer Difo at third base. O's win 5-4, completing the sweep and sprinkling even more dirt on the coffin of the one-time World Series favorite. That's an 11-4 run for the Birds, allowing them to claw back to .500. With ten games left to play (three in Boston, four at home vs. Toronto, three at home vs. the Yankees), the O's are 3.5 behind Houston for the second wild card berth. It's still not terribly likely that they will jump over the Twins, Angels, and Astros to earn the right to visit the Bronx for the coin flip game, but as they say, you can't predict baseball (unless you were to predict that Jonathan Papelbon would act like a Neanderthal and embarrass his teammates, coaches, and fans, but I digress). This has not been the greatest of years for the Orioles, but I appreciate that they've continued putting forth an effort through it all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Walter Young, 2006 Topps Heritage #216

I never like talking about recently-deceased Orioles, and I especially don't like it when the ex-player is two years older than me. Walter Young suffered a fatal heart attack last Saturday at age 35. His O's career consisted of a 14-game stint in September 2005, but he made a splashy debut in the Baltimore organization a year earlier with 33 homers and 98 RBI at AA Bowie after being claimed off waivers from the Pirates. According to the text on the back of this 2006 Topps Heritage card, big Walter (6'5", 320 pounds) hit the B&O Warehouse on the fly during a batting practice session at Camden Yards. It's a shame he didn't get to showcase that light-tower power in an extended trial in the bigs. His lone big league round-tripper was hit in Texas on September 13, 2005, leading off the seventh inning against future Cy Young winner R. A. Dickey. Ten years later, he's gone. It's just too soon.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cal Ripken Jr., 1999 Upper Deck UD Choice #36

It's a good thing that I have a handful of faithful readers like Zach to pay close attention to arbitrary numeric milestones, otherwise I would never have realized that I was on the precipice of 2,632 blog posts. While it would be tempting to just hang up my proverbial spikes tonight, just as Cal asked out of the Orioles' lineup 17 years ago, nobody likes a copycat. Besides, sharing my collection and my scattered thoughts with you helps me to feel like there's some further purpose to my card-accumulating madness. So let's get started on the next 2,632, and in the meantime...does this butt-ugly card make anybody feel like drinking a nice, cold glass of Sunny Delight?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Jay Gibbons, 2003 Upper Deck MVP #24

So I'm back from the hinterlands Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, and the Orioles have been rained out down in that sterile mallpark in D. C. What kind of a welcome home is that? I blame Jay Gibbons. I have no reason to do so. I just find that it helps to blame Jay Gibbons for things every so often, just to keep him honest.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Mark McLemore, 1993 Topps #55

I'm leaving town tomorrow, and the O's sent me on my way by sleepwalking through a 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the Red Sox tonight. We are heading to northeastern Pennsylvania for an end-of-summer weekend getaway at my family's lakeside cottage. I have a random memory of buying one of my first packs of 1993 Topps up that way, at a McCrory's store that was probably closed within a few years. It was a Series One rack pack, and I'm fairly sure that this Mark McLemore card came from that pack. Ah, memories.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tony Batista, 2002 Fleer Ultra #200

I wanted to tell you about the Orioles' walk-off win against the Red Sox tonight, but this game is taking too damned long and I get little enough sleep as it is. As I take my leave from you in the middle of the 11th, here's Tony Batista watching the flight of a ball off of his bat. Tony hit a pair of walk-off home runs as an Oriole, a tenth-inning solo shot against J. J. Trujillo of the Padres on June 11, 2002 and another tenth-inning solo shot against Tampa Bay's Jesus Colome on August 21, 2003. Whose turn will it be tonight?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dennis Martinez, 1981 Donruss #533

September 14 is a good day for an anniversary. On this date in 1976, Dennis Martinez earned the win in his major league debut with 5.2 shutout innings of four-hit, five-strikeout relief in a 9-7 victory over the Tigers. He bailed the Birds out after Ross Grimsley and Dave Pagan combined to cough up seven runs in three and one-third innings, stranding a pair of inherited runners. By the time he entered, the O's had already come most of the way back from an early 6-0 deficit, thanks in large part to a Doug DeCinces three-run homer, but he arrested Detroit's momentum and kept the score tight until the offense broke through with a four-run burst in the bottom of the seventh. Dennis sealed the win with a perfect ninth inning, inducing a trio of ground ball outs to make history as the first-ever Nicaraguan-born player in the major leagues. To this day, he's still one of just 14 players from his native country to play in the bigs, and is by far the most accomplished. (Take THAT, Everth Cabrera.)

September 14, 2015 is also the second anniversary of my wedding day. She's still putting up with me, and often doing so with a smile. I'm forever grateful.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dick Kokos, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #245

For no reason at all, here's Dick Kokos, a St. Louis Browns holdover who played just 11 games for the Orioles in 1954, batting 14 times with four walks and two hits, one of which was a home run. Dick Kokos is fun to say. Try it: Dick Kokos. See?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Nolan Reimold, 2013 Topps Orioles Team Set #BAL-13

I feel very chastened after missing my second straight Vintage Friday, but I have the best of reasons. I didn't make it home from Oriole Park at Camden Yards until about 12:15 this morning, because I stayed until the not-so-bitter end of the Birds' four-hour comeback win over the Royals. Being a first-hand witness to one of the more improbable contests of the year reminded me of  how much excitement and weirdness a fan can experience over the course of a single baseball season. Just last night, the O's treated us to:

-Cuban-born outfielder Dariel Alvarez's first career home run

-A daring first-to-home dash from Manny Machado on a two-out single by Chris Davis, punctuated by a head-first slide and a swipe of home plate, just ahead of K.C. catcher Salvador Perez's tag

-Nolan Reimold's go-ahead grand slam off of the left field foul pole in the bottom of the eighth inning

-Machado greeting reliever Franklin Morales with a solo homer immediately after Reimold's grand slam, making for back-to-back four-baggers against two different pitchers

-Chris Davis responding to a presumably intentional plunking by Morales by slamming his bat into the ground, breaking it in two

-Buck Showalter earning an ejection by unleashing a hellacious tirade against home plate umpire Mark Carlson, who warned both benches after the Davis HBP but refused to eject Morales

-Steve Clevenger (who had pinch hit for Caleb Joseph earlier in the inning) earning a measure of retribution against the Royals by hitting another grand slam in the bottom of the eighth, striking his blow against old Baltimore favorite Joba Chamberlain

So all in all, that added up to a wild 14-8 O's win. In that eventful eighth inning, they tallied ten runs in a single frame for the first time since April 11, 2002, when Geronimo Gil and Mike Bordick sparked a 12-run sixth against the Devil Rays with back-to-back home runs. They also became the first major league team in a decade to hit two grand slams in one inning, and only the seventh team to ever perform that feat. It doesn't quite make up for the indignities of the 2014 ALCS, but it felt good all the same.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rodrigo Lopez, 2003 Topps Gallery #13

I hope this bizarre portrait of Rodrigo Lopez doesn't keep you awake tonight. To me, there's something that just seems off about it, but I can't quite pinpoint it. Too strong on the whiskers? Head too narrow? Flesh too orange? Maybe it's all of the above. I'm not saying that I could do better, but then I'm not selling my wares to Topps, either.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Rafael Palmeiro, 1995 Upper Deck #366

Before he was finger-pointing, earplug-wearing, Tejada-blaming twilight-of-his-career Rafael Palmeiro, he was just Raffy, and he did a lot of impressive things in an Orioles uniform. But #25 only had one 40-homer season in Baltimore. Same goes for Frank Robinson, Jim Gentile, Brady Anderson, and Nelson Cruz. Within the past week, Chris Davis became the first player in franchise history to hit 40 home runs in two different seasons. Last night, he slugged his 41st in the top of the ninth to give the O's a 2-1 win in Yankee Stadium. Tonight, "Crush" was held in the ballpark, but still came up big in a series-clinching 5-3 win in the Bronx. He singled, doubled, and walked twice, driving in the team's first run and a crucial ninth-inning insurance tally. There hasn't been much worth celebrating in Birdland over the past month, but Chris Davis continues to inspire awe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Jeffrey Hammonds, 1994 Collector's Choice #123

If you look closely at this photo, you will see that the name engraved on the bat is "Jeff Hammonds". That is literally the first time I can recall seeing his name shortened. Was it his choice, or did the bat company just goof? Maybe it was a space-saving measure. I wonder if Jeff Hammonds would have had a more successful career than Jeffrey Hammonds. What about J. B. Hammonds? Eh, I don't like that. It sounds too much like an investment firm. Ultimately, I think Jeffrey was the right call. It just has a ring to it...not a World Series ring, unfortunately, but what's done is done.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Tim Stoddard, 1983 Fleer #75

No, the Orioles' ongoing backslide into crapulence hasn't driven me away from blogging just yet. I was out of town for the holiday weekend, attending Chikara Pro Wrestling's King of Trios tournament in scenic Easton, PA. Because I am the undisputed master of time management, I waited until 90 minutes prior to my departure to try to fit in: yardwork, a shower, packing, and blogging. Guess which of those activities fell by the wayside.

Now that I'm trying to get back to my usual routines, I've got a thoroughly useless fact about the 1983 Fleer Orioles team set for you. There are a whopping six cards featuring O's pitchers without their hats. The rogue's gallery consists of both Dennis and Tippy Martinez, Scott McGregor, Jim Palmer (of course), Sammy Stewart, and...Tim Stoddard? Hey, when in Rome. Anyhow, there are no Oriole position players in this set who appear capless, which makes things even quirkier. Maybe the pitchers had a No-Hat Wednesday and the hitters weren't invited. It makes as much sense as any other explanation.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Chris Hoiles, 1993 Stadium Club #345

Last night Chris Davis caught - and then passed - Chris Hoiles for 11th all-time on the Orioles' home run leader board, and he did so emphatically. The man they call "Crush" first brought the O's back from an early 4-0 hole with a game-tying two-run homer in the third inning that hit the center field batter's eye wall on a bounce, traveling 438 feet from home plate. Then, after Jonathan Schoop's two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth wiped out a 6-4 deficit, the game dragged on into the 11th. A weary Davis jumped on a 3-0 offering from Rays reliever Matt Andriese and nearly hit the right-center field scoreboard with his 38th home run of the season and his 152nd since joining the O's in late 2011. The titanic blast had six seconds of hang time, enough for the ball to travel 459 feet. It was also the brawny first baseman's 90th homer at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, pushing him past Melvin Mora for fourth all-time. There's no shame in being chased down by Chris Davis.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Eddie Murray, 1986 Fleer #282

Tonight's game looked really nasty in the top of the third inning, when poor defense, poor pitching, and poor umpiring conspired to chase Kevin Gausman from the mound after two and a third innings. It was 4-0, and the bases were still loaded. Chaz Roe, fresh off the disabled list, induced a double play grounder to end the inning, and the O's bats awakened from their long slumber to tie the game with a four-run outburst in the bottom half of the inning. Chris Davis' two-run homer knotted it up and ensured the O's of scoring more than three runs in a game for the first time since their last win one week ago. They also spent the prior week failing to exceed three runs in any game. What I'm saying is that the offense is not thriving. So I'm resorting to the ever-reliable Eddie Murray talisman. Let's go O's! Score some runs, break this slide, or Eddie's gonna come straighten you out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Eric Bell, 1987 Fleer Update #U-2

Eric Bell looks a bit queasy in this photo. Maybe he watched the Orioles get thrashed by the Rays again tonight, 11-2, their sixth straight loss and 12th in 13 games. They're six games under .500, two games out of last place, and haven't topped three runs in any of those dirty dozen L's. Is this rock bottom, or can they sink even lower?