Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Monday, April 30, 2018

Ken Singleton, 1981 Fleer Star Stickers #103

To close out a mostly forgettable April in Birdland, here's a belated mail day! Late last week, I got an envelope from Max, who'd found a few more cards that he'd meant to include in the larger stack he sent earlier this month. It included several 2018 Topps Opening Day O's (one of them being my first Chance Sisco card), four 1981 Fleer Star Stickers, and an all-gold Brooks Robinson card that some cursory searching tells me is probably from a 1996-2003 Danbury Mint set. Now that's an impressive oddball!

Ken Singleton, by the by, has announced that he will be retiring from broadcasting after the 2018 season. Singy has been calling Yankees games on the YES Network for 22 years now, to the chagrin of Orioles fans. However, in my limited experience with YES telecasts, Ken at least brings a bit of class and sanity to the proceedings. In that sense, the 70-year-old former All-Star will be missed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Kevin Gausman, 2014 Topps Heritage #377

My nascent Camden Yards win streak may have been cut short at three with last night's 2-1 heartbreaker, but that doesn't mean that there weren't any memorable moments. On a personal level, my sister and I won the team's seat upgrade promotion. Since the paid attendance was a cozy 10,614, and the actual number of butts in seats was significantly less for a Monday evening game in April, I encouraged Liz to text our seat location to the promotional number. I figured the odds were in our favor, at least moreso than they've ever been before. So wouldn't you know that when I returned from a third-inning beer run, she was in possession of two tickets for Section 37? I'm quite fond of our usual vantage point in Section 340, but it was nice to be a bit closer to the action. Plus, it's always a cheap thrill to see yourself on the scoreboard. Here's a crummy picture of our upgraded view, courtesy of my iPhone.
As you can see, we were right below the press box, in the last row before you reach the box seats. That meant that we had an excellent view of Kevin Gausman's historical seventh inning. Gausman was a hard-luck loser last night, allowing two runs on four hits in eight innings, with seven strikeouts against just one walk. Yonder Alonso's second-inning homer held up for the Indians, since the O's flaccid bats couldn't produce anything beyond Chance Sisco's second-inning RBI single.

Anyhow, I was pleased to see Gausman mow down Alonso, Yan Gomes, and Bradley Zimmer in order in the top of the seventh. It was all the more impressive because he struck out the side. But I didn't realize until I read the recap this morning that he disposed of all three Cleveland batters on three pitches apiece. It's come to be known as an "immaculate inning", and despite the increasing frequency of strikeouts in today's MLB, it's still pretty rare. There have been 90 such innings on record, making it a less common occurrence than a cycle or a no-hitter. 85 different pitchers have had a three-K, nine-pitch inning, including a record high of eight last season. (Sandy Koufax had three of them.) Kevin is the first pitcher to throw an immaculate inning in 2018, and the first Oriole to do so since B. J. Ryan blew away Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, and Richie Sexson on September 5, 1999. I guess there's just something about the Indians.

I'm glad to know that I witnessed a little bit of history...even if the significance escaped me at the time.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Buddy Peterson, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #359

There are 501 cards in the promotional "All-Time Orioles" set, which of course gave enterprising collectors a card of each and every player who donned orange and black from the team's arrival in 1954 through the beginning of the 1991 season. With this post, I've featured 83 of those cards on my blog. Maybe I'll hang it up for good if I ever get around to all of them.

Anyhow, I plucked this card out of obscurity today because Carl Francis "Buddy" Peterson was born on this date 93 years ago. I figured that I might as well try to fill in one of the gaps in my knowledge of the team's early history. A native of Portland, OR, Peterson was in his ninth professional season when the White Sox purchased his contract from the Pacific Coast League's San Diego Padres club in the summer of 1955. The 30-year-old batted .306 with a .374 on-base percentage in 154 games that year with the Friars, and got a taste of the big leagues with Chicago in September. He actually debuted against the Orioles, hitting a single off of Jim Wilson while batting for pitcher Sandy Consuegra in the eighth inning of an 8-2 O's win on September 14. That was the first half of a doubleheader at Memorial Stadium; he started the nightcap at shortstop and went 2-for-5 with a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored from the leadoff position to help the ChiSox earn a split. In all, Peterson appeared in six games with the Pale Hose, batting .286/.400/.333 with seven runs scored.

Despite this favorable introduction to the majors, Buddy spent all of 1956 with Chicago's AA affiliate in Memphis, hitting .279 with a slugging percentage of .393. The Orioles acquired him that offseason, and sent him back to his old stomping grounds in the PCL, where he batted .298/.368/.420 with a career-best 38 doubles for the Vancouver Mounties. Again, he got a late-season cameo in the bigs, but hit safely just three times and walked twice in 19 tries for a .176 average. He kicked around in the PCL for three more seasons afterward without making it back to MLB, and capped his playing career with three years in Japan, batting .272/.340/.462 with 58 homers and 186 RBI for the Nankai Hawks. So in summary, Buddy Peterson played pro baseball for 17 seasons and some 2,375 games, including 13 games at the sport's highest level.

Post-playing career, Buddy managed in the minors for the Mets, Royals, and Athletics, posting an overall record of 295-285 in six seasons. He also worked briefly as a scout for Kansas City and Oakland. Peterson died at age 81 in 2006 due to complications from a stroke.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Eddie Murray, 2002 Fleer Fall Classic #33

As you may remember, when the Orioles are playing especially poorly, I throw up the Eddie Signal. It's like the Bat Signal, but with sideburns and mustache in place of cape and cowl. Rarely in recent years have things looked so dire. 19 games into the season, the O's are 5-14, scraping the bottom of the barrel. They've been swept thrice in six series this year, and are staggering back to Baltimore tomorrow night on the heels of an 0-6 road trip to Boston (understandable) and Detroit (inexcusable). Chris Tillman is looking just as cooked as he was last year, Alex Cobb is not exactly in midseason form, and Mike Wright Jr. is exactly who we thought he was. Zach Britton, Mark Trumbo, Colby Rasmus, and Jonathan Schoop are hurt. Trey Mancini, Manny Machado, and Pedro Alvarez are the only guys who are hitting at all. The defense is uncharacteristically sloppy. To sum it up in one word, yuck.

The good news? Dylan Bundy pitches tomorrow, and he's been as good as the Birds could've hoped. After a road-heavy early slate, the Orioles will actually get to settle in for a ten-game homestand, which can't hurt. I have tickets to tomorrow night's game, and so far I've witnessed the team's only two home wins in 2018. Also, Fleer gave Eddie Murray card number 33 in this set, and I can't tell you how much that pleases me.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Pedro Alvarez, 2016 Topps #367

(Cheesy Photoshop alert!)

I hope you could forgive my pessimism as the Orioles staggered into Yankee Stadium last Thursday in the midst of a five-game losing streak. A four-game weekend series against the powerful New York lineup did not seem like the prescription for what ailed the Birds. So naturally, the O's took three of four from the pinstripers, including a pair of bizarre extra-inning contests:

-Thursday brought Andrew Cashner (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) his first win as an Oriole, and the O's rallied for five seventh-inning runs. Adam Jones' two-run homer off of Masahiro Tanaka gave Baltimore a lead they wouldn't relinquish en route to a 5-2 final score.

-Friday's game stretched into the wee hours of Saturday morning, as it took 14 innings and nearly five and a half hours for the Birds to escape with a 7-3 victory. It looked like a Mychal Givens wild pitch would end it in the bottom of the eleventh, but Caleb Joseph chased down the ball and tossed it to former shortstop Givens, who slid into home plate just ahead of baserunner Didi Gregorius and tagged him out. After an umpire review, it was determined that Givens had not obstructed Didi's path to the dish. That set the stage (eventually) for Pedro Alvarez's grand slam to provide the winning margin.

-After dropping Saturday afternoon's game, the Orioles sealed the series win with a rousing comeback on Sunday. Mike Wright put the O's in a five-run hole in the first inning, but a pair of two-run homers by Anthony Santander (his first as a big leaguer) and Danny Valencia helped Baltimore briefly take the lead in the top of the seventh inning. The Yankees tied it up in the home half of that inning, and it remained a stalemate until the top of the twelfth. That's when Craig Gentry's two-out single through the left side of the infield plated Pedro Alvarez. 8-7, Orioles. The drama persisted in the Yankees' final ups, with Brad Brach walking two batters and mishandling a Brett Gardner bunt to create a bases-loaded, no-outs jam with sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton due to hit. Judge tapped a grounder back to the mound, with Brach, Caleb Joseph, and Tim Beckham collaborating on a deft 1-2-5 double play to wipe out the two lead runners. Then Brach earned the save by striking out Stanton swinging, the fifth K of the day for the 2017 MLB home run leader.

In recent years, the Orioles have made a habit out of proving their detractors wrong. If they want to keep it up in 2018, it is absolutely alright with me.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Vintage Fridays: Mike Cuellar, 1975 Topps #410

2808 career innings in the major leagues. Four All-Star seasons. A World Series ring. A Cy Young Award. 185 career wins, including four seasons with at least 20 and seven with at least 15 W's. A lifetime ERA of 3.14 in the regular season, and 2.85 in a dozen postseason starts. Heck, he even holds an obscure record: most home runs hit by a player with a career on-base percentage below .130 (seven homers, .128 OBP).

...All of this, and Topps couldn't manage to spell his name correctly on this card near the tail end of his career. It's C-U-E-L-L-A-R. No respect, I tell ya.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Chris Davis, 2015 Topps Archives #205

One week into the 2018 season, Chris Davis has gotten off to a start that is...to use the scientific term, hot garbage. He has two singles in 25 at-bats, has walked three times, and struck out six. That's an .080 batting average and a robust .258 OPS. He's now whiffed 1,208 times in 908 games as an Oriole, bringing him within 97 K's of the franchise record that it took Cal Ripken Jr. 3,001 games to set. I'm not saying that Chris Davis should get all of the blame for the team's ooooogly 1-5 start, but he sure isn't helping. But hey, he's got four more years on his contract after this season to make it up to us. No, I'm not screaming. It must have been you.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Nick Markakis, 2008 Topps Heritage #170

Two disparate thoughts:

1. The Orioles' Opening Day win wasn't the only game on Thursday to end with a walkoff home run. Our old friend Nick Markakis, owner of 166 career homers and 2,056 base hits, clubbed the first game-ending round-tripper of his 13-year career. He really made it count, breaking a 5-5 tie with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a three-run shot. (Incidentally, I might just mention the O's Opening Day victory in each and every blog post until they actually win another game...hurry up, guys.)

2. Last Saturday I visited the Baseball Card Outlet for the first time in a year. I'd love to drop in more often, but when I start rooting through their bargain vintage boxes, a dollar or two here or there adds up in a hurry. I pried myself away after picking up 30 late 1950s Topps cards, including a 20-count from the 1959 Topps set that I've been chipping away at for several years. Now I have 444 of the 572 cards in that set, a cool 77.6% completion rate. So I'm almost as close to finishing that 60-year-old set as I am to completing the 2008 Topps Heritage set that pays tribute to it. Of course, there are no Mickey Mantles and Willie Mayses lurking out there for the Heritage set...so it's mostly an uphill climb from here.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Caleb Joseph, 2015 Topps Orioles Team Set #BO-17

As I mentioned on Thursday, the Orioles are undefeated on Opening Day under Buck Showalter, with an 8-0 mark dating back to 2011. But it probably didn't hurt that they had their good luck charm in the ballpark this year.

Last year, I made it a point to bring my son Finn to Oriole Park as often as was practical; six games in all, a number to grow on. The O's won the first five of those games before dropping a 7-4 clunker to the Yankees at the beginning of their September slide. Janet and I were excited to bring Finn to his first Opening Day this year, and he seemed to be up for it, too. We decked him out in his "Future MVP" Orioles onesie and his trusty orange cap, and on the way from the parking lot into the stadium he kept exclaiming "Orioles!" as he spotted all of the other folks in their team colors. We entered through Gate C, which meant that Finn could romp around to his heart's delight in the Kids' Corner before we made our way up to our seats. (He was especially fond of the slide.)

I'm always glad to see familiar faces year after year at the ballpark, and that includes the usher who typically works our section. He keeps a stash of baseball cards on his person to hand out to kids at the game, and Finn got a 1991 Score Terry Leach and a 1989 Fleer Brian Holton. I must admit that he spindled, folded, and mutilated both of them, but he is only 20 months old. I'll wait a bit to teach him the finer points of baseball card care. As far as the pregame ceremonies go, Finn was especially taken by the fireworks that were shot off over the scoreboard, and the flyover by the Maryland Air National Guard. Me, I'm a sucker for Jim Hunter introducing the Birds' players and urging the crowd to welcome the new team members to Baltimore. It's even better when he welcomes the rookies to the major leagues.

I have to admit that Finn's disposition wasn't as sunny throughout the game as it usually is; since first pitch was at 3:05 PM, he missed his afternoon nap. But after an early-inning snack, he was in better spirits. Fortune smiled on us as the game marched on; the additional tickets we'd bought for Opening Day were in section 342, so Janet, Finn, and I were separated from my sister and father, who took our season ticket seats in 340. But if anyone had the two seats next to my sis and dad, they didn't show. So we were all reunited for the second half of the game, once we were reasonably sure that nobody would come around to displace us. That meant that we had an even better view for Caleb Joseph's clutch two-run triple, which broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning. That huge hit was all the sweeter because it came off the bat of one of our favorite O's players (and probably our favorite person on the team). After all, Finn's middle name is Caleb, and incidentally, he learned to say "Caleb" before he could/would say "Finn".

Through the late innings of the game, our kiddo was visibly exhausted. His eyelids were drooping, and he chomped down on his blanket and nestled into Janet's arms.When Brad Brach gave up the lead in the top of the ninth, Finn finally gave up the ghost. He slumbered through extra innings, and didn't even stir when Adam Jones crushed Fernando Rodney's first fastball into the left field seats in the bottom of the eleventh and we joined the rest of the sellout crowd in uproarious cheers and shouts. Janet leapt to her feet, pulled Finn to her chest, and rhythmically thumped him on the back in lieu of applause...and still he didn't wake. But as soon as we were out on the concourse, making our way out of the park with the rest of the thrilled O's fans, he snapped back to life, chattering and squirming. It still counts as a win on his ledger, even if he needed a little power nap to survive.