Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Austin Hays, 2018 Topps Opening Day#125

Just tossing up a quick post before bed, since I'm still working at incorporating blogging back into my routine. So please enjoy this video of Austin Hays robbing Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. of a home run last September 19. As you'll note from the bare expanse of green seats in center field, Baltimore fans got the jump on social distancing.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Billy Ripken, 1993 Upper Deck #181

Hey, it's been a while since I've sleuthed out a baseball card photo, so let's jump on it. Orioles at Oakland, Billy Ripken attempting to turn the double play with Dann Howitt sliding into second base. My first stop is Billy's 1992 game log on Baseball Reference. He played four road games against the A's that season, all starts at second base. The two later-season options (August 31, September 1) didn't include Howitt, so that narrows it down to May 30 and 31. Incidentally, Howitt was erased at second on a twin killing in each of those games, but the play-by-play from May 31 indicates that Cal Ripken made the putout. So, May 30, 1992 is our winner.

It was a Saturday afternoon game, with the marquee pitching matchup of Jose Mesa vs. Joe Slusarski. Two first-inning Baltimore runs were matched by a pair of Oakland tallies in the second, with Dann Howitt himself delivering an RBI single for the tying run. Then Mike Bordick tapped a ground ball to O's third baseman Leo Gomez, leading to the double play that is captured on this very card. The teams remained deadlocked until Brady Anderson put the Birds on top with a solo home run in the top of the fifth. The visitors extended the lead with a four-run outbreak in the sixth via two more homers - a leadoff solo shot from Sam Horn and a three-run blast by Chito Martinez. That 7-2 cushion didn't last long, though. The Athletics crawled back with two-spots in the seventh and eighth innings each; Randy Ready's pinch hit two-run homer off of Mike Flanagan closed the gap to a single run and necessitated a six-out save from Gregg Olson. Fortunately, the Otter was up to the task, pitching around two hits and a walk to secure his 11th save. O's win, 7-6. "The more you know..."

Friday, April 24, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Brooks Robinson, 1969 Topps #421

There's a few things to unpack with this Brooks Robinson All-Star card. First things first: yes, it's very well-worn. It's entirely possible that somebody tried to make an origami crane out of ol' Brooksie. You might also notice that his cap looks pretty old-fashioned. Indeed, the Orioles last wore those black caps with the chicken-scratch-looking bird way back in 1965. As with many other cards in the 1969 set, this presumably has something to do with the Marvin Miller-orchestrated player boycott of Topps photographers that spanned the 1967 and 1968 seasons. (More information here.) Lastly, there's the background image. When I first grabbed this card from the binder tonight, I thought it was an early example of an action photo on a baseball card. But a closer look reveals an odd painting effect. Your guess is as good as mine. The back of the card is a piece of a photo puzzle of legendary Red Sox left fielder Carl Yastrzemski. It's most of his cap, with the familiar Boston "B". I'm not including a picture here, because it's just a disembodied hat. I have my limits.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Sebastian Vader, 2014 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP72

It's been ten years since the Orioles drafted Sebastian Vader with their 18th-round draft pick, and I'm still disappointed that someone with such a first-rate name didn't make it to the major leagues. Vader spent six seasons in pro ball, all in the Baltimore organization, but never so much as reached AA. He totaled just 80 games (68 starts), with a 24-24 record and a 3.31 ERA. Dr. Google tells me that the righty from California dealt with shoulder problems in 2015, and retired the following spring, leaving the Orioles' promotional team lamenting the Star Wars tie-ins that could have been.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Mike Bordick, 2001 Topps Chrome Retrofractor #T36

It's hard to believe, but it was just a shade over two and a half months ago that the Orioles held their first-ever Birdland Caravan, a successful series of public events featuring players, coaches, team executives, and former players. It was a sendoff of sorts as the team prepared to head down to Spring Training, and was intended to fill some of the void caused by the discontinuation of the traditional FanFest event. I'd been attending FanFest each year since 2010, but I can't say I was too sorry to see it go. There's only so much time you can spend weaving around masses of people in the Convention Center, especially when you've got a toddler to wrangle. So the Caravan seemed like a good way to scratch my offseason baseball itch when it was announced. O's personnel and craft beer? You don't have to ask me twice. I took a look at the itinerary, and decided to drive an hour south to check out Calvert Brewing on Saturday, February 8. We'd originally intended to make it a family outing, but Finn ended up catching strep throat, and Janet graciously offered to stay home with him so that I could go solo and not miss out.

Now, I'm not telling secrets when I say that the Birds haven't played the best brand of baseball in the past few years, and are not expected to be competitive in the near future. Camden Yards has been sparsely populated by fans, and nobody would blame we Baltimore rooters for a lack of enthusiasm. But when I pulled into the building complex that hosts Calvert Brewing on that Saturday afternoon, I had to go to the far end of the lot to find a parking space. I walked into the taproom and there was a crush of people from one end of the room to the other, a throng of orange and black. I told my wife later that it was just as well that she'd stayed home; she's an introvert through and through.

I wriggled my way through to the bar, where I could see team VP and GM Mike Elias (center in above photo), slugger Trey Mancini (right, wearing the hell out of a denim jacket), and former shortstop and current broadcaster Mike Bordick (left above) pouring drinks for the customers. I was looking forward to possibly meeting Brian Roberts again, and thanking him for the bat that he autographed for Janet back when she was battling cancer, but he wasn't able to make it for whatever reason. I did manage to get Bordick's attention, and ordered a Shake Your Tree (the most important thing about craft beer is thinking up ridiculous names that are as embarrassing as possible to say out loud). Now I can't say that I've never been served a pint by the top defensive shortstop of 1999.
I stepped out to get some fresh air and a chicken gyro from the food truck, then made my way back to the brewing tanks, where there were a few tables and games set up. It was less crowded there, which gave me a close-up view of infielder (and surprise owner of a .305 batting average in 2019) Hanser Alberto, who was playing cornhole with some small children. A little later, he took his own turn at tending bar, and paused to take a few selfies with fans as things were winding down. I got my own photo with Hanser, and told him that I was sure he would win the batting crown in 2020. He responded with a thumbs-up, so I think that confirms it. Now we just need to actually have a season of some sort.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Scott McGregor, 1986 Donruss #291

There's something reassuring about picking up a stack of ugly-ass mid-eighties Donruss cards 35 years later and learning new things. From flipping this card over and reading the back, I discovered that Scott McGregor's middle name is "Houston". He grew up in California, so he wasn't named after his hometown. I've also learned that as of 1986, Scotty was living in Phoenix, MD - 14 miles away from my current domicile. Oddly enough, he was also a switch hitter. He never batted in the regular season, but did step to the plate 11 times in World Series play. He went 0-for-9, but did walk twice and score once. So that's a .182 on-base percentage...which is probably better than I managed in little league.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Bob Nieman, 1957 Topps #14

I would like to apologize to Bob Nieman on behalf of whoever gouged up his face in the fifty or so years before this card came into my possession. Surely, that's no way to treat the first Oriole regular to ever bat .300 in a season. As you may be able to see, Nieman also wore number four, one of the few players to do so before Earl Weaver claimed it for perpetuity. (Hall of Famer/Brooks Robinson mentor George Kell was another, and first baseman "Diamond Jim" Gentile was the most well-known.) Additionally, Bob worked for several big league clubs as a scout from 1967 through 1984. He had a hand in the Indians drafting and signing John Lowenstein in 1968, incidentally.

One last note: I swear that I chose this card at random, but once I started doing the subsequent research, I found out that Bob Nieman died in 1985 age 58 in...Corona, CA. There are coincidences everywhere when you're looking for them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dwight Smith, Jr., 2019 Topps National Baseball Card Day #BAL-7

At least there's one current member of the Orioles who is playing baseball this month.

Outfielder Dwight Smith, Jr. (yes, I remember his father playing in Baltimore in 1994, and suddenly all of my joints ache) is the team representative in MLB The Show's Players League, a round-robin video game competition with 30 major league players facing off against each other. Games are three innings in length, and are played in four-game chunks on pre-scheduled nights, with the contests streamed across several various social media hubs. There will also be a "postseason" for the top eight finishers. Each team's home city receives a $5,000 donation to a local chapter of the Boys & Girls Club, with an additional $25,000 going to the designated Boys & Girls Club in the league winner's home city. So it's all happening for a good cause, besides giving some baseball-starved athletes and fans a diversion.

Anyway, last night was Dwight Junior's Players League Debut, and it was a strong one. He won three of the four games he played, with victories against Tommy Kahnle's Yankees (6-5), Hunter Pence's Giants (2-0), and Cole Tucker's Pirates (1-0). The lone blemish on his record was a 5-4 heartbreaker to Blake Snell's Rays that featured a Mychal Givens blown save in the third inning and a Mike Zunino walkoff homer in the fourth. And wouldn't you know it, Smith hit a pair of home runs and drove in three runs playing as himself. He also went deep on behalf of teammate Trey Mancini twice, and once each for Anthony Santander and Chris Davis.

If you'd like to read a more detailed recap of Dwight Smith, Jr.'s successful gaming evening, Paul Folkemer has you covered at Camden Chat. If you want to live vicariously through Dwight himself, his next quartet of mini-games will take place on Thursday night, beginning at 9:00 Eastern.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Dylan Bundy, 2018 Topps Big League #380

This was a set I really liked. It was geared towards kids, with a lower price, a simple and colorful design, and a few fun features. For example, some great former players were peppered throughout the set, and there was a Ballpark Landmarks subset that included Oriole Park's own B&O Warehouse.

Speaking of the Warehouse, there have now been 28 seasons of baseball played at Camden Yards, and nobody has hit a home run that struck the edifice on the fly. It's certainly possible - 439 feet down the right field line - but Ken Griffey, Jr.'s moonshot in the 1993 Home Run Derby stands alone all these years later. If Dylan Bundy didn't serve one up in 2018, when he led the American League with an ignominious 41 homers allowed in 31 starts, maybe it's tougher than it seems.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Cal Ripken Jr., 2001 Fleer Cal Ripken Jr. Career Highlights #21

Cal Ripken, Jr. is in the news again this week, because that guy just can't stop hogging the limelight. Okay, call off your dogs, I swear I'm joking. In actuality, Junior joined Twitter on Tuesday. I wouldn't recommend doing such a thing myself, but his intentions were good: he's promoting the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation's "Strike Out Hunger" fundraiser, which is a partnership with Feeding America that will provide food for families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you want to follow Cal on social media, his username is @CalRipkenJr, oddly enough. He is not stingy with the doggie photos, and his golden doodle Nash is by all appearances a very good boy.

The same day that the Iron Man logged on to the Twitter hellscape, ESPN rebroadcast his record-breaking 2,131st consecutive game, seeing as how they had an opening in their schedule. Ripken claims that it was the first time he'd watched it start-to-finish since that landmark night of September 6, 1995. He told the Sports Junkies that he didn't want to mess up his own memories of it, which I can understand.“Once you start seeing things, you’re like, ‘Oh, that guy was on my team?’ Then you start looking up rosters.”

I mean, if I were Cal, I'd also probably try to forget that Manny Alexander was the other half of the double-play combo the day that I broke Lou Gehrig's record. Until you see the video footage, you can just keep fudging the timeline and pretend that it was Roberto Alomar.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Brian Burres, 2007 Upper Deck #3

Happy 39th birthday to Brian Burres, the second-best lefty pitcher to ever appear on an Erik Bedard card. Brian last appeared in the majors with the Pirates in 2011, but he didn't throw his last pitch in pro ball until 2016. Unbeknownst to me (at least until I rung it up at Baseball Reference just now), Burres plied his trade for three seasons with the Atlantic League's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. In 63 games (59 starts), he had a 22-20 record with a 3.34 ERA. His 1.35 WHIP was a bit less impressive, but he allowed only 21 home runs in 339.1 innings. It's just another reminder that even the major leaguers with the least remarkable resumes are still great athletes.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Chris Davis, 2015 Topps Allen and Ginter #170

Somebody at Topps saw a prototype of this card and said, YES. This is what I want. Do you know the creepy portraits where it looks like the eyes are following you? We've captured that. Chris Davis' baleful baby blues will bore a hole right through your soul. Print it!

Friday, April 3, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Bobby Grich, 1975 SSPC #388

As I mentioned in a recent post, I happened to find a copy of an old ABC “Monday Night Baseball” broadcast (complete with the original commercials!) on YouTube. It featured the Orioles hosting the AL West-leading Royals at Memorial Stadium on August 30, 1976. Warner Wolf and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who had just retired at the end of 1975, were the announcing team. Because I miss baseball just this much, I decided to watch the whole thing and time-stamp my observations. I did not look up the box score ahead of time, so I’m going in spoiler-free. Follow along if you so desire. Enjoy!

1:22 – Lineup introductions are handled by the players themselves, with the Kansas City starting ten (including the DH) parading on-camera one-by-one and awkwardly mumbling their name, position, and hometown. The highlight is the camera suddenly panning down from 5’11” second baseman White to 5’4”, 140-pound shortstop Freddie “the Flea” Patek.

2:57 – As the Orioles’ defense is shown warming up, Wolf mentions that Doug DeCinces, in his first full season in the majors, is starting at third as the heir apparent to Brooks Robinson. It’s wild to think that Brooksie was still hanging around at the time.

5:20 – Left fielder Jim Wohlford steps into the box as the first batter of the game, facing lefty Rudy May. The on-screen graphics show each batter’s age, hometown, and years of big league experience, as well as basic batting stats (AVG, HR, RBI). It’s a very different information set than we’re used to now.

5:58 – Wolf points out that Amos Otis completely smears away the right-handed batters’ box as he comes to the plate. No respect for the grounds crew!

7:16 –After Otis singles up the middle, George Brett comes to bat, carrying a .486 (17-for-35) average against the O’s. Ouch. Fortunately, he bounces into a force play at second base.

11:42 – Miller High Life ad: “If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer!”

14:17 – 35-year-old Tommy Harper is the DH and leadoff batter for Baltimore, and an on-screen graphic notes that the Birds are his eighth team (Reds, Indians, Pilots, Brewers, Red Sox, Angels, A’s, O’s). They’ll also be his last, as he bats .234/.318/.338 in just 46 games on the year.

15:42 – Reggie Jackson takes his first at-bat, receiving a smattering of boos from the sparse Monday night crowd that is noted on play-by-play. Reggie is quoted as saying that he doesn’t mind being booed, because “it means they’re paying attention to me”. That seems on-brand. He drops a single over the infield and promptly steals second base before Lee May strikes out to strand him there.

19:52 – Vintage commercial update: Bob Hope for Texaco Motor Oil, with “In the Summertime” by Mongo Jerry as the music accompaniment.

24:00 – There are a ton of invisible fans sitting in the yellow bleachers. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the Baltimore fans were practicing social distancing.

24:46 – Back-to-back doubles by Al Cowens and Frank White give KC an early lead.

25:52 – Bob Gibson claims that Patek’s response to being asked what it’s like being the smallest player in the major leagues is that “It’s better than being the smallest player in the minor leagues.” Can’t argue with that.

30:16 – Wild batting splits for Kenny Singleton: .204 righty, .288 lefty.

34:50 – It’s reported that the Royals call manager Whitey Herzog “Stein”, short for “Frankenstein”. That one’s new to me!

36:40 – With Kansas City eight games ahead of Oakland in the West and the Yankees 11.5 up on the Orioles, the ALCS seems like a foregone conclusion. It’s noted that the Royals took the season series from New York, 7-5. Of course, the Yanks would scrape by in five games in the postseason series (which was then best-of-five).

41:52 – Wohlford is caught stealing second base by O’s catcher Dave Duncan, who is playing out the last season of his 11-year MLB career. He should get into coaching or something.

43:28 – There’s an odd ad: Fred Lynn and Jim Rice urging youngsters to join the Navy.

47:15 – Since July 1, Duncan is 9-for-71 (.127)…make it 9-for-72, as he pops out. I’ve got a hunch why this was his last year.

48:58 – Mickey Mantle hawking an athlete’s foot treatment (NP-27). I guess a paycheck is a paycheck.

51:08 – It’s the always-fun May-to-May putout, as Rudy corrals a comebacker from league-leading hitter Hal McRae and Lee digs out a low throw at first base.

53:16 – John Mayberry is credited with 12 game-winning hits for the Royals. I had assumed that the oft-derided “GWRBI” statistic hadn’t come about until the 1980s.

54:58 – Bob Gibson claims to have been used as a pinch runner “lots of times”, until he got injured doing so and the practice was discontinued. His career splits do show that he scored 14 runs as a pinch runner.

1:01:28 – We see that Reggie has tied an American League record in 1976 with a six-game home run streak. As you may know, that record was broken in 1987 by Don Mattingly, who ended up tying Dale Long’s MLB record with homers in eight straight games (Ken Griffey, Jr. tied Mattingly in 1993). Reggie’s streak is still an Oriole record, tied by Chris Davis in 2012.

1:05:54 – The Birds are finally on the board in the bottom of the fourth, as Bobby Grich singles, Lee May doubles him to third base, and Singleton brings him home with a groundout. We’re tied 1-1.

1:10:45 – Incredible backhand in the hole by Mark Belanger, who guns it across the diamond to put out KC catcher Buck Martinez by several steps. He didn’t last 18 years in the majors with a .580 OPS for no reason.

1:15:14 – Just like that Kansas City takes the lead back, thanks to a two-out double by Wohlford and a seeing-eye single by Amos Otis. 2-1.

1:17:16 – As Dave Pagan warms up in the Oriole bullpen, we see Mike Cuellar (sans hat) shuffling around behind him.

1:18:14 – Good gravy. Whose idea was it to let Pete Rose sing in an Aqua Velva spot?

1:19:11 – A pregame interview with KC starting pitcher Andy Hassler is shown, discussing his 18-game losing streak, which spanned two seasons and wasn’t snapped until a few weeks prior to this game, shortly after he’d been traded from the Angels.

1:27:50 – Another pre-recorded segment, as Rudy May tells the story of tripping over his dog in the middle of the night and breaking BOTH arms. Man’s best friend, indeed.

1:30:11 – Some great curmudgeonly commentary from Gibson, as he retells the story of a Roberto Clemente comebacker that broke his leg, and somehow spins it into a defense of raising the mound back to its 1968 height. Then Warner Wolf mentions Gibson returning to pitch against Boston in the World Series, and needles the future Hall of Famer about giving up a home run to opposing starter Jose Santiago in Game One in Fenway Park. Bob shoots back, insisting it was a pop-up that sailed over the cozy fence in Boston’s home park. I can see why he’d be so salty, as that solo homer was all that kept Gibson from a complete game shutout.

1:37:30 – Leading off the bottom of the sixth, Harper draws the first walk of the game for either team.

1:39:32 – Grich blasts a double to the center field wall, scoring Harper with the tying run. 2-2. As Rick Dempsey would say, walks will kill you every time.

1:42:02 – Lee May booms another deep fly ball, caught by Otis. Grich (who had moved up on a Reggie Jackson grounder) tags from third and scores, giving the O’s a 3-2 lead. It’s Lee’s 84th RBI, tying him with the Yankees’ Chris Chambliss for the league lead.

1:56:04 – With DeCinces batting, Wolf talks about how he was almost traded to the Mets prior to the season for Rusty Staub. I’d never heard that, either!

2:02:26 – With one out in the bottom of the seventh, the Orioles finally chase Andy Hassler with a Paul Blair single. That moves DeCinces, who walked to lead off the frame, to second base. Mark Littell enters from the bullpen on…the cart!

2:07:00 – On Littell’s second pitch, DeCinces is thrown out at third base on an attempted double steal. Now you know why Earl Weaver didn’t like small-ball.

2:11:14 – Tony Muser, future manager of the Royals, enters the game for Baltimore at first base, replacing Lee May.

2:14:02 – As Warner Wolf notes, back-to-back flyouts to Ken Singleton mean that Rudy May has held KC’s two most dangerous hitters (Brett and McRae) to a combined 0-for-8, while giving up nine hits in all (UPDATE: 11 hits).

2:17:43 – May escapes the eighth inning, stranding two runners after Frank White hits a tapper to Grich. Moments earlier, White had been admonished by home plate umpire Joe Brinkman for having too much pine tar on his bat. Do you think George Brett was paying attention?

2:31:00 – Bob Gibson cracks that Cookie Rojas “has been 37 years old for about 37 years”, but the Royals’ pinch hitter gets the last laugh with a single. That’s 12 hits allowed by Rudy May in eight and one-third innings.

2:34:05 – Amos Otis gives the ball a ride, but Paul Blair barely moves before snagging it for the final out. O’s win 3-2 (box score and play-by-play), despite being outhit 12-5. Rudy May gets the complete game win to improve to 11-9 with a 4.01 ERA. Despite scattering those dozen hits, he didn’t walk a single batter. He also only had three strikeouts, so he kept the defense on their toes.

2:34:58 – Marvelous Marv Throneberry sighting! A Miller Lite commercial. That seems like a good place to end this.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, 2010 Topps #543

Ten years later, it's funny to look at this card and realize that Nick Markakis is still in the major leagues and Adam Jones is not. Amidst all of the upheaval of the past few years, the biggest blow to me as a fan was when the Orioles parted ways with AJ before the 2019 season. It was all the worse because there was no clean break; while Adam remained an unsigned free agent throughout the winter, new GM Mike Elias was careful not to say anything one way or the other about a potential reunion. It was up to the fans to read between the lines - at least until March 11, when Jones finally signed a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks. With a stroke of the pen, his 11 years as a Baltimore fixture came to an end. He left behind a legacy of five All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves, and a position of leadership in the clubhouse and the community.

I was rooting for Adam to rejuvenate his career in Arizona, and it looked promising in the early going. Through June 1, he was batting .283/.329/.516 with 12 homers and 37 RBI in 56 games. But in his final 81 games (66 starts), he slumped to .241/.300/.331 with 4 home runs and 30 RBI. His full-season numbers (.260 AVG, .728 OPS, 87 OPS+) were his worst since 2008. When factoring in his defensive metrics in right field, Jones finished with a -0.6 WAR, his first-ever season below replacement level. In December, the 34-year-old outfielder signed a two-year, $8 million deal with Japan's Orix Buffaloes.

Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Nick Markakis is somehow plugging along with the Braves, preparing to spend his sixth season in Atlanta when and if the season gets started. He's batted .284/.359/.403 in his half-decade in the National League, essentially swapping some of his already-modest home run numbers as an Oriole for more doubles. He's up to 2,355 career hits in 14 seasons overall, and his next two-base hit will make a nice round 500.

As we hover indefinitely on the verge of a 2020 MLB season, Baltimore's projected outfield is some combination of Dwight Smith, Jr., Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, and (pending his own health and the ongoing sad saga of Chris Davis at first base) Trey Mancini. Based on their collective potential and 2019 performances, it's actually one of the better segments of the Oriole roster. But a few years along, it's still strange not to see #10 and #21 in the center-right alley in Camden Yards.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Chris Fussell, 1999 Fleer Tradition #361

Yes, I know what you're thinking. It may have taken twelve years, but I finally got to Chris Fussell. The only thing I can recall about Chris Fussell without doing any research is that the Orioles traded him to Kansas City for Jeff Conine, which was a nifty little deal. Looking at this card, I can also tell you that he threw right-handed, and debuted in the majors in 1998. There, I've already tripled my knowledge!

So, what else is there to know about Chris Fussell? Well, his middle name is "Wren", he's from Oregon (a town in Ohio, not the state), and the O's drafted him out of high school in the ninth round of the June 1994 draft. He split the 1998 season between AA Bowie and AAA Rochester, ranking second in the organization with 135 strikeouts in 151.2 innings. He was the starting pitcher in his MLB debut against the Rangers on September 15. Things were looking good through five innings, with the Baltimore offense handing the 22-year-old a 5-0 lead. Fussell had struck out five hitters and the defense turned two double plays behind him, limiting the damage from three walks and a pair of singles. The first three Texas hitters reached in the sixth, which brought an end to the rookie's evening. Pete Smith and Arthur Rhodes conspired to allow the inherited runners to score, leaving Chris with a final line of three runs allowed in five innings. Still, the Birds clung to a one-run lead all the way until the ninth inning...when Armando Benitez served up a two-run homer to Ivan Rodriguez to blow the save and a potential win for Fussell. The young righty was hit harder in two subsequent appearances that season, finishing his Orioles career 0-1 with an 8.38 ERA.

After the April 1999 trade with the Royals, Fussell appeared in 37 games for K.C. over the next two years, racking up a 5-9 record and a 6.79 ERA. He had surgery in 2001 to remove bone spurs from his elbow, and never made it back to the big leagues after that. He did pitch in the minors and independent ball for another seven years, calling it quits after putting up a 6.39 ERA in 24 relief appearances for the Dodgers' AAA Las Vegas club in 2007.

Jeff Conine, on the other hand, earned 7.1 WAR (by Baseball-Reference's metric) in the better part of five seasons before an August 31, 2003 trade to the Marlins. So yes, that's a small-scale win for the O's.