Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, 2019 Topps #441

I wonder when this stadium will be full again. At the rate we're going, it certainly doesn't look like it will even host baseball games without fans in 2020. You can thank the billionaire owners for that one.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Yovani Gallardo, 2016 Topps Stadium Club #153

Man, one look at Yovani Gallardo's weary, lightless eyes and flat grimace tells you just how excited he was to be in Baltimore. Maybe it had something to do with waiting until the end of February to get a contract - one that came in one year and several million dollars lighter after the famously unforgiving team physical raised some red flags. Or perhaps he realized that pitching in the American League East wasn't shaping up to be a beneficial career move. It's also possible that he stepped in his dog's water bowl on the way out the door that morning. We've all been there, right?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Chris Davis, 2017 Topps Fire #113

As I continue searching for ways to fill the void left in my everyday life without baseball, and to keep my housebound preschooler from climbing the walls, I have discovered the Orioles Digital Kids' Corner. Once a week, the team's official YouTube account is updated with a video of a current team member reading a bedtime story to their children. A few days ago, we watched Chris Davis read "The Wonderful Things You Will Be" to his three young daughters. It's an endearing glimpse into the personal lives of these guys. Though if I'm being honest, it also soothes my ego a bit to know that while I wouldn't be able to hit a 95 mph fastball if you gave me a few million swings at it, I'm a much more dynamic narrator than most of the clubhouse.

Seriously. You should hear my Grover voice. (I also do a mean Cookie Monster.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Brian Sackinsky, 1995 Bowman #8

Hey, whaddaya know? The last time I featured former second round draft pick Brian Sackinsky on this blog, I said it would be a long while before he made his way back onto these digital pages. As it turns out, that was a week shy of ten years ago. Two moves, one marriage, one child, and one pandemic ago. It was also three postseason trips ago for the O's. If I could travel a decade back in time and tell my 27-year-old self  what the future would bring, that last item may have seemed even more implausible than the rest. I would also probably try to warn that young guy about one or two things that were coming in 2016.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Sam Bowens, 1965 Topps #188

On this date in 1964, Sam Bowens had a very memorable game. The Orioles were hosting the Twins on a Friday night, and what looked like a pitcher's duel on paper never materialized. Minnesota jumped all over Steve Barber with four first-inning runs on five hits, capped by a two-run double from catcher Earl Battey. The O's immediately cut that lead in half, as Jackie Brandt delivered a two-RBI single off of Jim Kaat in the bottom of the first. Bowens hit a solo homer the following inning, but Barber gave the run back in the top of the third when Harmon Killebrew drove in Vic Power with a single. Brandt scored on a wild pitch in the fifth, making it 5-4 Twins. The bullpens took command for a while, as Wes Stock and Dick Hall combined for five shutout innings of relief for Baltimore. Gerry Arrigo replaced Kaat to start the sixth, and was still on the mound as the Birds took their last swings in the home ninth. Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell each struck out, leaving it all up to Bowens. The rookie right fielder belted an Arrigo offering over the left field fence for the game-tying home run, his second of the game and third extra-base hit overall (he'd also doubled in the fourth inning). Bill Fischer relieved Arrigo for the Twins, but had a short and unsatisfying night of work: O's catcher John Orsino gave the Memorial Stadium crowd a thrill with a walkoff four-bagger, likewise to left field. Orioles win, 6-5, improving to 21-12 and maintaining their half-game lead atop the American League.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn #4

And so we end this week's bizarre mini-series the only way we possibly could: with Cal Ripken giving us a come-hither glance and offering up his hotel rewards card. At least it's not his room key, right?

Okay, I've had a lot of fun at the expense of Junior and the Holiday Inn over the past few days. In the interest of fairness and full disclosure, I do have to let you know that my sister-in-law works for Choice Hotels. There, now I feel better.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn #2

This is it: the silliest card in the prestigious four-card mini-set. I laughed out loud when I first saw it on Friday afternoon, and for that reason alone, I tip my cap to Max. How do you convince a first-ballot Hall of Famer like Cal Ripken, Jr. to pose with two armfuls of pillows and such a goony, slack-jawed expression on his face? Somebody in an advertising company truly earned their keep with this.

Have you ever even heard the phrase "Pillow Menu" before? Oh, and just wait for the tag line on the back:

"After 2,632 games in a row - I deserve a choice of pillows."

Yeah, you tell 'em, Cal! You will not be denied the pillow of your preferred size and/or firmness, like some common Billy!

I don't know where we can possibly go from here, but the promo set MUST CONTINUE. Until tomorrow...

Monday, May 18, 2020

Brooks Robinson, 1992 Ziploc #5

Last night I promised more goofy cards featuring Cal Ripken hawking Holiday Inn. However, I put those plans on hold when I realized that today was Brooks Robinson's 83rd birthday. I find myself looking for silver linings more than ever right now, and every day that Brooks Robinson is with us, the world really is a better place for it. You'd be hard pressed to find someone with an unkind word to say about Brooksie.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2007 Upper Deck Holiday Inn #1

Max really outdid himself by sending me the oddest of oddball sets. This is the first of four cards, all of them featuring a balder, heavier, 46-year-old Iron Man awkwardly shilling for the Holiday Inn. But hey, now I know that you can listen to MLB games for free when you stay at a Holiday Inn...or at least, that was the case 13 years ago. Oh, and if you don't think I'm entering the code on the card back to see if I can win a trip to the 2007 World Series...even though I recall it being kind of a snooze.

P. S.: Guess what I'm posting for the next three days.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Duane Pillette, 1955 Bowman #244

Mail Day! By gum, it's been a while. I'm not the only old-timer who's returned to card blogging while housebound. Earlier this week, Max of the Starting Nine blog touched base to let me know that he had some odds n' sods to send my way. I jumped at the offer, and today a messy mix of stuff (Max's words, not mine) arrived by post. My absolute favorite card in the bundle was this 1955 Bowman card of Duane Pillette, the ace starter of the inaugural Oriole squad. There wasn't stiff competition for that title, as the card back notes that his team-best record was 10-14. Still, that's a .417 win percentage for a team that only won 35% of their games overall. His 3.12 earned run average (115 ERA+) was 12th best in the American League, to boot. There were several other cards in Max's package that I can't wait to share with you, so stay tuned.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Jeff Robinson, 1992 Score #186

Looking at Jeff Robinson's right arm, contorted with his palm facing outward, the muscles in his forearm strained and taut, I'm thinking again about just how abnormal the act of pitching a baseball is. As if to underscore this point, the text on the card back mentions a circulatory problem in his fingers that interrupted his sophomore season, back in 1988 with Detroit. That year, he was 13-6 with a 2.98 ERA (128 ERA+) and six complete games, but his 24th and final outing of the season came on August 23. He didn't come close to matching those numbers again, and battled an assortment of maladies over the next two seasons, most notably a stress fracture in his right forearm in 1990. After passing through three organizations in 1992 (Texas, Pittsburgh, and back to Detroit), he was out of baseball by age 31. Sadly, he passed away in October 2014 after suffering from undisclosed health issues.


Friday, May 8, 2020

Vintage Fridays: Mike Adamson and Roger Freed, 1971 Topps #362

Rookies? Yes. Stars? Not so much. Mike Adamson had the rare honor of being drafted in the first round twice: 18th overall by the Phillies in 1965 out of high school, and first overall by the Orioles in the secondary phase of the 1967 draft after a stopover at USC. Within a month of the draft, he debuted in Baltimore, but got battered in three appearances and was sent to Rochester. That was the pattern again in 1968 and 1969 - success at AAA, and rough sledding in brief stints in the majors. After posting a 4.36 ERA and 1.44 WHIP while splitting 1970 between starting and relieving duties with the Red Wings, he really backslid in 1971, allowing 102 hits in 74 innings in stops at Rochester, AA Dallas-Fort Worth, and Milwaukee's AAA Evansville club. Having put up a 7.91 ERA that season, Adamson walked away from pro baseball at age 24.

Roger Freed's stock was high entering the 1971 season. As part of a loaded Rochester squad that included Don Baylor and Bobby Grich, Freed was the 1970 Player of the Year for the International League. He earned those honors with a .334/.427/.561 triple slash, 24 home runs, and a league-best 130 RBI. The O's rewarded Freed with a September callup, and he saw action in four games, collecting two hits and three walks in 17 trips to the plate. Those would be his only four games as an Oriole, with his path to the majors blocked by Frank Robinson, Don Buford, Paul Blair, Merv Rettenmund, and Baylor. That December, the Birds dealt him to the Phillies for Grant Jackson and a pair of reserve outfielders. Freed scuffled in two seasons in Philadelphia, batting .222/.321/.335 with a dozen homers and 55 RBI in 191 games. He spent the rest of his career as a journeyman, passing through the Indians, Reds, Expos, and Cardinals organizations, and even spending 1975 in Monterrey, Mexico. He briefly found a role in St. Louis as a pinch hitter and backup first baseman to Keith Hernandez. In 95 plate appearances in 1977, he batted .398/.463/.627, and was 9-for-23 off the bench. Roger's overall performance in 1978 was less impressive (.239/.297/.370 in 101 PA), but he excelled again in a pinch (11-for-29 as a PH). Freed passed away in 1996 at age 49 due to a heart condition.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Gregg Olson, 1992 Studio #128

YouTube continues to be my baseball lifeline in 2020. Today's special took me back to July 11, 1990, as the Orioles hosted the Royals for an ESPN Wednesday Night Baseball telecast. It was an odd one-game series, wedged in after the All-Star Break to make up one of the games lost in the brief lockout at the beginning of the season. The broadcast team was a fresh-faced Gary Thorne, Norm Hitzges, and (ugh) Mike Lupica. Thankfully, Lupica was the third man, and didn't talk as much as you might fear. If you're familiar with Gary Thorne's work, you won't be surprised that he wryly referred to the game as a "one-night stand". Though there's an inning or so missing near the beginning, this was a surprisingly fun little midseason game between two scuffling clubs. George Brett slugged three doubles for Kansas City, one of them marking his 2,600th career hit. Bo Jackson (pre-traumatic hip injury) made an incredible sprinting catch in center field to deny Joe Orsulak, with his momentum causing him to literally run up the outfield fence in three steps. If you don't feel like watching two-and-a-quarter hours of a 30-year-old VHS transfer, skip to 31:20 for that play.

Things didn't look good for the O's early in this game, as a Randy Milligan error at first base opened the floodgates in the top of the third. In the blink of an eye, a 2-0 lead turned into a 5-2 deficit. Bob Milacki couldn't make it through the inning, as KC strung together five straight two-out hits off of Milacki and reliever Brian Holton. But the rest of the Baltimore bullpen held the line, with Ben McDonald (in his ninth career game), C*rt Sch*ll*ng, Mark Williamson, and Gregg Olson combining for six scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Oriole bats clawed back with three runs in the home half of the fourth to tie it, but the score remained deadlocked until the bottom of the seventh. Facing Maryland native Steve Farr, the Birds played a bit of small ball, turning four singles and a Brad Komminsk sac bunt into two runs. Orsulak had the go-ahead knock, and Milligan provided the insurance run. Manager Frank Robinson probably felt secure handing the ball to Olson with a 7-5 lead, but the Otter made it interesting by loading the bases in the ninth. He did strike out the side in the midst of all of that drama, with third base umpire Don Denkinger ringing up Willie Wilson on a borderline check swing to end the game. It was the 18th save of the year for Olson, and he preserved the first career win for Schilling, who retired all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings. There would be 215 more W's for Schilling by the time he hung 'em up in 2007, but this relief appearance marked his only victory in orange and black. No matter how odious Curt may be as a person, it is noteworthy that this particular game is available to watch online.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Wayne Gross, 1986 Topps #173

I hope everyone is continuing to find ways to take care of yourselves (mentally and physically) and stay connected to loved ones as we creep up on two months of stay-at-home efforts. We had a very good weekend on those fronts, and the beautiful weather here in Baltimore helped a lot.

Friday marked seven years since I proposed to Janet, and seven years since she said yes. (Spoiler alert!) In our ongoing effort to support local business, I ordered some festive beverages from DuClaw Brewing and a birthday cake-flavored ice cream pie from the Charmery, all for curbside pickup. After dinner and dessert, we put Finn to bed and dialed in to a Zoom call with more than a dozen friends from my college theatre department. We came together to read and act out a series of thirty short - two minutes on average - comedic scenes that we'd originally performed as undergrads back in the early 2000s. We had a blast, and spent a few hours afterward reminiscing over drinks. The plan is to do it again soon with a more extensive cast. In the meantime, I'll try to figure out how it's possible that I went away to college TWENTY years ago.

Saturday we took a picnic lunch to a nearby park, and then let the little man splash around in the creek until it was time to head home. Later that evening, Janet had a video chat with three of her oldest friends, and we played some online party games with them.

As for Sunday, well...I spent most of the afternoon attacking the jungle grass on the far side of our property with a weed whacker. So that wasn't fun, but I got some fresh air and sun and finally made a dent in the Effectively Wild podcasts that have been piling up since my daily commute disappeared. Plus, we still had some ice cream pie left for dessert.

Today, it was back to the teleworking grind, but our "new normal" weekend filled my tank for a while. And my latest old ballgame discovery on YouTube helped me pass a couple hours: an HTS broadcast of an Athletics at Orioles ballgame from June 2, 1985. I won't spoil the outcome, but I will say that Wayne Gross played a surprisingly prominent role.