Thursday, September 18, 2014

Oriole # 986- Christian Walker

The most recent Orioles debut surprised me somewhat, mainly due to how late it was happening in the season. Christian Walker was just called up to the O's after they clinched the AL East on Tuesday night. He had to be added to the 40 man roster and his service clock is starting now, so you know that the team must see something that they like in him. It also is fairly directly tied to Chris Davis's positive adderall test and suspension and the need for another first baseman on the roster. 

Christian had been working at the Orioles instructional league program in Sarasota for just this type of reason. Every year the O's send a group of 10-15ish minor league position players and pitchers to Sarasota to stay fresh in case any needs come up with the big league club after the minor league season ends at the beginning of September.

This Shorebirds signed card is the only autograph I have of his right now, but it works just fine for my collection, at least until I try to get one of my dad's custom O's cards signed. Christian has been included in a few minor league team sets over the years (2012 Ironbirds, 2013 Shorebirds, 2014 Baysox & Eastern League All-star set) and he seems to be a good signer. I saw him sign for multiple people at both Norfolk Tides games that I attended this year, but didn't have any unsigned cards of his at that point. Much to my dismay at this point. But one autograph is better than none!

Christian was drafted by the Orioles in the 4th round of the 2012 draft after a successful college career with the South Carolina Gamecocks. He made his professional debut with the short season A ball Ironbirds, and spent time at every ensuing level of the O's farm system. In 2013, he progressed from the lo A Shorebirds, to the hi A Keys, all the way to the AA Baysox in a single season. (Generally, jumping two levels in a single season is a good sign.) 2014 saw Christian start the year in Bowie before moving to AAA Norfolk mid-summer. He hit a combined 26 home-runs with 96 RBI this year, and yes, that was good enough to earn the call to Baltimore.

He made his major league and Orioles debut last night, September 17, and went 1-3 with a double in the game. He did enough to be the recipient of Adam Jones' post-game pie, and it was a very cool moment for the rookie. I have a feeling that we will be seeing more of Christian in the coming seasons in Baltimore. Good luck to him.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Oriole #985- Quintin Berry

Since I'm still waiting for my autographs to arrive for Orioles 983 & 984, I'm skipping to the 985th player to appear in a game today. That man is Quintin Berry.

Unlike the two guys I'm skipping, Quintin was thankfully with the team in Spring Training, so I had an autograph of his prepared to slide right into my collection. Once again, my Old Man's Oriole Card is right there with Quintin's first, and likely only, O's card. He was actually a pretty great signer in Sarasota, so I actually have a few of his autographs for trade as well. 

I showed off these autographs in a few posts back in March and April, and at the time, I mentioned that the Orioles might be able to use Quintin for his prowess on the basepaths, which is exactly what they have done so far. After a steal today, he is now 25-25 in stolen bases in his MLB career. Pretty impressive.

After playing for the Tigers and Red Sox in 2012 and '13 respectively, the O's signed him to a deal this past off-season. He had a good season at AAA Norfolk and definitely earned the promotion. He has appeared in five games for the Orioles so far, all as a defensive replacement or pinch runner, so that's pretty obviously his role with the team.

Oh, and he and Adam Jones are boys, as they attended Morse High School together in San Diego, and remain good friends. I imagine that factored in to his addition to the Oriole organization, but I'm all about it if he can help the team win a few games!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Oriole #982- Jimmy Paredes

There have been a handful of Orioles debuts, probably the last round for the 2014 season, this past week. I will cover them over the coming days, and hope to remain somewhat timely with my writing. But who ever really knows? I'm obviously pretty unpredictable.

I haven't had the chance to do much autographing at all during this season and I only got a single autograph at Wednesday's Orioles game, but it thankfully filled a hole in my collection as Jimmy Paredes signed and personalized this freshly minted old man card. (I'm not sure but it might say Ryaa, but it's close enough for me and still much preferred to any form of Brian/Bryan.) My dad had just given me this card as we walked into the game around 6:30 and it was signed by 7 which was the quickest turnaround that I think I've ever done with one of his awesome cards!

Jimmy is actually in his second stint with the Orioles system in 2014, as he was a "member" of the organization for just two days back in mid-February. In fact, he rode the waiver carousel for much of the offseason, being selected by the Marlins from the Astros on November 4th, the O's got him from the Marlins on February 15th, then the Royals plucked him from the O's on February 17th, and the Orioles finally got their guy back from KC on July 24th. He spent most of the following month with the AAA Tides, before being recalled to Baltimore on August 28th and appearing in his first game the following day. He is the 982nd player to appear in a game for the O's and has appeared in five games, all at third base, since his debut.

There have been times where he has really flashed the leather but he also has already made two errors. He has been strong at the plate so far, hitting .333 with a HR and 4 RBI over 18 ABs. Over his career he has struck out way too often but has only whiffed once thus far for the O's.

Jimmy has been around the MLB block as he made his debut with the Astros back in 2011 and appeared in 118 games for the team between '11-13. He made it into 9 games for the Royals this season before the Orioles re-acquired him, so Baltimore is his third big league squad. And for the record, he has struck out in about 30% of his MLB ABs to date.

With Manny Machado's season ending injury, I would guess that Paredes might have a chance to make a postseason roster as a late inning defensive replacement, as long as he can clean up his fielding game over the next month. The O's obviously see something they like with him since they have brought him into the season twice this year so who knows what the future may hold.

Thanks for signing my card, Jimmy!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Oriole #980 Andrew Miller, and #981 Cord Phelps

Well, what happened there? After posting pretty regularly for most of the year, this is my first post in nearly a month. And honestly, I don't expect things to get much less busy in my life as my wife and I are expecting our first child, a baby boy, in just under a month. So I will post when I can, but they will be few and far between.
It's kind of funny timing for me to slow down posting considering the Orioles have been playing so well. Most of the years I've been writing posts about the O's in August/September, the team was so out of contention it wasn't even funny. Now that they are in firm control of the AL East, I'm nearly non-existent. But, at least for now, I have been able to continue to watch most of their games, and it's certainly been a fun season to this point!

Also, strangely enough, I've actually been spending more time working with my cards lately as I continue to attempt to organize and pare down my collection in preparation for our little guy. But I'm sure that will come to a screeching halt soon enough too!

Anyway, today's post is highlighting the two players who have made their Orioles debuts since my last post.

First up is lefty relief pitcher Andrew Miller, who the O's acquired at the trade deadline from the Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. Miller was widely regarded as the top left-handed reliever available and the Birds did what they needed to do to make the deal happen.

I just pulled the trigger on a certified copy of his autograph on COMC, and it should arrive any day.

Since Miller was a former first-round pick by the Tigers, I was surprised the be able to pick up an autographed swatch card of his numbered of just 99 of his for a few dollars. His career as a starter never really took off but he has certainly found his niche as a reliever. He will likely only be an Oriole through the end of this season, and I've heard talk about his possibly sliding into the closer role for a team in 2015.

Not too surprisingly if you know him, my dad had this Old Man Card made the day after Miller's Orioles debut on August 1st and was trying to get it signed for me the very next day. I always really appreciate his help, and I hope to get this card signed soon enough, if I can find the time!

The next Orioles debut occurred on August 16th as Cord Phelps became the 881st player to appear in a game for the team. Luckily, Cord was with the team in Spring Training and I was ready for his debut! I briefly wrote about him in this post following my Florida trip, saying at the time that I had "an inkling that Cord Phelps might be the 2014 version of Russ Canzler, knocking on the big league door but never quite cracking the club." Looks like I wasn't right on that one!

Cord has previously played in some games for the Indians between 2011-13 so he isn't completely new to the big league scene. It seems like he is in a pinch-hitting defensive replacement role for the Birds and has only appeared in two games so far, but he is officially an Oriole!

I have a few extra of Cord's autograph, all obtained in-person, if anyone needs one for their collection. I actually just got his 2014 Tides card signed on my trip to Norfolk, not long before he was called up to Baltimore.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Back to 100%!

I just got back from my mini-vacation, part of which involved taking in a few games of the Orioles AAA affiliate Norfolk Tides, and I can happily report that my collection is now back up to containing 100% of Orioles autographs.

Ramon Ramirez was the only autograph that I really "needed" to get, and he signed for me before the first game that I attended. He didn't come out onto the field until the National Anthem was being sung but I called out to him immediately afterwards, and he was nice enough to come over to sign and personalize my card for me.

So with the addition of this card, I once again have an autograph of all 979 players who have appeared in a game for the Orioles. Thanks for signing Ramon! And thanks for the awesome Old Man Card to be signed, Dad!

I will have more to post about my trip next week, but this was certainly my favorite autograph of the trip!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gone Fishin'

See you all in a few days. I hope to have some new autographs when I get back!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Far From the Iron Man

My posting these days might, MIGHT, be able to be called sporadic, but I continue to try to show off at least a few new Orioles autographs each week. But I am a far cry from my all-time favorite Oriole, and former perennial All-Star, Cal Ripken Jr. 

I imagine that if Cal happened to be an Orioles autograph blogger, that he would somehow find a way to post once a day, every day, week in and week out, year after year, until his hands cramped up and he could blog no more. But I ain't Cal, so a few times a week is what you get!

My collection doesn't currently include an autograph of Cal personalized to me, but this Sal personalized autograph is somewhat close to a nickname that friends have called me over the years, and has been a part of my collection for probably twenty some years.

So while we can all strive to be more Cal-like in our various endeavors, most of us will never quite reach that apex. And that's just fine.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Earl Robinson & Don Lenhardt

Sadly, today's post brings back the return of Unpossible Autograph Friday. Until today, no former O's had passed away yet in 2014, and as far as I know, Paul Blair was the last former Oriole to pass, back around Christmas 2013.

This past week, two former Orioles players passed away, something that has happened very rarely over the years I've been following the Orioles. Outfielder Earl Robinson died on Friday, July 4, and utility man Don Lenhardt passed away on Wednesday, July 9. I haven't written much about either player on my site so I will try to give them each a decent write-up today.

Earl Robinson played in four MLB seasons between 1958-64; he debuted with the Dodgers in 1958 and played eight games with them, but his remaining 162 big league appearances were all with the Orioles. He hit .268 with 12 HR over 421 Major League at-bats.

While in college at Cal, he starred in baseball and basketball and went on to become a basketball coach after his baseball career ended. He went on to become a college professor and teacher, and was very active in various civic activities in the Oakland area. He was enshrined in both the Cal Hall of Fame and the Pac-10 Hall of Honor for his many achievements over the years.

Earl had been experiencing health problems in recent years, and apparently had a few cardiac events in 2013 that he never fully recovered from. Not knowing this until now, I had actually sent Earl a TTM request earlier this year, but it was returned to sender. I obtained this autograph online about five years ago.

Don Lenhardt played in five MLB seasons from 1950-54 for the St. Louis Browns, White Sox, Red Sox, Tigers, and Orioles. He spent the majority of his career with the Browns/Orioles franchise, as 298 of his 481 MLB games were spent with them. Don hit .271 with 61 homers, and 239 RBI over his time in the bigs. He likely would have had a longer MLB career but had joined the Navy during WWII, thus delaying his time in professional baseball. After his playing career ended, Don served as the Red Sox' Midwest area scout for over 40 years, having retired from that role in 2002.

One interesting story that I read about him is how he earned the nickname "Footsie" from teammates due to his issues finding shoes that fit him properly. However, I don't see a note about whether he had abnormally large or small feet, so that part remains a mystery.

I have shown this card on my site one other time, way back in my first month of blogging in 2009. Don was one of the first people I had sent a TTM request to, and he was kind enough to sign this and send it back to me in just eight days. It looks like Don was still signing for fans as recently as late 2013, so he seems to have really cared about the people who wrote to him.

RIP Earl & Don. The Orioles family will miss you!

*To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is not very smart, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible." 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The 2014 Orioles Walk-Up Song Project- Update #4

I would like to keep updating this list over the course of the season, but I haven't been attending as many games lately. So I do have a few additional things to add to this list. Since the last update, I've heard songs for  Kevin Gausman, Caleb Joseph, and Manny Machado. It looks like the Orioles website for walk-up songs has only added Nick Hundley's information since my last post, but I was able to add him because of that. 

The O's site is so strange in that it adds info for a guy like Hundley, but not the many other players who are now playing/have played for the O's like Brad Brach, Caleb Joseph, Kevin Gausman, Preston Guilmet, Evan Meek, etc. but they still list songs for Johan Santana, who will probably never pitch for the O's, Matt Wieters, who is out for the year, and Steve Lombardozzi, who might not make it back to Baltimore. Oh well.

Here are the details on my tracking of O's walk-up songs if you need it:
(This walk-up song project is something that I've enjoyed doing this the past three years (201320122011), although I admitted slacked off on it last year. But I am once again going to try to keep track of the songs that the Orioles players use as their walk-up/warm-up music. I really stayed on top of the songs in 2011, and updated the list six times throughout that year. In both 2012 & 2013, I only wrote the one, original post, but the funny thing is that I continued to take notes on the songs used throughout the season, and then just never got around to writing posts about the updates. Since this list is something that changes any time a player is added to the roster, or they want to change things around, the list is fluid, but here is what I have at this point in the season.) 

If anyone has any information to add or update from what's listed below, please let me know!)

Note-some YouTube links might contain explicit lyrics, if you're offended by that sort of thing.

Brad Brach- 
no info on site or from game
Zach Britton- "Seven Nation Army" The White Stripes (O's site incorrect )
Wei-Yin Chen"Meng Xiang Qi Dong" Jay Chou (O's site incorrect)
Steve Clevenger- No song yet
Nelson Cruz- "Para Ti" Juan Luis Guerra (O's site confirmed)
Chris Davis"The Moment We Come Alive" Red, "I Get Wicked" Thousand Foot Krutch 
Julio DePaula-  No info on site or from game
Ryan Flaherty"Bottoms Up" Brantley Gilbert (O's site confirmed)
Kevin Gausman- "Do I Wanna Know" Arctic Monkeys
Miguel Gonzalez- "Return of the Mack" Mark Morrison (O's site confirmed)
Preston Guilmet- No info on site or from game
J.J. Hardy"Flower" Moby (Hasn't changed it once in three years, O's site confirmed)
Nick Hundley- "Shine" Collective Soul (per O's site)
Tommy Hunter- "Welcome Home" Coheed and Cambria (O's site confirmed)
Ubaldo Jimenez- "Rie Y Llora" Celia Cruz (O's site confirmed
Adam Jones- "Lose My Mind" Young Jeezy ft. Plies; "Ballin Out" French Montana ft. Diddy & Jeremih; "Club On Smash" Future; "California Love" 2Pac
 (O's site partially correct)
Caleb Joseph- "Duck Blind" Dallas Davidson
Steve Lombardozzi- "Barefoot Blue Jean Night"  Jake Owen (per O's site)
David Lough- "Breathe" Fabolous (O's site incorrect)
Manny Machado- "Vivir Mi Vida" Marc Antony
Nick Markakis"Deliverance" Bubba Sparxx (Probably his fourth or fifth year with this one, O's site confirmed)
Brian Matusz- "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" Jimi Hendrix (O's site confirms)

Steve McFarland- no info on site or from game
Evan Meek- Possibly either "Master of Puppets" Metallica or "All Summer Long" Kid Rock
Bud Norris- "Who Gon Stop Me" Jay-Z ft. Kanye West (O's site confirmed)
Darren O'Day"Thickfreakness" The Black Keys (Also third year using this song, O's site confirmed
Troy Patton-"Glitter" Ghostland Observatory
Steve Pearce- "We Own It" 2 Chainz & Wiz Khalifa
Ramon Ramirez-  No info on site or from game
Jonathan Schoop- "Go Get It" T.I. (O's site confirmed)
Josh Stinson- "Hell On Wheels" Brantley Gilbert (O's site confirmed)
Chris Tillman"Kick It In the Sticks" Brantley Gilbert (Fourth year using it, O's site confirmed)
Ryan Webb- "Hysteria" Muse (O's site confirmed)

Jemile Weeks- No info on site or from game
Matt Wieters"Raised On It" Sam Hunt (O's site confirmed)
Delmon Young- "We Dem Boyz" Chinx & French Montana & "Zip & A Double Cup" Juicy J, 2 Chainz, & The Joker (O's site partially correct)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Who, who, Julio? (DePaula)

Wow, did the Orioles ever pull one over on me yesterday. For the first time in the past six or seven years, the team called up a player whose name I didn't recognize and had no knowledge that he was even in their farm system. Among my friends I'm the go-to Orioles guy, and when a buddy called to ask me about Julio DePaula, I had nothing. It was a unique surprise to be caught so off-guard by a player on my team.

Well, for starters, here's a fairly recent picture of Julio that I found online, and it somewhat encapsulates why I hadn't heard of him or known he was in the O's system. The Orioles just signed Julio on June 26th, and he had been a member of the Atlantic League's York Revolution. Former O's pitcher Mark Hendrickson is also a member of that team and recommended DePaula to the Orioles recently. Apparently they liked what they saw, but I simply missed the note about the minor league transaction. And I certainly had no reason to think that Julio would have his contract selected just 11 days later.

DePaula does have a little MLB experience as he appeared in 16 games for the Twins in 2007, and the results weren't great. He had an 8.55 ERA and an 0-1 record over his time in Minnesota. From the 2010 season until signing with the Orioles he had pitched exclusively outside of the US professional leagues, bouncing from Korea to the American Association to the Mexican League and eventually the Atlantic League.

Julio's addition to the Orioles was more a matter of circumstance than his being the best player they could bring up. They needed a bullpen arm, and the AA Bowie Baysox, with whom he had been pitching, were playing in Harrisburg, PA, which is definitely closer to DC than Norfolk. So Julio got the call. He had appeared in just three games for the Baysox so far, with 6.1 IP, 3 hits, 3 BB, and 8 K, along with a save. So he's been good, but it's still a surprising move.

Julio didn't appear in last night's game, and in all likelihood will be sent back to Bowie today to make room for Bud Norris, but man is it hard to keep up with these things. And since he was added to the O's 40 man roster, I wouldn't be surprised to see him back at some point in the near future. So I better work on getting his autograph in the meantime!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Oriole #75- Angie Dagres

Almost exactly five years ago, I very briefly wrote about Angie Dagres. Not that there is a ton to say about him from a baseball perspective, as he appeared in just eight games for the Orioles during the 1955 season. But since he was nice enough to sign and personalize my recent TTM request, I figured I would dig a little deeper about his time in baseball.

Angie was one of the bonus babies the Orioles signed in 1955, and while I still don't exactly understand the process completely, more or less you could sign a handful of amateur players for a large signing fee with the stipulation that they had to immediately join the MLB club. It was clearly not a good idea and I think the process was only used in a single season before being changed. Essentially, he was signed right out of college and was on the field the same day he signed. Can you imagine if that's how the MLB draft was done these days?!?

So Angie signed with the Orioles and made his debut for the team on September 11, 1955 to become the 75th player to appear in a game for the Orioles. Over the following two weeks, he went on to appear in a total of eight games for the O's, and had four hits over fifteen at-bats. Apparently, Angie had some attitude problems, from what I read "uncoachable" seems like a good way to describe him, which led to his demotion to the minors in 1956. That only further soured his attitude and he apparently also began to drink too much, a combination of which kept him from ever returning to the Majors. After seven seasons in the minors, Angie was out of baseball by 1962.

The Baltimore Sun caught up with him in 2010 for a more in-depth article about him if you want to learn any more about him.

Thanks for signing Angie, and at least you had a cup of coffee for the O's!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Oriole #979- Ramon Ramirez

Well, I was caught off-guard by another Orioles debut last night as right-handed relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez had his contract selected from AAA Norfolk and later appeared in the game for the Orioles, officially becoming the 979th player in the franchise's history. He pitched the ninth inning as the Birds had a comfortable 7-1 lead over the Rangers and walked one batter while striking out two to finish off the win.

Ramon signed a minor league deal with the Orioles on May 31st after being released from the Mariners' AAA affiliate. He pitched in five games for the Tides, and had a 1-0 record with a 14/0 K/BB ratio over 8 IP. I knew he was pitching well, but I figured that he was mostly a AAA depth kind of player since he wasn't on the 40 man roster. But I was mistaken, and now I need to track down an autograph of his for my collection. My dad is working on an Orioles OMC, but in the meantime, I checked out the availability of other autographs of his for sale online, and unfortunately, many of his cards picture him as a member of the Yankees or Red Sox. He does have a handful of cards that picture him as a member of the Rockies, and at one with the Mets, so hopefully I can find a signed copy of one of them so I don't have to sully my collection with a Yanks or Sawx card. 

Ramon is long-time MLB veteran and the Orioles are the sixth team he has played for in the Bigs. He made his debut for the Rockies in 2006 and has also since pitched for the Royals, Red Sox, Giants and Mets, and has pitched in a total of 424 MLB games with a 23-21 record and a 3.42 ERA. 

Good luck with the Orioles, Ramon!