Sunday, November 29, 2009

Unpossible Autograph: Billy Klaus

Billy Klaus 1959-1960 (d. 06)

Billy was known more for his glove than his bat as a shortstop and third baseman over his ten seasons in the Majors. He started his career on a high note by having his best season at the plate during his rookie campaign for the 1955 Red Sox. He came in second place for the Rookie of the Year award behind Cleveland's Herb Score and also received some MVP votes for his effort that season.

Billy spent the '59-60 seasons with the Orioles as their utility infielder and played second, third and short for the Birds.

After Billy retired from baseball he started a painting contracting business and also owned and operated an antiques store. He died of lung cancer in Sarasota, Florida on December 3, 2006.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Allan Ramirez Joins the Collection

Allan Ramirez 1983

I have to thank my dad for this one. He is collecting the 1983 World Series Orioles team and came across an extra copy of Allan's auto and sent one my way. Needless to say, I was excited to add another player to my collection.

Allan was drafted three times; 1975 Phillies 23rd round, 1978 Rangers 10th round, and 1979 Orioles 5th round, who he finally signed with. So there was obviously some demand for his services. Strangely enough, his Major League career lasted all of 11 games for the '83 Orioles. He made his debut on June 8th and pitched in his last game on September 13th. He went 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA in those 11 games, 10 of which were starts. And then that was it.

His stats were decent that year so I'm not sure how he didn't latch on with anyone in 1984. I couldn't find anything about it but I can speculate that it was either due to injury or a loss of interest in baseball.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Brief Pre-Thanksgiving Suggestion for the Orioles

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I hope that you all eat so much turkey that your posts are tainted with Tryptophan. But seriously, have a great holiday with your family and friends.

I figured it was important to suggest a former backup catcher for the O's since they are signing the likes of Michel Hernandez and Craig Tatum. So I present Gustavo Molina.

Gustavo Molina 2007

While Gustavo isn't an actual member of the Molina catching family, he certainly should be since he is a catcher with that lucky last name. He caught seven games for the Orioles in September of 2007. Six of those seven games were Orioles losses. Nuff said. Or is it? The only complete game he caught was the game they won. Eh, I don't think it means anything.

He spent the 2009 season with the Nationals' AAA club, the Syracuse Chiefs. I sent Gustavo an Orioles card TTM but haven't yet received it back. I would like it to replace this White Sox card so I might try to track him down again next season. And I find it very strange that a backup/third string catcher has a card that features him in an Orioles uniform while a pitcher like Jamie Walker who spent three seasons here never had one.

Oh, and I just have to finish with this...Kalina Molina! (My girlfriend's first name rhymes with Molina, so we also joke she should marry a Molina to get a rhyming name.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Congratulations Albert

While I don't often write about other players or teams unless they somehow tie in with the Orioles, I have to offer my congratulations to my favorite non-Oriole, Albert Pujols, on unanimously winning his third NL MVP award today. He is truly an awesome player that I was very happy to get to see play for the first time in person at a Nats game this season. And Albert didn't disappoint. He only went 3-4 with a HR and a double. Truly amazing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tike Redman Has a Really Cool Name

Tike Redman 2007

Now, THIS guy's name is friggin' awesome. I know that Tike isn't his real name but it's what he is known by and you are bound to develop a cool nickname when your real name is Julian...

I believe that I also owe Kalina an apology on this one. Shortly after Tike was called up from Norfolk, I insisted that his last name was Redmond and that I remembered that from his time with the Pirates. She was correct, as usual. But to this day, I still call him Tike Redmond to be funny. Hilarious, right?

Tike was one of my favorite players on the team after he was called up in late 2007. Not that there were lots of good choices besides the regular fan favorites, but I digress. Tike started the '07 season with my de-facto Atlantic League team, the York Revolution. I went to college at York, before the Rev were in town, and I have yet to get to a game there through three seasons of their existence. Next summer I swear I will make it. Again, I'm off-topic though.

The O's signed Tike about a week into the season and he spent the next few months in Norfolk. Tike was called up to Baltimore on August 9th and became the everyday centerfielder through the end of the season. He played well for the Orioles and finished the season with a .318 batting average, nine doubles, and 23 runs in 40 games.

That was Tike's last Major League action to date. He couldn't make the team out of spring training in 2008 and spent the entire season with Norfolk before being released at the end of the season. He split 2009 between the Newark Bears of the Atlantic League and the Brewers' AAA affiliiate, the Nashville Sounds.

Tike is another guy who doesn't sign well TTM and I only have one Tides card of his so this card I got in a SCN trade works for my collection. He has been in and out of the independent Atlantic League over the years so maybe I will be able to catch up with him there at some point...until then, Mr. Redmond.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

TTM Success: Mike Fiore

Mike Fiore 1968

Mike's time with the Orioles was extremely brief; I'm talking six games, 17 at-bats, two runs, one hit short. I promise I won't be mad if you don't remember him, since I didn't know a single thing about him either before coming across his Crown card and then sending it off to get signed.

Interestingly enough, if you checked out my post about Joe Borowski yesterday, you will notice some similiarities regarding their time with the O's. Both Mike & Joe began their career with the Orioles and appeared in only six games for the black & orange. Weird, right?

The reason that Mike's Orioles tenure was so short is that the Royals selected him with the 17th pick of the 1968 expansion draft. He went on to hit the first HR in Kansas City Royals history in the team's fifth game on April 13, 1969. That's a pretty cool thing to do to get yourself in the record books!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Since the O's Need a New Closer

Joe Borowski 1995

Here is a former Oriole who was at times one of the best closers of his day. But, I am not actually suggesting the O's pursue him this offseason for three reasons. One, because his ERA towards the end of his career was quite high. Two, because his career numbers show him as a very similar pitcher to Jorge Julio. And three, because he retired before the 2009 season. What's that? You think reason three should've been reason one? Eh, whatever.

I have a '94 or '95 Baysox card of his that I would love to get signed since he doesn't have any Orioles cards but this Cubs card I got in a SCN trade works for now.

Joe B. got his first taste of the Majors for the '95 Orioles. He appeared in 6 games and had a 1.23 ERA while striking out three in 7.1 innings. He also walked four, showing an early lack of command. The Birds traded him with Rachaad Stewart (?never heard of this minor league guy?) to the Braves for Kent Mercker on 12-17-95 closing the book on his time with the O's.

Overall, Joe pitched for seven different teams over his 12 seasons in the Majors and led the AL with 45 saves in 2007 while pitching for the Indians. He was the first pitcher to lead his league in saves while having an ERA over 5.00 so it's not that things went smoothly, but they worked out in the end!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


I have been putting this off for a long time as I have a well-documented dislike of this guy, but he was an Oriole so here it is. I'm not going to write much about him since that might be misinterpreted as putting forth some effort, something that he refused to do for the Orioles. And I sure as hell will not be blocking the plate! You know what I'm talking about...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TTM Success-Whitey Herzog

Whitey "the White Rat" Herzog 1961-62

This post is partially inspired by Kevin at the incomparable Orioles Card "O" the Day blog. He did a post on Whitey a week or so ago which was inspired by Whitey's placement on the Hall of Fame Veteran's Committee induction ballot. He was also listed on the ballot in 2007 but narrowly missed being elected. So I'm hoping that Whitey is elected this time around even though I know it won't be for his time with the Orioles, but it still would be another former O to get into the Hall!

Since I don't want to copy all of the information in Kevin's post, I will focus on "the White Rat's" time on the Orioles. He appeared in 212 games over the '61-62 seasons and played mostly right field over that time. Whitey also played left field and came off the bench as a pinch hitter multiple times; his numbers were good if not outstanding. His time with the Birds was towards the end of his career and he only played one more season before turning his attention towards player development and managing. Whitey summed up his baseball career by saying that "Baseball has been good to me since I quit trying to play it."

If Whitey is elected to the HOF, it would be due to his skills as a manager and he'll likely wear a Cardinals hat on his plaque. He managed in the Majors for 18 seasons, mostly with the Cardinals and the Royals, and won three National League pennants and one World Series title, all with the Cardinals. He perfected a style of play that focused on pitching, speed, and defense which was affectionately called "Whiteyball". He also put a lot of stock into players who had a high on-base percentages, years before this became the "Moneyball" tactic that most teams now prefer to use.

Good luck Whitey! I hope the next time I go to the HOF I can see your plaque.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This Guy Has a Cool Name

Ramon Nivar 2005

Say it with me now....Ramon Nivar. Try rolling the r's with a Spanish flair. Isn't it fun? I really enjoy Ramon's name for whatever reason. I also seem to remember his career for more than what it seems to have been. Between 2003-05 Ramon only appeared in 42 games with the Rangers and the O's. He hasn't appeared in a Major League game since his seven game stint with the Birds in 2005. Where have you gone Ramon Nivar?

Turns out that he has kicked around the Minor Leagues for the Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers and a few independent leagues since his time with the Orioles. In an interesting O's tie-in, Ramon played for the Chattanooga Lookouts, the Dodgers' AA affiliate, this past season with Josh Bell before Bell came to the O's organization in the George Sherrill trade.

Ramon continues to put up some good numbers at the Minor League level so I hope that he can get back to the Bigs someday. Until then, I will continue to say his name with a smile on my face while my tongue is rolling the R's!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Your Real AL ROY

So the baseball award voting people have screwed something up again. Not only did he not win but he wasn't even in the top six vote getters so I have to rectify this situation immediately.

11/16/09 4:21PM EST
BALTIMORE-- The Great Orioles Autograph Project blog has named Nolan Reimold the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year. Reimold had an amazing rookie campaign in which he hit .279 with 15 HRs, 45 RBI and 49 runs scored, even though he played over 100 games with a fraying Achilles tendon. It was an amazing rookie season for this very promising Orioles outfielder.

High five Nolan!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Doug Linton Auto for the Weekend

Doug Linton 1999

Doug's auto is another card that came my way via a SCN trade. He doesn't have any Orioles cards but this Minor League card is a pretty perfect way to show off his auto.

He was drafted in the 43rd round of the 1986 draft by the Blue Jays and took six years to make it to the Majors. Doug pitched for 5 Big League teams over seven seasons spanning eleven years. The guy almost literally pitched everywhere in the Minors and had a hard time entrenching himself with any MLB squad. But he must love baseball as he only officially retired after the 2004 season. He was the Modesto Nuts' (Rockies hi-A team) pitching coach for the 2009 season so he is staying close to the game that he loves.

Doug pitched for the Orioles in the 1999 season and went 1-4 with a 5.95 ERA in 14 games which included eight starts. That was his first Major League action since the '96 season with the Royals. He wouldn't get back to the Bigs again until 2003 with the Blue Jays.

Unpossible Autograph: Vic Wertz

Vic Wertz 1954 (d. 1983)

Since Vic died in 1983, over 26 years ago, I think he is the guy who has been dead the longest that I still have an autograph from. I bought this on eBay earlier this year and I was really happy to get it.

Vic only played in 29 games for the Orioles but had spent the two previous seasons with the franchise as a member of the Browns. While his numbers weren't great in that 29 game stretch, he had a very prolific career outside of Baltimore.

He played 17 seasons for five American League teams and seems to have been one of the top power hitters of the 1950s. He was a four time All-Star and received MVP votes 5 times while he hit 266 homers and batted .277 for his career.

The most interesting thing I found about Vic was that he was the player who hit the ball that allowed Willie Mays to make "The Catch" in the 1954 World Series.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pictures From the Vault: Lou Montanez Rehabbing at Frederick

I was pretty psyched to catch Lou during his rehab stint in Frederick. He seemed like a good guy and I always enjoy seeing Orioles on rehab assignments. Also, this happened on my birthday, so this was like icing on my cake.

I believe that this is Lou getting rung up. So maybe I could've selected a better picture to show of him in the game. But this picture also caught the Keys' attempt at spelling their name in cursive on the field. Now, I see the K-e-y but I'm not on-board with that s. I can barely describe what went wrong, but as someone with with an s in the middle of their last name, I had a lot of grade school practice with s.

Monday, November 9, 2009

TTM Success: Chuck Essegian

Chuck Essegian 1961

Chuck is a member of the "1 game as an Oriole" club; he appeared for the O's on April 11, 1961 as a pinch-hitter. He didn't strike out but got out in some other manner so he went 0-1 at the plate in his Orioles career. He was replaced before playing the field so that closed the book on his time with the Birds.

Overall, Chuck played six years in the Majors for six different teams and was used mostly as a 4th outfielder. His MLB career highlight was definitely hitting a then-record two pinch-hit homers for the Dodgers against the White Sox in the 1959 World Series. That record has since been equaled by the Red Sox' Bernie Carbo in the '75 WS. In a strange coincidence, I blogged about Al Smith last week, who was a member of the '59 White Sox team that Chuck's home runs helped to defeat for the championship.

I also discovered that he is one of only two guys to have played in a Rose Bowl and the World Series. That's some pretty cool stuff right there.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Friday Post About Ken Huckaby

Ken Huckaby 2004

Orioles Legend, Ken Huckaby was a major contributor to the 2004 Orioles World Series Championship team. He hit .509 in the Orioles four game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Or not. I'm mildly bitter after another playoff-less season in Baltimore, especially with the Yankees winning their 80th World Series. Oh well, the current Orioles team seems to be heading in the right direction, so hopefully I will get to see at least a .500 team in the next few seasons.

Anyway, back to Ken Huckaby; I got this card in a SCN trade. Ken was an Oriole for all of 8 games between July and August in 2004, after the O's picked him off waivers from the Rangers. He was a solid back-up catcher but had a hard time hitting at the Major League level. In his 6 year career from 2001-06, he appeared in 161 games for five teams and hit only .222 in 427 ABs.

I have a semi-evil tie-in as to why I'm showcasing Ken today. Here it is, from his entry:

Derek Jeter Collision

Arguably, Huckaby's most significant on field moment came in the 2003 season opener against the New York Yankees. With Derek Jeter on first base and Jason Giambi at bat, Toronto used an extreme shift that left third base uncovered. Giambi hit a soft grounder to the pitcher, Roy Halladay, who threw to first baseman Carlos Delgado for an out. Jeter, seeing Toronto out of position, rounded second and ran to third. Huckaby ran up the line to cover third and fielded Delgado's throw. Jeter dived headfirst into the bag, while Huckaby attempted to catch the baseball and block Jeter from reaching third. In do so, Huckaby fell onto Jeter; his shin guard driving into his shoulder.

Jeter's shoulder popped out the front of the socket, and Yankee trainers and Blue Jay doctors tried to pop it back. After unsuccessfully attempting to reset his shoulder in the socket, Jeter was taken to the Yankees' clubhouse, where his shoulder was put back in place. Jeter, who had never played fewer than 148 games in the prior seven full seasons, was subsequently on the disabled list for six weeks, missing 36 games.

So there, Derek Jeter and all you Yankees fans. It looks like at least one former Oriole knew how to beat you. The key is apparently physical damage. Just something for the 2010 Orioles team to remember...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

TTM Success-Ron Washington

I've showcased Ron once before when I got a signed Twins card of his in a trade. But I didn't get too in depth since I was sharing multiple cards in that post. This time, Ron is getting a post of his own.

Ron's time with the Orioles lasted all of 26 games during the 1987 season. He played most of those games at third base but was a utility player. Luckily for me, the Crown set came through again and features Ron on his only Orioles card. He is currently the manager of the Texas Rangers and signed from the team address this past season. I was psyched since he is one of the few current players or coaches who actually personalized my card as I requested. He coached in the Mets & A's organizations before getting a shot at managing and was featured in the book "Moneyball" while with the A's. He is considered an old-school type of manager.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Minor League Appreciation Pictures

Here's a few more pictures from the 2009 Orioles Minor League Appreciation night.

I have to lead off with the Minor Leaguer who had the best year in my opinion, Brain Matusz. He won the Jim Palmer Pitcher of the Year award so he may now talk highly about himself all year.

Next up is Brandon Waring who won the Brooks Robinson Player of the Year award. He looks a little nervous in this shot but it was probably his first time on a Big League field with fans in the stands. Either that or he dislikes wearing a suit as much as I do!

Caleb Joseph, the 2009 Elrod Hendricks award winner, would probably be the Orioles catcher of the future if he wasn't blocked by the #1 player in all of our hearts, Mr. Matt Wieters. Caleb seems like a great guy wand works very hard at getting better every day. He used to run his own Wordpress blog but it looks like it has since been taking down.

Finally, Mike Griffin won the Cal Ripken Sr. award for player development. He was the pitching coach with Bowie last season and moved up to Norfolk with a lot of the talent this past season. He has been great working with the O's crop of young pitchers.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Orioles' Jon Leicester

Jon Leicester 2007

So even though it doesn't look like it, his last name is pronounced les-ter. This makes me feel like the Orioles got the wrong Jon Leicester to pitch for them. Oh well, we just happened to get the Jon Leicester that not many people will have heard of, and wasn't able to find much success at the Major League level.

I got this card in a SCN trade and am cool with it as Jon doesn't have any cards that feature him in an Orioles uniform. I do have a card of him during his time with the Tides but I don't want to send it out unless I'm pretty sure it will come back to me.

Jon appeared in 10 games (5 starts) and went 2-3 with a 7.59 ERA for the 2007 O's. Things didn't go too well but he certainly wasn't the worst pitcher the Orioles had that year; will the two Victor's please step forward? He was with the O's organization again in 2008 but spent the entire season at Norfolk and didn't make it back to Baltimore as he didn't have a good season with the Tides. He pitched for the Japanese League Orix Buffaloes during the 2009 season, although I couldn't find his name on their website. Well, I couldn't find much of anything on their website as I don't speak nor read Japanese. If anyone out there does, maybe you can help me on this one...