Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Request Week- Jake Fox

Request Week continues to roll along with another suggestion from Justin, AKA piratesfan731.This time around he wants to hear about Jake Fox.

I've actually posted about Jake a few times in the past. Specifically, I wrote these three posts within a single week back in June 2010 when Jake was traded to the Orioles. I guess I was going through a "Jake Fox phase" to write about the new back-up catcher three times in one week. Most recently, I displayed a card that Jake signed for me last Spring Training shortly after he got through mowing down Grapefruit League pitching by hitting 10 homers in March.

Jake signed this Orioles postcard for me during the first week of the season. It's his only Orioles issue to date. 

Mainly due to his offensive outburst, Jake won the backup catcher job and broke camp with the O's. Unfortunately, he couldn't carry over his spring success and isn't known for calling a great game, so he was designated for assignment on June 1. He cleared waivers and spent a few months with AAA Norfolk before being called up to the O's on August 23. At this point, I see him as the emergency catcher and a bat with some pop off of the bench. Here's to hoping that Jake can rediscover some of that Spring Training magic!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Request Week- B.J. Surhoff

B.J. Surhoff is probably the second best Oriole player that I've never profiled, behind only Mike Mussina. So I'll do my best to make this a good write-up. Fellow Orioles blogger, Ryan H, requested that I post about him so here we go.

For starters, this card is always the image that pops into my head when I think or talk about B.J. I guess this card made an impression on me in my younger collecting years and that it's just stuck with me all these years later. It's very strange, because most of the time, I identify former Orioles players with the O's, even if they are more widely known for having played with a different team. I am guilty of reversing that with B.J. and that's probably why it has taken me so long to write about him.

B.J. played in the Majors from 1987-2005, spending his first nine seasons with the Brewers before signing with the Orioles as a free agent in December 1995. He would go on to sign four additional free agent contracts with the O's and spent a total of eight seasons with them, so it's pretty obvious that he enjoyed playing in Baltimore. In a very controversial and questionable move, the Orioles traded B.J. to the Braves for a few prospects (who never amounted to anything) at the 2000 trade deadline. I remember that both he and his many fans in Baltimore, were torn up about the transaction.

The best season of B.J.'s career came with the O's in 1999 when he smashed 28 home runs, scored 104 runs, drove in 107 and hit .308. He made the only All-Star team of his career that year and also participated in the HR Derby. He retired at the end of the 2005 season at the age of 40 and wrapped up his career with 2326 hits (including 440 doubles and 188 homers) and a life-time .282 batting average. He was elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2007 and has served as a special instructor with the O's in recent years.

I got this card signed at an Orioles FanFest in probably 2004 or 2005. B.J. is known his his dry, scathing sense of humor and I remember him joking about not many people being in his line.

The requests continue to come in and here's what I have lined up for request week so far:
Jake Fox for Justin
Charles Johnson for Sharon
Rafael Palmeiro & Bruce Chen for Zach

It appears that I have room for one more request if anyone out there is itching to hear my take on any other former Orioles players.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Request Week- Rocky Cherry

I'm kicking off my all request week with a suggestion from Justin, AKA piratesfan731, who wanted to see and hear a little bit about former Oriole Rocky Cherry.

I have to start by saying the most obvious thing about him; that his name is just amazing. Way back in July 2009, I described it as "one of the greatest, most ice-cream-sounding names ever", and I'm sticking by that statement. I would guess that his parents either had a great sense of humor, or they were rather oblivious to the awesomeness that those eleven letters contain.

It's best that we remember Rocky for his name because his MLB stats over the 2007-08 seasons for the Cubs and Orioles aren't pretty. He had a 1-4 record with a 5.77 ERA over 40 relief appearances, 28 of which came with the O's after the Cubs sent him and Scott Moore to Baltimore for Steve Trachsel on August 31, 2007. He hasn't pitched professionally since the end of the 2009 season, and I would venture a guess that he has retired.

Interestingly, this is the only card that pictures Rocky in an Orioles uniform. There is a "gold" version of this that's only #ed to 75, but if you want an Orioles card of Rocky, it will be autographed. Which is perfect for me and my collection, but not so much if you didn't want to pay for the signature. I lucked out and got this card on ebay sometime in 2009 for either .25 or .99 plus shipping. You can still find this card but you will need to pay significantly more, proportionally at least. ($5 is a lot more than a quarter, am I right?)

If anyone else is interested in making a request for my O's autograph request week, please leave a comment!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Orioles Autograph Request Week

I've noticed that my readership has been declining recently and I want to attempt to reverse that trend. So I'm making the next four days "Reader Request Days". That's right, YOU get to pick who I write about. Just leave a suggestion in the comments section, and I will do my best to write about everyone who is requested. I would prefer to write about guys that I haven't covered before but that still allows you to pick from 100's of former Birds.

I have yet to write about some Orioles greats such as Midre Cummings, Mike Kinkade and Keith Shepherd. Oh wait, I meant Mike Mussina, Gregg Olson, and BJ Surhoff. But whether you would like to hear my take on Cummings, Mussina or anyone in between, just let me know and I'll do my best to hook you up! I'm currently only missing autographs from 10 all-time O's, so there is a good chance I can come through on all your requests. I hope to hear from some of you!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Orioles Bobblehead of the Week...

Your regularly scheduled feature will return next week. I promise! (Assuming I find time to take pictures of some more bobbles.)
At this time, I have to batten down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Irene. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Oriole # 905- Jo-Jo Reyes

On August 3, Jo-Jo became the 905th player to appear in a game for the Orioles when he pitched two innings in a loss against the Royals. I didn't have an autograph of double J at the time of his debut and was away from the blog for a few days, so that's why it took me just over three weeks to write about his debut.

Jo-Jo was drafted by the Braves in the second round of the 2003 draft and rose through their Minor League ranks to become one of their top pitching prospects. He made his MLB debut with the Braves in late 2007 but he has mostly struggled in the Majors thus far in his career. He was essentially an extra player in the 2010 Blue Jays-Braves trade that sent him and Yunel Escobar to Toronto for Alex Gonzalez and two minor leaguers. He is best known around baseball for his unfortunate streak of 28 starts without a win that was snapped earlier this season with a Jays victory over the Indians. Those 28 starts without a W tied him with two other pitchers for the all-time record, and I'm sure that he is happy to avoid holding that one all by himself.

The Jays designated Jo-Jo for assignment on July 23rd and the O's claimed him on August 2nd. I see him as just another pitcher in a long line of Orioles late season warm bodied pick-ups to finish out the season. He might prove me wrong and he has been decent so far with a 2-2 record and 4.57 ERA over five appearances (four starts) but I would be happier if Jo-Jo was a middle reliever moving forward. His six inning, one earned run start yesterday will likely keep him in the rotation for at least one more start and it would be great if he had continued success through the end of the season.

Good luck double J!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

RIP Flanny

Some very sad news hit yesterday when we learned that Mike Flanagan was dead at only 59 years old. And now today, multiple news outlets are reporting that it was an apparent suicide. I have no idea what might have caused Mike to take his own life but it just makes the news that much harder to accept.

I'm pretty sad about Mike's passing; I had the chance to meet him a handful of times over the years and he always seemed like a pretty nice guy and was known throughout baseball for his dry, witty sense of humor. For some odd reason, I've never done a post about Mike before today, and that makes me feel like I've done an inadequate job with my Orioles blogging over the past few years.

It's hard to rank Mike's exact spot in the Orioles pitching pantheon, except I would say that he's comfortably in the top five, along with Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Mussina, and Mike Cuellar. Flanny was the 1979 A.L Cy Young winner and was a member of the '78 A.L. All-Star team. In the all-time Orioles record books, he ranks third with 450 games pitched and 328 starts, fourth with 1,297 strikeouts and 98 complete games, and fifth with 141 wins.

Mike was involved with the Orioles off and on for the past five decades as a player, pitching coach, general manager and broadcaster. He was one of a small handful of former players who have stayed near the team over so many years and meant a lot to the franchise and the city of Baltimore. RIP Mike. You will be missed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Can the Orioles Win A Series?

I'm likely a certified idiot for continuing to follow the Orioles "action" so closely in yet another losing season, but I can't be any other way. The O's are an awful team, but they're MY awful team. And with a win against the Twins tonight or tomorrow, they have a chance to win their first series since they took two games from the Reds at Camden Yards way back in late June. That's right everyone, the Birds haven't won a series in two months. You see how I suffer? At the end of that Reds series, the O's were 35-40, only five games under .500, which is my realistic goal for the team every year. They are now 49-77, 28 games below .500 and virtually guaranteed another losing campaign.

To (possibly) send the team some good Mojo to get that series win monkey off their backs, here are some pictures of former O's who have played for the Twins. How can this possibly help the team win? I have no idea, but I'm doing it anyway.

Ray Miller managed the Twins and later the Orioles, but is best remembered for the 20+ seasons he spent at the pitching coach for the O's and Pirates.

I know that this is an Orioles Crown card, but it clearly pictures John wearing a "TC" Twins hat. In fairness, John only appeared in 6 games with the Orioles during the 1984, and I guess that no one with the team brought a camera to any of those games.

However, Mark Brown pitched in 9 games for the O's during the '84 season, but was featured in the Crown set wearing at least an Orioles hat. So I guess Mark showed up for picture day but John was absent that day, or something like that. 

Mark isn't a good TTM signer so I'm still trying to track down a copy of his signed Crown card. It actually took me a long time to get any autograph of Mark, so I'm happy to at least have this signed card.

To wrap things up, here is Hector Carrasco. He never was featured on an Orioles card either, and he pitched in 40 games for the team in 2003, poor guy. This Twins autographed card replaced this signed Reds card, mainly because the autograph stands out much better on this card. 

Alright O's, let's get the W tonight to get that series win! And then we might be able to dream about a sweep, but I think I'm getting too far ahead of myself.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I experienced my first earthquake today as the Baltimore area was shook by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter was located just outside Richmond, Virginia, something like 120 miles away.

It was slightly scary as it felt like I was surfing on the floor of my 5th floor office, but I didn't see any damage in my immediate vicinity, so I guess no harm no foul. My building was evacuated for about 20 minutes to make sure no structural damage occurred, and then it was back to business as usual.

Once I confirmed that my family and friends were all safe and accounted for, my mind turned back to baseball, specifically the earthquake that disrupted the 1989 World Series between the A's & Giants. Many former or future Orioles played in that World Series and a few others were on the A's coaching staff.

It just happens that I have scans of two Orioles players who were involved with that series that I haven't posted before today. And it works out that one was a Giant and the other an Athletic.

Craig Lefferts pitched in relief during games two, three, and four of the Series. Overall, he pitched 2.2 innings and allowed two hits and one earned run while walking two and striking out one.

Storm Davis was the scheduled game three starter for the A's, but the earthquake occurred prior to that game and the Series was delayed for 10 days. So Tony LaRussa reused his game one and two starters for games three and four to complete the sweep of the Giants and Storm didn't get a chance to appear. Apparently he was pissed. 

Does anyone else out there have any earthquake stories from today? Or from any other quake over the years? I'm sure that my ordeal was mild by some of your experiences (especially if you live on the Left Coast), but it was still strange day for a Mid-Atlantic guy like me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Contest Winnings

About two months ago, I finished in second place in Zach's 2nd Annual College World Series contest. He sent out the winnings probably five weeks ago and I finally got around to scanning them over the weekend.

The guy who won the contest got the first pick and then we bounced back and forth to select our winnings from his prize pool.

I was very happy to add another HOF auto to my collection

This is a pretty sweet collector's coin commemorating the CWS' first year at TD Ameritrade Park

Zach somehow came across a pack of Japanese cards that I was very excited to rip. 
I don't recognize any of these guys but it's still cool to open up a foreign pack of cards.


Next up was a lot of Royals player post cards; the Maury Wills auto was my next pick

Zach was nice enough to throw in a few extra cards of Zach Britton and an autograph of current Royal, Johnny Giavotella.

 As you can see, Zach is very generous with his prizes, so make sure you check out his blog, Autographed Cards, so that you don't miss out on his next contest.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Case of the Sundays- Jon Knott

Jon Knott spent parts of three seasons in the Majors with the Orioles and Padres. Total big league games played over those three seasons- 19. But hey, at least he made it to the show!

PS- uni number 68 isn't generally a good sign...

PPS- he actually wore 39 when he played for the O's, so that's better I guess

Friday, August 19, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Ernie Johnson

Former Orioles and Braves pitcher Ernie Johnson passed away one week ago today. His health had been declining recently and he was in hospice care prior to his passing.

Ernie kindly signed this card for me through the mail in only one week's time back in August 2009. I wrote a post about him in September 2009 and don't have too much to add to that, so click the link if you'd like to read about Ernie and his career. He was a pretty great guy.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, but it always hits me harder when a former Oriole passes away who has taken a minute out of their day to sign and personalize a card just for me. RIP Ernie, thanks for taking the time to sign this card for me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moving On...

Well that A's series was a bit of a letdown. After the O's won the first game, they just couldn't in another game to put that silly record of losing the season series to the A's every year since 1998 to bed. And ending the series with a runner being thrown out at home was just salt in the wound. Maybe next year, I guess.

Next up, the O's travel to Southern California to take on the Angels. Representing the Angels today is former Oriole and (California) Angel, Luis Polonia.

Luis played in the Majors for six teams over twelve seasons between 1987-2000, and won two World Series Championships during his career; one with Atlanta in 1995 and the other with the Yankees in 2000. He spent almost four full seasons with the Angels from 1990-1993, but his time as an Oriole was significantly shorter, lasting only 58 games during the middle of the 1996 season. He didn't have much success in Baltimore and the only stat that Luis ever led his league in was caught stealing (in three consecutive seasons from 1991-93). He even earned the unflattering nickname of "Catch 22"; the reasoning being that if you hit him 100 fly balls in the outfield, he would catch only 22 of them.

Here's to hoping that the Orioles can right the ship over the last six weeks of the seasons to at least (once again) narrowly avoid that nasty 100 loss mark. No better time to start than now! A sweep would be angelic!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wouldn't It Be Nice...

...if the Orioles could beat the A's? (Former Oriole and (Philadelphia) Athletics pitcher Morrie Martin is representing the A's today)

Did you know that the Orioles haven't won a season series against the A's since 1998? That's bad.
And for some reason, the Orioles generally play poorly in Oakland. Maybe it's all the foul territory. I don't know, don't ask me. Let's just win this game today and put that silly record behind us, OK?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy 44th Birthday Bret Barberie

Some days, I don't have any great ideas for posts, so I check the birthdays page to see if any former Orioles are on the list. Today is Bret's big day, and I hope it's a good one for him.

Bret was one of the inaugural 1993 Florida Marlins; he played second base in their first ever game and recorded the first hit in team history. Not too many modern era players can lay claim to a mark like that, so that's pretty awesome.

I've been trying to track down a signed Orioles card of Bret for quite some time to no avail. Signed Marlins and Expos cards are plentiful but I have yet to find an Orioles autograph. If you know where one is, please let me know. Bret only played with the O's for the 1995 season, but was pictured on at least five cards in an Orioles uniform, so I have to figure that there must be a few signed copies out there somewhere!

Bret seems to be a hitting coach/fielding analyst for a Southern California sports agency, so maybe I can reach out to him through them.

In the very unlikely circumstance that Bret comes across this post, Happy Birthday to you.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Alejandro Freire (interestingly pronounced Fray-day) was a fourteen year minor league veteran when he finally made his MLB debut with the Orioles on August 9,2005. He played for the O's for the rest of the season and hit .246 with 1 HR and 4 RBI over 65 at-bats in 25 games. And that would close the book on Alejandro's big league career. Not surprisingly, he continued to play baseball over the next three seasons in various leagues around the world.

Freire was included in multiple 2006 cards sets, including Topps 52, Fleer, Upper Deck, and Ultra. Since he never played in the Majors again and is currently living out of the country, I believe in Venezuela, that could have been a problem for a team autograph collector like myself. Luckily, Alejanadro somehow made the cut in the autograph checklists of Sweet Spot and Ultra, so there are some certified autographs of his to be found.

I won't say that I understand all the variations of these Sweet Spot autographs but my card is numbered to only 50 and seems to be one of the rarer versions.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Orioles Bobblehead of the Week- Brian Matusz

Brian Matusz was the latest Oriole to be honored with a bobblehead at Camden Yards when the O's gave away his bobblehead to the first 20,000 fans 15 and over last Saturday, August 6 prior to their game against the Blue Jays.

Here's some pictures of the bobble box...


Back with info and such
Sides are both the same and show his name, number and signature

The bobblehead's face doesn't look much like Brian,

 but they did a pretty good job displaying his pitching motion.

Matusz has been pitching at AAA Norfolk for approximately the past month, so this marks the second consecutive season that the team has issued a bobble of a player who is currently playing in the minors (after the Reimold mini-bobble last year). 

It's tough to predict how players will turn out over the course of a season, but it's unfortunate that this happened to the O's in two straight years. Not to mention the Jake Arrieta shirts that were given away at Thursday night's game on the eve of Jake's season ending elbow surgery.  It has to get better though, am I right Orioles fans? 

(crickets chirping) Is there anyone out there?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Mike Fornieles

Jose Miguel "Mike" Fornieles was a Cuban born pitcher who played in the Majors from 1952-63. He spent parts of the 1956-57 seasons with the Orioles but is best remembered for the seven seasons he spent in Boston, mainly as the Red Sox' closer. He was even an All-Star with the Sawx in 1961.

During his time in Birdland, Mike had a 6-13 record with a 4.07 ERA in 45 games (15 starts). Orioles manager Paul Richards orchestrated the trade that brought Mike to the Baltimore from the White Sox, but Fornieles never produced as the Orioles hoped he might.

Before doing my research for this post, I honestly had no idea that Mike was Cuban, but I had always thought that Fornieles sounded like it might be of Hispanic origin.

I'm a big fan of how Mike signed the F at the start of his last name. It's very unique how he rolls the upper bar into the o and something that I don't feel like I've seen elsewhere.

After Mike's baseball career ended, he turned to a new career selling cars in Florida. He passed away in 1998 at 66 years old. RIP Mike.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

And I'm Back

I'm sure that everyone missed me (and their almost daily Orioles autograph fix).

To celebrate my return, here's a Zach Britton autograph I got during his recent minor league demotion.

He was very cool and even personalized for me. Thanks Zach

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gone Fishing

Wish me luck, and don't worry, baseball will be involved somehow. Talk to y'all soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oriole #904- Tommy Hunter

Tommy "Big Game" Hunter (not to be confused with Tommy Hunter, Canada's Country Gentleman) became the 904th player to appear in a game for the Orioles when he pitched in the 8th inning of last night's game against the Royals. He gave up two hits and an earned run, but luckily the O's had a three run lead at the time so it didn't effect the outcome of the game. He somehow earned a hold for his messy inning; I guess because the Orioles maintained the lead.

While writing my Chris Davis Orioles Debut post yesterday, I mentioned that I coincidentally happened to have autographs of both former Rangers who came to Baltimore in exchange for Koji over the weekend. This Hunter autograph was pulled from a pack of Tristar a few years back and I had completely forgotten about it. I uncovered it yesterday while looking for another card and totally flipped out. It was a great surprise and it was nice to not have to add Davis or Hunter to my need list. This card is kind of silly looking, and as always, I prefer my autographs in-person, so I hope to upgrade it at some point.

Big Game was a supplemental first round draft pick by the Rangers in 2007 and has pitched for them over parts of the past four seasons. Over 54 Major League games (including 44 starts), he is 23-13 with a 4.38 ERA. He is still only 25 years old and appears to be under team control through 2015 so this trade makes a lot of sense to me.

Tommy immediately stabilizes the Orioles constantly-in-flux rotation and should likely be one of the starting five for at least the remainder of this season. I hope that he can mirror his 2010 success when he went 13-4 with a 3.75 ERA and led the American League with a .765 winning percentage. Since Chris Davis homered yesterday after I suggested it in my post, my message for Tommy is to go out and pitch a complete game in your (anticipated) first Orioles start on Friday. Good luck Big Game!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Oriole #903- Chris Davis

"Crush Davis" became the 903rd player to appear in a game for the Orioles when he started at first base against the Yankees on Sunday. The Orioles had just acquired him and Tommy Hunter from the Rangers in exchange for Koji Uehara on Saturday, so it didn't take him long to crack the lineup. It seems that Chris will be the O's regular first baseman for the rest of the season since the team traded their former starting 1B, Derrek Lee, to the Pirates.

I just happened to have an autograph of both Davis and Hunter in my collection prior to the trade. Technically, this autograph was in Kalina's collection, but I stole borrowed it now that Chris is an Oriole. She's been a fan of Chris's ever since he tossed her a ball during Rangers' batting practice prior to a game in Baltimore back in 2009. He was putting on quite a show; fielding ground balls while simultaneously dancing to whatever song was playing on the ballpark's sound system. It was pretty amusing to watch. Chris didn't sign that day, so I made a trade for this card on I hope to get an in-person autograph of his at some point during his tenure with the team. (I'll show the Hunter autograph and tell the story about his autograph when/if he makes his O's debut.)

Chris is an intriguing player with some significant upside but has also had issues at the Major League level. In 886 big league at-bats, he has hit 42 home run (1 in every 21 ABs) but has also struck out 303 times (about 34% of the time). In 2009, he struck out 100 times in his first 219 at-bats, becoming the fastest player in MLB history to reach that dubious number. He and Mark Reynolds both seem to be in the all-or-nothing school of hacking, and I'm hoping for a lot of 'all' and not so much 'nothing'.

Davis has spent parts of the past four seasons with the Rangers, getting more extended looks in 2008 & '09 than in the past two years. He has destroyed AAA pitching every time he has been sent down, so needs to find some success in the Majors to avoid being labeled a AAAA type of player. I certainly hope that the fresh start will do him good and that he can become the O's power-hitting first baseman of the future.

Chris went 0-4, with a strikeout in his O's debut on Sunday. Now let's see that first Orioles home run!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lots of Orioles Birthdays Today

These guys all were born on this date and they all play/played for the O's. What're the chances that four Orioles (out of the 903) were born on the same day? Not very high, but I'll let you mathematically inclined folks figure that one out.

Jonesy 1985



 1923 (d. 2004)

Short on ideas for today and the O's haven't given me much to talk about lately. Hope to have everything together by tomorrow for Chris Davis's O's debut yesterday.