Tuesday, November 6, 2012

1987 Orioles Debuts, #421-439

1987 wasn't a specifically remarkable year regarding the new players to put on an Orioles uniform. The highlight was probably Billy Ripken, who made his orange and black debut to complete the Ripken double play combo with brother Cal, and Ripken trifecta with their manager and dad, Cal Sr. Relief pitcher Mark Williamson also showed up in Baltimore for the first time and would be a part of the team for the next eight seasons, but that was pretty much everything of note. 

Here's my older posts in the series...
(200120001999199819961995199419931992199119901989, 1988)

Terry Kennedy #421, 4/6/87 (1987-88)

Rick Burleson #422, 4/6/87 (1987)

Ray Knight #423, 4/6/87 (1987)

I had the opportunity to briefly work with Ray and he's a nice guy, although I will admit it's a stretch to call me a "great friend", but hey, I'll take it! 

Rene Gonzales #424, 4/6/87 (1987-90)

Rene played in the Majors for thirteen seasons between 1984 and 1997 and spent time with seven different teams. The four seasons he spent with the Orioles was the most time he spent with any specific franchise. He played mostly as a backup second and third baseman over his 267 games in Baltimore. 

Since his playing days ended, it seems as though he has stayed active in baseball and was a manager in the Brewers' farm system between 2007 & 2009. 

Dave Schmidt #425, 4/8/87 (1987-89)

Mark Williamson #426, 4/8/87 MLB Debut (1987-94)

Nelson Simmons #427, 4/18/87 (1987)

Jeff Ballard #428, 5/9/87 MLB Debut (1987-91)

Dave Van Gorder #429, 5/12/87 (1987)

Jack O'Connor #430, 5/13/87 (1987)

Tom Niedenfuer #431, 5/23/87 (1987-88)

Tom was a long-time closer for the Dodgers before he was traded to the Orioles in the middle of the 1987 season. By the time he arrived in Baltimore, he was nearing the end of his ten seasons in the Majors and had begun to lose his effectiveness, although he still saved 13 games in '87 and another 18 in '88.

He finished his career with 97 saves and notched double-digit save totals in six consecutive seasons from 1983-88. Unfortunately, he is probably best remembered for giving up a walk-off home run to Cardinals' shortstop Ozzie Smith during his time with the Dodgers in the 1985 NLCS, which led to Jack Buck's famous "Go crazy, folks" broadcasting call.

Luis DeLeon #432, 6/13/87 (1987)

Luis pitched seven seasons in the Majors between 1981-89 but is probably best remembered for the record he holds of pitching in 12(!) Caribbean World Series, representing his home country of Puerto Rico.

He is another one of those players who spent a short amount of time in Baltimore, appearing in just 11 games during the '87 season; he had an 0-2 record and a 4.79 ERA for the Orioles. His time in Baltimore is commemorated on a single card, of course as part of the all-inclusive Orioles Crown set, and I'm holding out hope to add a signed copy of that to my collection one day. I have just missed out on a signing with him and know of a few collectors with copies to trade, so hopefully, one of those bad boys will join my collection sooner rather than later.

Doug Corbett #433, 6/23/87 (1987)

Mike Griffin #434, 6/26/87 (1987)

Ron Washington #435, 7/10/87 (1987)

Billy Ripken #436, 7/11/87 MLB Debut (1987-92, 96)

Mike Hart #437, 8/14/87 (1987)

Pete Stanicek #438, 9/1/87 MLB Debut (1987-88)

Pete's entire MLB career was the 113 games he played during his two seasons in Baltimore. He played mostly left field and second base, and led the '88 O's with 12 stolen bases. His brother, Steve Stanicek, also briefly played in the Majors.

Jose Mesa #439, 9/10/87 MLB Debut (1987, 90-92)

Joe Table is best remembered for the seven seasons he spent with the Cleveland Indians during which he was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. He was an All-Star in 1995 & '96, and led the Majors with 46 saves in '95, which in addition to his 1.13 ERA, was good enough for second place in the Cy Young award balloting. However, Clevelanders probably remember him more for blowing the lead in Game 7 of the  1997 World Series than for anything else.

Interestingly, Jose was almost purely a starter during the parts of four seasons his spent in Baltimore and the results weren't particularly good. He went 13-24 with a 5.41 ERA over 49 games for the O's at the start of his career and really only turned things around once the Indians converted him to full-time reliever in 1994.

As I mentioned in my post on the '88 Orioles, Jose came to Baltimore from Toronto as a player to be named  in the Mike Flanagan-Oswaldo Peraza swap. Which would have been a lot cooler if the O's had held onto him and not traded him to the Indians in the middle of the '92 season for Kyle Washington, who never played above AA ball.

Overall, Jose pitched 19 years at baseball's top level and amassed 321 saves, which is good for the 14th most in baseball history. Not too shabby for a player to be named later.

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