This is the second time that Johnny has been featured on my blog. I had previously received a Dodgers autographed card from Aaron but since Johnny is wearing the black and orange (in black and white) on this Crown card, it immediately slides into my collection. The Dodgers card is now up for trade if anyone is interested.
Johnny pitched in 18 games for the O's at the end of a fairly long career. He had led the NL with 135 strikeouts in 1946, been elected to two All-Star teams and received MVP votes after three seasons. He earned his nickname due to the combination of his shuffling gait and size 14 feet.
Lou Sleater 1958
Lou pitched for 6 teams over 7 seasons of his career and threw his last pitch in the majors for the '58 O's. Lou hit a walk-off HR in 1957 while pitching for the Tigers, a very uncommon feat for a pitcher.
Hal Smith 1955-56
Hal started his career for the O's and later played for the same 1960 World Series Champion Pirates team that Gino Cimoli played for. Hal hit a HR to give the Pirates a short-lived lead in the 8th inning of game 7 of that series but is overlooked since Bill Mazeroski hit his famous blast in the next inning to win the game and the series. Another interesting fact is that during the 1960-61 seasons, Hal was one of two NL catchers named Hal Smith. That's even more confusing than keeping track of the catching Molina brothers!
Gene Stephens 1960-61
Gene patrolled all three outfield positions for the Orioles for almost exactly one season between June 9, 1960 and June 8, 1961. He was traded to the O's by the Red Sox for Willie Tasby in 1960 and was later flipped to the Royals for Marv Throneberry in 1961. On June 18, 1953 while on the Red Sox, Gene was the first player since 1900 to have 3 hits in one inning, a record that has since been duplicated by Johnny Damon in 2004.
Jerry Walker 1957-60
Jerry started his Orioles career at age 18 without ever having thrown a pitch in the minor leagues, one of a very few players to have ever accomplished that and also was one of the youngest of that exclusive group. He was one of the "Kiddie Corps" Orioles pitchers of the late 50s and, at 20 years old in 1959, was the youngest pitcher ever to start the All-Star game for the AL. He was out of baseball by age 26 but has stayed involved with the game up until this day. He served as the Tigers general manager for one season in 1993 and is currently a vice president and special assistant to the GM for the Reds.
Pete Ward 1962
Pete only played in 8 games for the O's in September of 1962 before being traded to the White Sox as part of the Luis Aparicio deal the following off-season. He had a great '63 season for the White Sox coming in second, to teammate Gary Peters, for the Rookie of the Year award and finished ninth in MVP balloting. He had an even better year in 1964 when he had the sixth most MVP votes, but the rest of his career wasn't quite as successful. Pete is in the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and both the Oregon & Chicagoland Sports Halls of Fame.
Wally Westlake 1955
Another player that was an Oriole at the tail-end of his career, Wally only amassed 24 at-bats for the O's over 8 games in the '55 season. He was on the NL All-Star team in 1951 when he played for the Pirates & Cardinals.
Dallas Williams 1981
As the Orioles first-round draft pick in 1976 (20th overall) Dallas was initially a highly-regarded prospect but never was able to live up to his lofty draft status. He appeared in only two games for the O's in the 1981 season. I saw Dallas in Norfolk recently as he is the Tides field coach.
George Zuverink 1955-59
George pitched in 197 games for the Orioles, appearing in all but five of those games as a reliever. During the 1957 season, along with Frank Zupo, he formed the only "Z" battery in Major League history. To clarify, he is the only pitcher, whose last name begins with Z, to throw to a catcher, whose last name also began with a Z. And that is some hard hitting news that you won't find almost anywhere else.
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