Thursday, June 28, 2012

1999 Orioles Debuts, Orioles # 634-655

1999 was yet another season with quite a bit of turnover in Baltimore, and 22 different players made their Orioles debuts that year. Unlike the 2000 & 2001 reviews that I've done, this list features a number of big name veteran players, although none of them are best remembered for playing for the O's.

Also, I will unofficially declare that Opening Day 1999, April 5, was likely the single day with the most Orioles player debuts, at least outside of the first game in franchise history in 1954. In that 1999 game, the O's had a new catcher, first baseman, right fielder, designated hitter, second base defensive replacement, and four relief pitchers all make their black and orange debuts in a span of nine innings.

To put that in perspective, there are nine full seasons in franchise history that saw fewer debuts than the nine that occurred in that single game.

Charles Johnson #634, 4/5/99 (1999-00)

Will Clark #635, 4/5/99 (1999-00)

Albert Belle #636, 4/5/99 (1999-00)

Jeff Conine #637, 4/5/99 (1999-03, 06)

Ricky Bones #638, 4/5/99 (1999)

Mike Fetters #639, 4/5/99 (1999)

Jesse Garcia #640, 4/5/99 (1999-00)

Jesse played in 31 games for the Orioles, split between the '99 & '00 seasons before being traded to the Braves. He ended up playing sparingly in the Majors every season through 2005, but never received regular playing time. 

Also, I'm a huge fan of the orange background of this Fleer Tradition card. It's something that card companies should do more often.

Heathcliff Slocumb #641, 4/5/99 (1999)

Heathcliff pitched in the Majors from 1991-2000, spending time with eight different teams. His best seasons were 1994 & 1995 during his stint with the Phillies, and he earned the only All-Star berth during his career in '95.

He is best remembered around baseball as being part of one of the most lop-sided trades in history when the Red Sox sent him to the Mariners at the 1997 trade deadline in return for Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, who would go on to help the Sawx win the World Series in 2004 while Heathcliff was on the decline of his career.

This Orioles signed 8x10 is holding a place in my collection until he (hopefully) signs his one-and-only Orioles card during an upcoming private signing.

Mike Timlin #642, 4/5/99 (1999-00)

Rich Amaral #643, 4/8/99 (1999-00)

Doug Linton #644, 4/11/99 (1999)

Delino Deshields #645, 4/11/99 (1999-01)

Gabe Molina #646, 5/1/99 (1999-00)

Gabe pitched in 29, rather ineffective, games for the Orioles during parts of two seasons in Baltimore to the tune of a 1-2 record and a 7.50 ERA. He went on to play in a handful of games for the Braves and Cardinals.

Tommy Davis #647, 5/14/99 (1999)

No, not that Tommy Davis who also played for the Orioles. I call this guy Tommy Davis 2. I'm quite sure that Tommy signed this card for me TTM back when I was on my mid-'90s autograph requesting kick because I'm pretty doubtful that I came across Tommy during his two weeks in Baltimore.

For years, I thought that this Tommy played in the Majors much longer than the five games that he made it into, I guess mainly because he appeared on a handful of cards as an O, and I incorrectly tied his card appearances in with success at the Major League level.

Jason Johnson #648, 5/20/99 (1999-03)

Jason Johnson pitched five years for the Orioles during the height of some of their darkest days in recent history and was victimized, at least somewhat, by the shabby team surrounding him. He went 34-53 in an Orioles uniform over 133 games, mostly as a starter, but had a somewhat respectable 4.84 ERA.

To date, he pitched 11 seasons in the Majors with eight different clubs and has a 56-100 record with a 4.99 ERA in his career. As of last season, he was still attempting to pitch in the Atlantic League but finished the season with an 0-6 record and a 10.92 ERA, so I'm guessing he has called it a career.

Mike Figga #649, 6/5/99 (1999)

Al Reyes #650, 7/25/99 (1999-00)

Jim Corsi #651, 8/3/99 (1999)

Derrick May #652, 8/21/99 (1999)

B.J. Ryan #653, 8/29/99 (1999-05)

I'm surprised that this is the first time I've discussed B.J. on my blog. He was one of the Orioles best relievers during the mid-2000's and I always have had an affinity for fellow "Ryan's" even if it's a last name. And his locker plate is on the doorway over my bedroom, so it really worked out nicely for something like that.

In 2005, he saved 36 games for the O's and had a 2.43 ERA which was good enough to earn him and All-Star nod. He left Baltimore for Toronto following that season and the Jays signed him to the largest contract ever for a relief pitcher up to that time. But they ultimately got burnt on the contract as B.J. missed more than a year's worth of games due to injury and was released before the end of the five year deal.

Matt Riley #654, 9/9/99 (1999, 2003-04)

Brian Falkenborg #655, 10/1/99 (1999)


Ryan H said...

I think I remember Roch Kobatko posting on his blog that Jason Johnson was in O's camp this spring on a tryout to see if he could get an invite to camp.

Orioles Magic said...

Yeah, I kind of remember that too and meant to include something about that. I guess after looking at his 2011 numbers I can see why the O's didn't take a shot.

Chris said...

Hey Ryan What Orioles are you missing form your collection?

Orioles Magic said...

Chris, shoot me an email at salsmanado at gmail dot com and I'll send you my current need list. Thanks!