1998 was the first losing season for the O's following their 1996-97 back-to-back playoff appearances. Unfortunately, that season began a slide that has continued to this day, as the Orioles are still trying to have their first winning campaign since the '97 wire-to-wire playoff season.
The '98 O's debuts included a few veterans whose careers were winding down as well as a couple players who went on to become the core of the Orioles team in coming seasons, but many were only a member of the team for that single season.
And here are the players who debuted for the O's in 1998.
Joe Carter #613, 3/31/98 (1998)
Norm Charlton #614, 3/31/98 (1998)
Norm pitched in the Majors from 1988-2000 for a number of teams and is best remembered as one of the "Nasty Boys" in the Reds bullpen in the late '80s and early '90s. He was also quite successful with the Mariners in the mid-'90s. He was good enough to earn an All-Star nod in 1992 with the Reds.
Unfortunately, he was not very good for the Orioles in 1998, and had a 6.94 over 36 games before the team cut him loose. This is his lone Orioles card and it took me years to get it signed before I was able to send it to a fellow grapher to get signed at a card show last fall. It's not a great looking card and the autograph kind of disappears into the black jersey, but I'm very happy to have it in my collection. Norm is a great example of a player whose autograph is fairly easy to find, but you are in trouble if you want a specific card signed as he doesn't sign TTM and rarely does shows.
Ozzie Guillen #615, 3/31/98 (1998)
Doug Drabek #616, 4/3/98 (1998)
Sidney Ponson #617, 4/19/98 (1998-2005)
Doug Johns #618, 4/21/98 (1998-99)
Bobby Munoz #619, 5/16/98 (1998)
Bobby had a rough time with the O's in 1998 and had a 9.75 ERA over 9 games.
Radhames Dykhoff #620, 6/7/98 (1998)
Radhames appeared in just a single game for the O's, the only one of his career actually, and allowed two runs in one inning. He is Sidney Ponson's cousin and, like Ponson, is Aruban. In fact, they are two of only four players all-time from Aruba, and all four (including Eugene Kingsale and Calvin Maduro) have played for the O's. Dykohoff is the only one of the quartet who has not been knighted for the achivement.
Jesus played in just eight games for the O's in 1998. But his autograph is a perfect illustration of why I don't trade autographs of active players. Jesus signed this card for me prior to a Pirates-Marlins game in the early '90s, and who would have known that it would eventually work it's way into my Orioles collection?
Pete Smith #622, 6/14/98 (1998)
Rich Becker #623, 6/17/98 (1998)
Joel Bennett #624, 7/15/98 (1998)
PJ Forbes #625, 7/21/98 (1998)
Lyle Mouton #626, 7/25/98 (1998)
Juan Guzman #627, 8/5/98 (1998-99)
Willie Greene #628, 8/11/98 (1998)
Willis Otanez #629, 8/25/98 (1998-99)
Jerry Hairston Jr. #630, 9/11/98 (1998-04)
Calvin Pickering #631, 9/12/98 (1998-99)
Calvin seems to be one of those "What could have been" guys in that he could show tremendous power in the minor leagues but it just never translated to the Majors.
Ryan Minor #632, 9/13/98 (1998-2000)
Chris Fussell #633, 9/15/98 (1998)
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