Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Post #1000, Celebrating Some Orioles Debuts

I noticed a few weeks back that I was nearing this milestone number of 1000 posts, a number that I never expected to reach when I began writing about my Orioles autograph collection back in March 2009. Just under three and a half years later, I have reached that crazy number of posts and wanted to take a minute to thank all of the fellow bloggers and my readers who have kept me going all this time. I couldn't have made it this far without all of you. 

I have no idea how long I will keep blogging. I know there are some days that I don't feel like writing while other times the words just flow from my fingertips. I do know that I'm nearing the end of Orioles autographs that I have yet to show off here. I don't like to re-run images too often, so if I ever clear out my scanned autograph folder, that might mark an end of sorts, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. Until then, thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to read one of my posts, I really appreciate it!

To celebrate this milestone post, I had been attempting to think of something special to write about and wasn't able to come up with much. But then a trio of players made their Orioles debuts this weekend, including two rather special ones, and my decision was made for me.

Relief pitcher Miguel Socolovich was called up to the Orioles prior to Saturday's game and made his O's and MLB debut in the 10th inning of Saturday's marathon 13 inning game to become Oriole #931. He pitched 1.2 innings and gave up two hits, one run and struck out one.

Miguel had been signed by the Orioles as a minor league free agent this past offseason and had been tearing up the competition at AAA all season long so the call-up was much deserved. It's very possible that he gets sent back to the minors in the coming days to make room for one of the starting pitchers the O's will need, but at least he got his debut out of the way.

At this point in his career, he doesn't have many cards that feature him, including no major set releases yet, but I was lucky and happened to have this Birmingham Barons card of his in my minor league collection. I got it signed on my spring training trip, so I was able to add Miguel's name directly to my have list.

Taylor Teagarden made quite the splash in his Orioles debut, also during Saturday's game. He has been injured all season and was just activated from the DL prior to the game. He came in as a defensive replacement in the 11th inning, after starting catcher Matt Wieters was removed for a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 10th, and he played in the final three innings of the game to become Oriole #932. He had two at-bats in the game and struck out swinging in his first trip to the plate and a few of those swings looked a little uncomfortable.

However, in his second at-bat, he crushed the game winning walk-off home run to seal the 13 inning victory for the O's. From Roch's post on MASNsports.com"According to Elias, Teagarden was the first Oriole to hit a walk-off home run in his first game with the club. He was the first player in the majors to do it since Joe Randa with the Reds on April 4, 2005." Awesome.

And it provided quite the post-game sound bite for FOX when Teagarden uttered "Oh shit" on the broadcast after receiving three shaving cream pies from his teammates. 

The most significant debut of the weekend, at least from an emotional standpoint, was that of Steve Johnson, Oriole #933. Steve's dad, Dave, pitched for the Orioles from 1989-91, so they join the small fraternity of father-son Orioles combos. On top of that, Steve was born and raised in Maryland, so he joins the equally small group of MD born Orioles. And to top things off, his dad has been involved with various Orioles-related radio and TV broadcasts in recent years, so the fans have had access to Dave's joy and frustration throughout Steve's assent to the big league club. 

Dave is the type of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, and his on-air emotional reaction when the Orioles acquired Steve (along with Josh Bell) from the Dodgers for George Sherrill at the trade deadline in 2009 ranks near the top of recent Orioles broadcasting moments. Dave's frustration with the Orioles repeatedly not calling up Steve, even when it seemed like he was a deserving candidate, were also obvious at times, but I enjoyed the realness of Dave's commentary. He tried to remain objective about it, but you could tell that it ate at him.

Well, the Johnson family had their moment when Steve finally appeared in his first MLB game during Sunday's contest against the Tigers, and it seemed O-so-fitting that his debut would come during a home game in front of the Baltimore crowd. He received a nice ovation from the hometown fans and it made for a nice moment in an otherwise disappointing loss. Steve pitched the final two innings of the game and gave up just one run on a Miguel Cabrera home-run, while walking two and striking out two. Steve was sent back to the minors after the game, but at least he got his MLB debut under his belt.

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