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35 Short Season A-Ball

About WillyM

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  • Birthday 2/2/1949

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  • Location
    York County, PA
  • Favorite All Time Oriole
    Willy Miranda

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  1. WillyM

    9/6/12 - Stealing signs?

    The Orioles' Sept. 6, 2012 game against the Yankees was featured on MASN's Orioles Classics the other night. This was the game in which the Orioles took a 6-1 lead into the top of the eighth, only to have the Yankees score five times to tie it, 6-6. Then the Orioles proceeded to score four in the bottom of the eighth for a dramatic 10-6 victory. One pitch in particular left me wondering if there was some sign-stealing going on. The Yankees had two runs home with two outs in the top of the eighth. Eric Chavez was on second base, Curtis Granderson on first, and Russell Martin was the hitter. Pedro Strop threw a good slider on the first pitch and Martin swung and missed for strike one. Strop then fired a fast ball with plenty of steam on it, right down the middle. Martin made no move to swing at it. It should have been strike two. But as Strop delivered the pitch, Matt Wieters, who had evidently called for another slider low and away, shifted to his right and began to move his glove over to where he expected the ball would arrive. He tried to adjust at the last instant when he realized it was coming in straight, but the ball went off his mitt and his chest protector for a passed ball. The plate ump, apparently distracted by Wieters' movement, called the pitch a ball. Wieters went to the mound and conferred with Strop after the cross-up. Strop then threw another good slider and Martin swung and missed for what should have been strike three, but because of the missed call, it was only strike two. After that, Strop lost the strike zone. He ended up walking Martin, then walked the next batter to force in a run and gave up a two-run single to Ichiro Suzuki to tie the game. If the second pitch to Martin had been called a strike, the inning would have been over after the third pitch. The Orioles would have gone on to win, 10-3, and the game would never have been remembered as being so dramatic as to be labeled an Orioles Classic. I have to wonder, though - why would Martin, already down in the count 0-1, have been taking all the way on a fast ball down the middle? Surely he didn't want to go down 0-2. Unless Chavez read Wieters' sign better than Strop did, and somehow signaled Martin that the pitch was going to be a slider low and outside.
  2. I played two years of baseball for my high school. The school wasn't big enough that they needed to cut anybody - if you went out for the team, you made the team, although you didn't necessarily play very much. I really wasn't good enough to belong on the varsity, but they put me on the varsity my senior year, rather than have me take playing time away from a younger player on the JV team. I had only two at-bats that senior year. On one of those at-bats, I came up in the last of the seventh when we were trailing by six runs and the coach gave me the bunt sign. Of course, the bunt was the last thing the other team was expecting in that situation, so I beat it out for a base hit. I can claim that I finished my varsity career with a .500 batting average.
  3. It seems like we've been complaining for the entire 21st century about how hard it is for the Orioles to contend in a division featuring perennial powerhouses like the Yankees and Red Sox. So, when I saw this thread, I thought that this year's World Series champions would serve as an excellent counter-example to the proposition that a team needs to lose for three years in order to win the Series. Surely it's been a long time since Boston has had three losing seasons. Well, the last time they had three losing seasons in a row was 1992-94. But to my surprise, I found that, although the Red Sox won 93 games in both 2016 and 2017, they had losing records in three of the four years from 2012-2015. The only year of those four in which they had a winning record was 2013 - and they won the World Series that year. If the Orioles want to prep themselves for a world championship by losing for three years out of four, I won't complain too much if they bring home an odd championship somewhere in the middle.
  4. WillyM

    Today's Game HOF nominees

    You're absolutely right. I had completely forgotten that Carter ever played for the Orioles.
  5. WillyM

    Today's Game HOF nominees

    An article on the Orioles' website notes that a committee called the Today's Game committee has submitted a list of 10 nominees for the Hall of Fame. These are separate from the Baseball Writers of America list of nominees. I thought it was interesting that, although only one of the ten (Davey Johnson) played the bulk of his career for the Orioles, five of the other nine also appeared in an Oriole uniform at one time or another. Those five are Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Lou Piniella (who appeared in four games as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner), and Lee Smith.
  6. WillyM

    The 1916 Red Sox

    The thread about this year's World Series started with a post featuring the cover of the program for the 1916 World Series between the Dodgers and Red Sox. After the conclusion of the Series, with people saying that this year's team was the greatest Red Sox team ever, I took a look back to see how they might compare to those 1916 Sox. It immediately became obvious that the two teams just can't be compared, because the style of play has changed so much. 1916 was still the dead ball era, so the home run statistics are vastly different. Those 1916 Red Sox hit a grand total of 14 home runs for the entire season. The Yankees led the American League with a total of 35 (the Cubs led the National with 46). Three players tied for the Red Sox club leadership in home runs with three apiece. One of them was a pitcher named Ruth. The other two were center fielder Tilly (or Tillie) Walker and backup first baseman Del Gainer. To give you an idea of how baseball changed when it came out of the dead ball era, six years later Tilly Walker hit 37 home runs for the Philadelphia Athletics, more than the whole Yankees team had hit to lead the league in 1916. Walker didn't win the home run title in 1922, finishing second to Ken Williams of the Browns, who hit 39. Walker's former teammate, the Babe, who had hit 54 in 1920 and 59 in 1921, missed about a quarter of the season in 1922 and wound up with 35. One other note about 1916 - the man who led the American League in home runs that year (with 12) was Wally Pipp of the Yankees - the same Wally Pipp who was taken out of the lineup nine years later to give a start to a young guy named Gehrig - the first of 2,130 straight games in which Gehrig would be the Yankees' starting first baseman.
  7. WillyM

    2018 World Series (Dodgers vs. Red Sox)

    What would a Red Sox - Dodgers World Series be without an ex-Oriole? Brooklyn Manager Wilbert Robinson played for the Baltimore Orioles in three different leagues, the American Association, National League, and American League. He finished his playing career as player-manager of the Orioles for the final three months of the 1902 season, before the club moved to New York in 1903.
  8. WillyM

    2018 ALCS: Astros vs. Red Sox

    I really thought Houston could knock the Red Sox out, but obviously I was wrong. The Red Sox played back-to-back five-games series against two teams that each won 100 or more games this season, and went 8-2 in those games. You've got to give them their due. That was impressive.
  9. WillyM

    The Buck Showalter Appreciation Thread

    I also want to express my appreciation for Buck's work. After the way he brought the team back into contention after all those years of sub-.500 records, he will never owe me a thing. I will also admit to being perhaps the only person in the world who thought Buck was making absolutely the right decision by bringing in Ubaldo Jimenez to face the Blue Jays in the bottom of the 11th in the 2016 wild card game. It has been almost universally forgotten that Ubaldo had pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball against those very same Blue Jays five days earlier. Maybe Buck could have brought Britton in instead of Jimenez. Maybe Zach would have held the Jays scoreless in the 11th, and the 12th, and goodness knows however many more innings it might have taken before the Oriole offense would have scored another run. Then again, maybe he would have gotten lit up real quickly and the Orioles would have lost the game anyway. But I'm sure Buck knew that whatever move he made would be second-guessed if it didn't work out, just as John Gibbons knew it as he managed Toronto in that same game. It goes with the territory of being a manager. Of course, all the moves Gibbons made worked. His Jays won that game. And now he's an ex-manager, just like Buck is.
  10. No, I don't. I moved to the Philadelphia area in the 1970's and to York County, PA in 1995. I still live in York County. But when I arrived in York County and discovered that I had access to Orioles telecasts on MASN's forerunner, Home Team Sports, I thought I'd arrived in heaven.
  11. I grew up in upstate New York, in the Albany area. A lot of people were Yankees fans, but there were Red Sox fans, Giants fans, and Dodgers fans (this was the mid-1950's). So there wasn't any one team that everybody rooted for. My father subscribed to Sports Illustrated magazine. In either 1955 or 1956, when I was six or seven years old, SI's preseason baseball issue included full-color pictures of all the major league teams' uniforms. I decided it was time for me to choose a favorite team. My favorite color was orange, so I looked to see which team's uniform included more orange than anyone else's. And the Orioles, with the orange script Orioles across the chest, with the little orange bird and the orange bill on the cap, were the clear choice. Some years later, I found out it was possible to order an Orioles cap by mail for 75 cents. I wrote out a nice letter, as professional as I could make it look in my childish scrawl, and got out three quarters to put in the envelope with the letter. Then I put a stamp on the envelope and hurried to the mailbox to send it off to Baltimore. And when I got back home, I found my three quarters still sitting on the kitchen table. I had forgotten to enclose them with the envelope. The Orioles sent me the cap anyway. I wore it proudly for many years. Considering the number of times I've gone to Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards in the ensuing years, I'd say sending me that cap was a pretty good investment for the Orioles.
  12. WillyM

    Final series of the season. Will you be there?

    I'm planning to go to Sunday's game. It's not definite at this point that it will be Adam Jones' last game in an Oriole uniform, but I want to be there in case it is. I'm going to feel somewhat like I felt 42 years and one day earlier. Who knows what the Orioles' starting pitcher in Sunday's game will be doing seven years from now? If anybody is curious about what those last two sentences are referring to, check the Sept. 29, 1976 post on the Orioles History board.
  13. WillyM

    Sept. 29, 1976

    As the end of the 1976 season neared, Orioles icon Brooks Robinson made a comment to the effect that he wasn't sure whether he would come back and play another season or not. The Orioles' front office hurriedly let it be known that the final home game of the season on Sept. 29 would be declared "Thanks, Brooks" Night, just in case Brooks really did decide to go ahead and retire. Even though it was a weeknight and I had to be back at work in Philadelphia the next morning, I didn't want to miss Brooks' last home appearance, so I made my way to Baltimore for the game. Apparently not too many fans believed that Brooks would really retire (though, considering his performance in 1977, perhaps he should have) as the official announced attendance was only 8,119. I guess there was a brief ceremony before the game, though I don't remember any specifics. The Orioles lost the game, 6-3. Although Doug DeCinces had pretty much taken over the job of third baseman for Baltimore, Brooks started this game at third base. He went hitless in his first three at-bats but produced a single in his final trip to the plate in the eighth inning. He was removed for pinch-runner Bob Bailor, as those of us in attendance gave him a standing ovation. A couple of other interesting notes about that game. Henry Aaron, playing with the Milwaukee Brewers that night, produced the final extra-base hit (a double) and scored the final run of his major league career. And making the first start of his major league pitching career that night was Scott McGregor, who seven years later would pitch a shutout in the deciding game of the World Series. He is still the last pitcher to win a World Series game for the Orioles. I remember this night as what may be the final game of Adam Jones' days with the Orioles approaches this Sunday. If any current Oriole approaches Brooks' status as the most respected veteran member of the team, Mr. Jones surely fits the description. I'll be there on Sunday, and it's going to feel a bit like that September day 42 years ago.
  14. WillyM

    Billy O'Dell

    I've never heard of foul lines made of wood anywhere else, but I've seen a number of sources recounting O'Dell's homer (surely the most softly-hit home run ever by an Oriole), and they are all in agreement that the reason why the ball took the weird hop past Smith was because the line was made of wood. I wonder if they had to dig those wooden foul lines out of the ground when the Colts started playing football at Memorial Stadium in the fall.
  15. WillyM

    Billy O'Dell

    I have a book called Tales from the Orioles Dugout, a collection of interviews with 36 former Orioles compiled by Louis Berney, first copyrighted in 2004. One of the players he interviewed was O'Dell. O'Dell was, indeed, the first Orioles bonus baby. At the time, a bonus baby was defined as a young player who signed for at least the magnificent sum of $4,000, roughly what some of today's players receive for one pitch in one at-bat. The rules said that a bonus baby had to remain on the major league roster for two years, which explains why O'Dell never pitched in the minors. He was signed after his junior season at Clemson in 1954 and remained with the Orioles for the rest of that year. He did not pitch in 1955, due to military service. O'Dell and Gus Triandos were the two Oriole representatives on the 1958 AL All-Star team. Triandos started at catcher, but was removed in favor of Yogi Berra in the sixth inning, a move which earned Casey Stengel a loud round of boos from the hometown Baltimore fans. But Stengel then brought O'Dell in to pitch in the seventh inning and left him in for the rest of the game. O'Dell retired all nine NL batters he was called on to face, including names like Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, and Ernie Banks. That performance earned him the MVP award for the game. It was the first time an MVP had ever been named for the All-Star Game, and no sort of ceremony had been established, so O'Dell said they brought a trophy over to his locker and just gave it to him. O'Dell sort of wished he could have won the award after they started giving cars to All-Star MVP's. O'Dell was also involved in one of the most unusual plays in Oriole history. On May 19, 1959, he came to bat in the second inning with Billy Gardner on first base and two out. O'Dell hit a little looper over the first baseman's head. The ball landed squarely on the foul line at Memorial Stadium, which at the time was made of wood instead of being a simple chalk line. The ball bounced high over the head of charging White Sox right fielder Al Smith and rolled all the way out to the right field corner. By the time Smith could reverse directions and chase the ball down, Gardner and O'Dell had both scored. O'Dell was credited with an inside-the-park homer and both RBIs in what wound up as a 2-1 Oriole victory.