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04-30-2012 05:04 PM #16
[QUOTE=Lucky Jim;2739987]Hey, not fair to George Z, who put up a 122 ERA+ w/ the O's and had two years of sub-3.00 ERA (and two years where he led the league in appearances!)
Thanks for sticking up for me, Lucky Jim. The original George Z. was a big guy who threw sidearm without dropping down as far as O'Day.
I grew up three blocks from Memorial Stadium. They were building the thing when I was five and I didn't have a clue. One day these enormous light standards just appeared magically. I took advantage of the parking situation by extorting nickels and dimes (and the rare quarter) from people willing to risk parking their car by the curb on Venable Avenue.
Some of my most vivid "those were the days" memories:
Paul Richards, "the Wizard of Waxahachie." At the time, the first manager/GM since John McGraw. John Eisenberg wrote a great piece about him in 2003. "...Richards could teach the fundamentals of any aspect of the game, especially pitching. He revived the careers of numerous veterans by teaching them a slider he called a 'slip pitch'...Soon after getting his first chance to run an organization, Richards demonstrated his progressive flair...In November 1954, he made a trade with the Yankees involving 17 players, still the largest in baseball history. (An 18th player to be named was not documented.) The next season, Richards went through players like cards in a deck, the turnover so constant that, when asked to assess his pitching staff in July, he replied, 'Do you mean the one coming or going?'... In 1956, he proposed swapping entire 25-man rosters with the Kansas City Athletics, backing off only after the A's asked to take Roger Maris and Clete Boyer out of the deal...But in signing young players, he was really creative. No limit on bidding. Any team could sign any player with the amateur draft still a decade away, and the bidding often involved signing bonuses. The Orioles had budgeted a paltry $100,000 in 1954 but spent more than twice as much on bonuses in 1955 after Richards arrived. 'He just came in and completely bamboozled the owners,' said former Orioles GM Harry Dalton, who joined the front office as assistant scouting director in 1954. Many of Richards' early signings were failures. Bruce Swango, a high school pitcher from rural Oklahoma, didn't own a pair of baseball spikes when he signed in 1955 and couldn't perform in front of crowds. The Orioles gave him a $36,000 bonus and released him nine weeks later." Think Angelos would have hired him ahead of Duquette?
The bleacher seats. Wooden benches so far away from home plate that only inconceivably mammoth homeruns could reach them. Half the price of outfield general admission and separated from those high rent districts by a cyclone fence. The brave and the drunk would sneak closer to the action by inching around the fence on the outside wall and risking what would have been a nasty drop. I did it once, but never wore those underpants again.
The wooden benches themselves. Splinters in your butt as long as cheap chopsticks without the blunted tips.
The 1958 All Star game, the 25th ever I was 10 and had saved all my take from the parking extortion racket to buy a bleacher seat ticket the Sunday morning they went on sale. Got in line three hours before the ticket windows opened and then waited another hour before it was my turn. I poured the carefuly counted conetents of a small brown paper bag on the counter - nickels, dimes, lots of pennies and the rare quarter. The man behind the counter snarled, "I ain't got time to count these, kid." I started to sniffle and the people behind me started to boo. I think it was for the ticket guy, but I'm not sure. He gave me my ticket and I went. The Orioles had two representatives - Gus Triandos, the Golden Greek, and Billy O'Dell a left hand starter they traded to SF just before the transformative 1960 season. The MFY had 10 representatives, but I didn't care. Gus was 1 for 2 with a single and Billy closed out a 4-3 win 3 perfect innings and 2 K's. It was bliss.
1960, the first year of Orioles respectability. 89 and 65, in second place, eight games behind the MFY. (Yes, that's how we felt about them then.) A mega year for Brooks, who was, at age 23, in his sixth year in the majors and third year as a regular. Jim Gentile in his first year with th O's. Ron Hansen, age 22, in his third year in the majors. Marv Breeding, a rookie at the age of 26. Pitching by the "Kiddie Corps" - Milt Pappas age 21 in his third year in the majors; Chuck Estrada a 22 year old rookie; Steve Barber, another 22 year old rookie; and Jerry Walker, age 21 in his third year with the O's. I can only hope that the current generation of fans can soon experience that long-awaited surprise and exhiliration. It happened then with a very young team. Why not now?
As you can see from my avatar, I'm teaching my granddaughter to spell O-R-I-O-L-E-S. We're just getting started. Where's Wild Bill when I need him?
05-01-2012 07:47 AM #17Keys
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