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The forgotten third baseman - Doug DeCinces

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The Orioles' website currently has an article on the best third basemen in Orioles' history.  Fourth on the list is Doug DeCinces, who had the misfortune of being the guy who had to follow Brooks Robinson's act.

While DeCinces didn't have Brooks' longevity, he was good enough to play 15 seasons in the major leagues.  He had some power, hitting 237 major league homers.

I remember two plays in particular from DeCinces' career.

One was a night game at Yankee Stadium.  I don't remember the date or the year.  But DeCinces hit perhaps the hardest ball I have ever seen hit that wasn't a home run.  It was a line shot to deepest left center.  The ball hit the padded wall right at the distance marker (which, as I remember, read 433 ft.) with a BOOM! that could be heard all over the stadium.  It rebounded off the wall so hard that the Yankee center fielder didn't have to go very far to get it.  DeCinces wound up with a double, and he actually had to hustle a little bit to beat the throw to second base.

The other play came in the fifth inning of Game 4 of the 1979 ALCS.  The Orioles had taken the first two games of the series but had blown a lead and lost Game 3 the night before.  Entering the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles held a 3-0 lead, but the Angels' first three batters reached base and all of a sudden there was a real possibility that the lead was about to go up in smoke.

Scott McGregor got one out on a fly ball too shallow to allow anyone to score.  The next batter, Jim Anderson, hit a hard one-hopper over third base.  If it had gone down the line and into the left field corner, at least two and maybe all three runners would have scored.

DeCinces dove to his right and made a backhanded grab.  While still on the ground, he reached over and touched third base to get the out on the runner coming from second.  Then he got to his feet and fired to first, in time for an inning-ending double play.  The Angels had a real chance to turn the game around, and DeCinces took it away from them, just like that.  The demoralized Angel bullpen gave up five runs after two were out in the seventh, and the Orioles were on to the World Series.

One last memory about DeCinces.  I remember sitting in Section 34 for a game when Wild Bill Hagy was in his heyday.  Everyone knows how Wild Bill would spell out O-R-I-O-L-E-S with body language, but you had to sit in his section to know that he had special cheers for certain players.  When Ken Singleton came up, Bill would lead the section in a chorus of "Come on, Ken - put it in the bullpen!"  He also had a special cheer for DeCinces, though it involved ignoring the French pronunciation of DeCinces' name.  It was "Over the fences, Doug DeSenses!"

Of course, Bill's best cheer was for Rich Dauer.  "Come on Rich - you son of a - gun!" 😀

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I remember one play where he went after a short fly ball near the stands behind third and went throat first into the railing.  Worst feeling in the world.  Losing the ability to swallow.

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DeCinces was my favorite player as a kid.  The day that my Dad's boss stopped by and told me that they'd traded him for Disco Dan Ford was crushing.  And they didn't even need to do it.  They'd traded him to make room at third for Cal, and then Earl moved Cal to short.  Imagine the '83 Orioles with DeCinces at third instead of Todd Cruz.

The 1982 Orioles probably make the playoffs with DeCinces at third.  After Cal moved to short third was handed by Glenn Gulliver, Rich Dauer and Floyd Rayford.  Rayford fielded .898, Gulliver had a .632 OPS, and Dauer was really a second baseman so playing him forced Lenn Sakata or Bobby Bonner into the lineup.  And Disco Dan had a .650 OPS as the regular RFer while Jim Dwyer and Benny Ayala barely got 300 PAs between them.

From the day of the trade until their careers ended DeCinces was worth 19 wins, including nearly eight in '82, Ford was a little over 1.0.

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I was about 12 when our Cub Scout Troop (maybe Webelos at that age?) took a trip to a game, sat in the upper deck.

One of the fathers that came along was pretty loud and obnoxious.   (His son took after him).

DeCinces booted a ball pretty badly and the father got up and yelled at the top of his longs "Way to pick it, Brooksie!".

Obviously DeCinces never had a chance.   He as never going to live up to Brooks in the minds of a lot of people.

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