Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No Miracle on 33rd Street

Manager Earl Weaver once again made his cast of characters and platoon players overachieve.  Baltimore won 90 games and finished about 7 or 8 better than anticipated.  Thanks to the Red Sox great start and the Yankees great finish, the O's were never really in contention.The closest they got to a pennant race was on September 17th when they were 6 1/2 out.  The big boys kept on winning and the O's were never able to gain any ground.  The disappointment of this season would be erased the following year as this same group really overachieved and won the AL Pennant and took the Pirates to game 7 before folding.

When you look at the numbers you really get a deep appreciation for the talent of Earl Weaver for getting the most out of his charges.  This was a team that finished 10th in batting average and 9th in runs scored, yet the still won 90.  Weaver's strategy was always predicated on the 3 run homer, which he must have gotten his fair share of considering his team was ranked 3rd in homers in the AL.  4 guys hit 20 or more homers on this team, but not one player ecliped the .300 mark.  Kenny Singleton hit 20 homers and batted .293.  He was the closest to the .300 plateau.  Second year man Eddie Murray did not suffer from the sophomore jink one bit as he chipped in with 27 roundtrippers and a .285 batting average.  Doug DeCinces, who finally escaped from the large shadow of Brooks Robinson had a great year at the hot corner hitting .286 with 28 dingers.  As usual the team was strong up the middle with Rick Dempsey behind the plate and the keystone combo of Rich Dauer and Mark Belanger.  The bench was decent.  Billy Smith and Kiko Garcia backed up the infield and allowed Weaver to pinch hit for Belanger late in games with guys like Terry Crowley and Gary Roenicke.

Pitching is always the hallmark of Weaver's teams.  32 year old Jim Palmer had his usual HOF caliber season.  Palmer, 21-12, 2.46, was the true ace throwing nearly 300 innings and completing 19 games.  Weaver's 4 man rotation completed 65 games, which was tops in the league.  With Don "Full Pack" Stanhouse closing games out of the pen the starters needed to close the door.  Besides Stanhouse, Weaver had little to no other options out of the pen.  Joe Kerrigan, Tippy Martinez and Nellie Briles all posted ERA's just below 5.00.  John Flinn was even worse with a 8.04 ERA in 13 relief appearances.  This completely flawed team most certainly overachieved thanks to Weaver's brilliance.

13 new cards in total were added to round out the O's 1978 missing card set.

On December 7, 1977, the Seattle Mariners traded López to the Baltimore Orioles with pitcher Tommy Moore in exchange for pitcher Mike Parrott.  In 1978, López spent the entire season with the O's. He batted .238 with 21 runs, 46 hits, six doubles, four home runs, 20 RBIs, five stolen bases, and seven caught stealing in 129 games. López was demoted to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings in 1979, his final professional season. With the Red Wings, he batted .282 with 38 runs, 66 hits, 10 doubles, two triples, six home runs, 30 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases in 62 games. López led the International League in stolen bases and caught stealing.  I found a neat photo of him while doing a Google search.  It had a blue screen background, which allowed me to easily cut and paste it on top of a background photo of Memorial Stadium.
Ford made his major league debut on September 2, 1978 against the Chicago White Sox.  He pitched 8⅓ innings, allowed no runs, struck out two, and received the win.  He pitched in one more game in 1978 for Baltimore, again not allowing a run, and finished the season with a 1–0 record and an ERA of 0.00.  Ford split time between the majors and minors again in 1979, playing in nine major league games and starting two of them. He pitched 30 innings, posted a 2–1 record and had an ERA of 2.10.  He became a main part of the roster in 1980, pitching in 25 games, where he pitched nearly 70 innings and had an ERA of 4.26.  He played in 15 games the following season, and played in his final major league game on September 9, 1981.  Ford continued to play in the minor leagues for a few years, then retired from baseball in 1985.  Erik sent me this autographed photo.
Earl Weaver nicknamed him "Full Pack", because he (Weaver) would smoke a full pack of cigarettes due to Stanhouse's nerve wracking relief performances.  Stanhouse saved 24 games for Weaver in 1978, and was truly Baltimore's only reliable choice out of the pen.  He would spend 1 more season in Baltimore, almost mirroring his results of 1978, then he signed as a free agent with the Dodgers and developed arm trouble.  This photo was also taken with a blue screen background, which enabled me to simply superimpose it on top of a great photo of old MemorialStadium.
Stephenson, a career minor leaguer, had just 1 sustained shot in the big leagues back in 1972 with the Brewers.  During that season he appeared in 35 games and finished 3-5, 3.25, which is pretty credible.  Despite pitching just 80 innings he led the league with 7 wild pitches and had control issues.  His walk to strikeout ration was an abysmal 1 to 1.  He would resurface in the majors in 1977 for 1 game with the O's and again in 1978 for 2 games.  He would spend 11 unimpressive seasons in the minors.  After hanging it up in 1979 he returned to the Oriole organization as a minor league pitching coach.  I colorized this photo, which came from the O's 25 anniversary card set that was issued in B&W.
Hendricks was one of the most beloved figures in the Baltimore community and considered the franchises "good will ambassador".  1978 marked his third tour of duty with the franchise and a return after spending 2 seasons in New York winning pennants and backing up Thurman Munson.  During his prime he was the lefty half of the O's catching platoon splitting time with Andy Etchebarren.  By 1978 he was more of a bullpen catcher, who got into 13 games and hit .333 (6-18).  He would hang up the "tools of ignorance" after getting into 1 game in 1979 and join the O's coaching staff officially. This photo came from a fans' personal collection taken during Spring Training 1978.  It shows Ellie with his usual smile signing autographs for the kids.
In 1977, Roenicke was traded with Joe Kerrigan and Don Stanhouse to the Baltimore Orioles for Rudy May, Randy Miller, and Bryn Smith.  Roenicke appeared in 27 games in his first season with the Orioles in 1978. A year later, in his first full season, he had perhaps the best season of his career, appearing in 133 games and hitting .261 with 25 home runs and 64 runs batted in. He even made the top ten in at-bats per home run, with one home run every 15.0 AB. The next year, he hit .239 with 10 home runs, 28 runs batted in. In 1981 he hit .269, but his power numbers were still significantly down, slugging only .384, whereas he had slugged .508 in his rookie season. In 1982, he hit .270 with a slugging percentage of .499 in 137 games.  After 8 seasons in Baltimore he was dealt to the Yankees in 1986 for Rex Hudler.  He played 1 year in NY then 2 in Atlanta before hanging it up.  This unique photo shows him wearing a facemask on his batting helmet to protect him from further injury.
As the saying goes, "those who can, do, those who can't coach".  Kerrigan was one of those who the latter applied to.  After 2 average seasons in Montreal he arrived in Baltimore and had a horrible year out of the pen (3-1, 4.77, 3sv) in 1978.  Other than a 2 1/3 inning stint in 1980 he would spend the rest of his days playing in the minors before becoming a well traveled pitching coach.  This photo comes straight from his 1979 card.
Flinn pitched in all or part of four seasons between 1978 and 1982. He had two separate stints with the Baltimore Orioles, the first in 1978-1979, and the second in 1982, in between which he pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1980.  His 8.04 ERA in 15 games in '78 would destine him back to the minors.  I partially colorized this B&W photo that I found while searching Google.
In his one forgettable season in Charm City Anderson hit .094 (no typo) in 32 at bats.  He wound up on the scrap heap at the end of the season and found his way back to Philadelphia for his 3rd shot in the city of brotherly love.  During his career he was the prototypical 4th outfield.  In Baltimore he was more like a 6th outfielder.  I found this autographed photo on Amazon, which was taken at Yankee Stadium.
On September 1, 1978, Stewart made his Major League debut for the Orioles, fanning seven consecutive batters en route to a 9–3 win over the Chicago White Sox. In 1981, Stewart led the American League in ERA. Stewart appeared in the 1979 World Series and 1983 World Series as a member of the Orioles.  During the '78 season Stewart appeared in just 2 games and had a 1-1, 3.18.  He spent 8 seasons in total with the O's and 10 in the majors.  His post baseball life has been tragic to say the least.  He lost a child to Cystic Fibrosis then spiraled into drug abuse.  He is now serving time in jail as a repeat offender.  This card is from his 1979 Record Breaker card for the 7 consecutive strikeouts.
Crowley played for the Orioles from 1969–1973 and 1976–1982. He was a backup player that could play the outfield and first base. When the designated hitter rule was implemented, he was the first Oriole to fulfill this role. However, he was best known during his playing career for being a pinch hitter. As of the end of 2008, Crowley's 108 career pinch-hits is still the 13th-most all-time, tied with Denny Walling.  In 95 at bats in '78 he hit .253 with 12 key RBI's.  This photo came from his '81 Fleer card.
The 6'7" Stoddard's athletic claim to fame was in basketball, not baseball.  As a member of the NC State 1974 NCAA championship basketball team he helped dethrone Bill Walton's undefeated UCLA team to win the title.  Stoddard saw limited action with the O's in '78 pitching in 8 games and recording an 0-1, 6.00 record in 18 innings of work.  He would rebound nicely (all puns intended) in 1979 and go 3-1, 1.71 in 29 games.  By 1980 he was a primetime member of the O's pen.  After a disastrous 1983 season (4-3, 6.09) he was shipped to the Cubs.  He would add stops in San Diego, The Bronx and Cleveland before hanging it up after the 1989 season.  I found this great action shot on ebay.
Dimmel drafted by the Baltimore Orioles from the Dodgers in the 1976 Rule V Draft. After two seasons with the Orioles he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for Benny Ayala.  In 1978 he was used exclusively as a pinch runner and defensive replacement.  He scored 2 runs and was caught stealing once, but never had an official plate appearance in 8 games.  In 25 games the previous season (1977) he holy had 5 at bats, but 8 runs scored.  Dimmel would spend 4 seasons in Triple A and hit just .242 lifetime.  His final season, 1980 was at Springfield (STL - AAA) where he hit .194.  He stole 144 bases in 8 minor league seasons.  This photo ws probably taken during spring training and was supplied by an elf named Erik.

No comments:

Post a Comment