Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Around the Horn: Baltimore Orioles

Time for another entry in the "Around the Horn" series .... up now the Baltimore Orioles.

This team presented me with a conundrum I've yet to face so far in this series, teams that moved cities and changed their identities completely. I considered doing a separate entry on those teams themselves but there wasn't enough content to warrant that.

I mentioned that because through the first half of the 20th century, the Orioles were actually the St. Louis Browns, a team that was at or near the bottom of the American League for most of their existence. I didn't realize until I was digging out Browns cards that Eddie Plank spent the last two years of his career with the team after being jettisoned by the A's in 1914 and spending 1915 in the Federal League.

The Browns only made one appearance ever in the World Series, 1944, where they lost in six games to their National League brethren the Cardinals. Rick Ferrell spent a total of 8 years on and off with the Browns. Ned Garver was an All-Star pitched for the team in their waning years, going 20-12 with a 3.73 ERA for a 1951 Browns team that finished dead last.

Speaking of the 1951 Browns, that's the year that Satchel Paige debuted with the team. It's nice to see Topps producing modern cards of Paige and chronicling his run with the Browns.

This is by far my favorite St. Louis Browns card. It just so happens to also be the first 1952 Topps card I ever bought. I was at one of the local card shops thumbing through the discount vintage box when I came across this for the low, low price of only $4. I couldn't resist the urge so I grabbed it up. I'm slowly adding as many decent 52 Topps cards to my collection as I can. There's no way I'll ever be able to afford the star cards or even some of the "name" players but if I see commons like this at a decent price, I'll gladly snap them up.

Some of you may remember seeing this card during my recap of my most recent card show visit. I figured it was appropriate to show it again here, considering it's now the oldest Orioles card in my collection. The Browns relocated to Baltimore and were rechristened the Orioles after the 1953 season. From what I've been told by fellow bloggers on the card show post, this Preacher Roe card is one of the earliest examples of a "zero year" card out there as Roe never appeared for a single game for Baltimore.

For the longest time, this was my oldest Orioles card, a 1962 Topps Boog Powell rookie card. I remember buying this card from a 3 for $5 vintage bin at a card show a number of years ago. I forgot the other cards that I got from that deal but I just think this is a super cool looking card.

The Orioles have a had a number of great players over the years but perhaps there was none greater that Cal Ripken Jr. Much like Ken Griffey Jr. with the Mariners, if someone mentions the Orioles, I guarantee the first thought goes to Cal Ripken.

Like I did with Griffey, I decided to show off all the Ripken cards in my collection. If my counting was correct, I have 42 different Ripken cards. I guess you could say I have a decent collection of his cards. If I had to pick some favorites, I'd say the Topps Big League card, the Highlight of the Year card, and the Gold Standard card right below it. 

My most interesting card by far is the Leaf "Slideshow" card from 1995. The deal with these is that there's a second card that goes with it and by putting the cards together, you'll get a cool slideshow of the player. For the 90s, it's a pretty interesting concept although 1995 was the last time Leaf would do it with baseball.

Jim Palmer is another Orioles player I tend to collect and I can usually find his cards for a decent price. Photography was not the strong suit of early Fleer cards but I really do like the one of him getting ready to throw.

The Orioles made out like bandits when they got Frank Robinson in the now infamous December 1965 trade with the Reds. The Reds, who thought Robby was over the hill, sent him east for three players, the most notable being Milt Pappas, who did next to nothing in a Reds uniform. Robinson proved the Reds wrong, winning AL MVP in his first season in orange and finishing in the top twelve of MVP voting in all but one season in Baltimore. 

The "other" Robinson on the Orioles was Brooks Robinson, who spent his entire 23-year career manning third. I'm not a super big Brooks Robinson collector but I'll pick up a card of his here and there, especially if it's a neat looking card like the two Stadium Club cards.

One of the most notable "short term stops" in history is Reggie Jackson with Orioles. Everyone remembers his time with the A's and Yankees, but most forget he had a quick stop off in Baltimore during the 1976 season. 

Eddie Murray is more of an unintentional player collection. I've got cards of his from nearly every team he's been with. I guess I should probably add him to the official PC list as I always tend to keep cards of his when I find them in repacks, yard sale purchases, card shows, etc.

Who doesn't love 1971 Topps? The team card I got in one of my best community yard sales hauls of all time a few years ago. My goal for 1971 Topps is just like 1952 Topps, acquire as many of the cards in the set as I can without breaking the bank.

Here's a bunch of random 80s cards. It's really hard to pick a favorite from this batch. Rick Dempsey and Mike Flanagan on mid-80s cards, a fresh-faced Pete Harnisch on an 89 Donruss card, the pop of the orange on Lee May's 1980 Topps card. There's a whole lot to like here.

Fred Lynn as an Oriole is just strange to me. 

I find it a bit strange that Davey Johnson is listed as both "2nd base" and "Manager" on this card. He wouldn't manage the Orioles until 1996 and this card was issued in 1990. Oh well, still, it's the lone oddball card I have in my Orioles cards.

Here's a whole slew of random 90s cards. I'd forgotten Rick Sutcliffe pitched for Baltimore. As a kid, I always thought Mike Mussina would be with the Orioles forever as he was their star pitcher throughout the 90s. Also, how can you not love Brady Anderson climbing the outfield wall?

Chris Sabo spent the 1994 season with the Orioles as a DH/outfielder. His stints with different teams such as the Orioles and White Sox are what led me to be a collector of "short term stops" cards.

Eric Davis had the last great season of his career in 1998 as a member of an O's squad that finished near the bottom of the AL East. He hit .327 with 28 HRs and 89 RBIs and finished in the top 20 of MVP voting.

Joe Carter played the majority of his final season with that same 1998 team and appeared in 85 games before being traded to the Giants for minor leaguer Darin Blood.

I always thought this was a neat card with both Manny Machado and Cal Ripken on it. I really felt like the so-called "pundits" went crazy last summer with the Machado trade stuff and interviewing him about it in the dugout at the All-Star Game was ridiculous.

I like this card mainly because of the old school style uniforms. 

Finally, some newer cards with a random Nick Markakis card thrown in just because of the picture on it. Last season, the Orioles had a horrible record at 47-115, the second worst record since 2000, only behind the 2003 Detroit Tigers who posted a 43-119 record.

Well, that's it for the Orioles/Browns edition of "Around the Horn". Next up will be another team with two identies ... the Texas Rangers/Washington Senators.


  1. Love that 1971 Topps World Champions card! If I was an Orioles fan that card would be on display in my office.

  2. Nice cards here, especially the vintage Browns. I know I'm supposed to dislike the Orioles as a division rival to my Red Sox, but I respect their history and wish they were more competitive. When I was little and hadn't seen cards/pictures of either Brooks or Frank Robinson, I thought they were related (because I thought everyone with the same last name was related lol)