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Baltimore Underrated

Looking at the history of Baltimore baseball, we see two iterations: old-school, hard-nosed baseball and the

age brought on by the St. Louis Browns moving. I hope to do both sides justice in this explanation. No present players will be mentioned as I will look at the overall history of the club.

Don Buford:

A solid leadoff man for the Orioles in their first true dynasty since moving in the late 60s and early 70s, Don was able to set the table for players like the Robinsons (not related Brooks and Frank) and Merv Rettenmund. He equally spent time in Chicago with the White Sox and the O’s, and has a bit of history attached to his name. He, alongside Dustin Pedroia in 2007, are the only two players to hit a lead-off home run in the World Series. While not necessarily a true power-hitter or a great fielder, he could hit for contact and put up a respectable .284 career average during his time in Baltimore, with his best average coming in 1969 with a .291 average. Don was able to represent the O’s in his lone All-Star game in 1971. He also finished in top 15 MVP votes after a strong 1968 year, and was often in the high 140s-150s in terms of OPS+.

Jeff Conine:

A contributor to the Marlins’ 2003 and 1997 magical balderdash runs to the top, Jeff was able to be a fan favorite in Charm City. While he may not be immediately recognizable as an Oriole, I thought it would be important to list him for the contributions he made to the club. Jeff could be a dual threat in the lineup: he could be great at getting runs home or he could bring a little oomph at the bottom of the lineup. Jeff was able to be a great team leader in the clubhouse and was a strong presence to a city that needed it after the old guard of Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray left town. Jeff was not an Oriole for a long time, but he is the prime example of being a plug for a short time before finishing a great career.

Urban Shocker:

Other than having a great name, Shocker was a legend in the early days of baseball, especially with the Browns (now the Orioles). Playing for six years in St. Louis sandwiched by stints with the Yankees, Urban brought respectability to the Browns when they were a laughing stock. Alongside Dick Sisler and Virgil Trucks, Urban made St. Louis a dark horse for the World Series in the early 20s. Arguably, his best season was 1922, where he went 24-17 and placed the Browns one game before the title series, only to lose out to those dang Yankees. Urban completed 29 of his 38 starts for a 2.97 ERA in 348 innings, finishing within top 15 for MVP votes. For his career in Baltimore, he averaged an 18-11 record with a 3.19 ERA.

Submitted by Dave Hummel

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