The Hot Stove is ice cold and we're still three weeks from Spring Training. That means my Oriole thoughts turn to trivia and I decided to compile the Baltimore Oriole All-Geezer team. What defines an Oriole geezer? I decided to start with seasons turned in by an Oriole when then were 35 or older. The older the player the better. The roster should be 25 men and I would provide for the traditional 10 pitchers/15 batters breakdown. Since the pitchers are easier, I decided to start with them.
Hoyt Wilhem - 1959 - Age 36
Wilhem was primarily a reliever up until 1959. But when the Orioles claimed the future Hall of Famer off of waivers from the Indians, Oriole manager Paul Richards had the radical idea to convert Wilhem to a starting pitcher at the ripe old age of 36. Wilhem responded by going 15-11 with a 2.19 ERA for a bad 69-85 team. The old man pitched 13 complete games! An unexpected move gave an unexpected result as Wilhem made the All-Star team in his first full season as a starter. He is the ace of the Geezer staff.
Jim Palmer - 1982 - Age 36
After an injury plagued '81 season, Palmer returned for his final full season and pitched masterfully. Palmer posted a 3.13 ERA over 227 IP but only went 15-5 due to lack of run support. Palmer finished second in the Cy Young voting and the O's would also place an agonizingly close second to the Milwaukee Brewers in the Al East. One hell of a last hurrah.
Mike Cuellar - 1972 - Age 35
Ten years before Palmer, Cuellar also turned in a masterful performance for another disappointing Oriole squad. The Birds led the division on September 1st but faded down the stretch and finished in third place. Anyway, Cuellar went 18-12 with a 2.57 ERA and would continue to pitch well for three more years giving him the most eligible Geezer seasons of any Oriole.
Jimmy Key - 1997 - Age 36
Baltimore signed Jimmy Key away from the Yankees to attempt to wrest the division away from New York and make a run at the World Series. One out of two ain't bad. The O's took the division and Key was their second best starter (behind Mike Mussina) as he went 16-10 with a 3.43 ERA. Unfortunately, injuries would end Key's career the next year.
Robin Roberts - 1962 - Age 35
Hall of Famer Roberts is best known for his hurling for the Phillies but he came to the Orioles in 1962 and put up a fine effort for a very mediocre Batimore club. 10-9 with a 2.78 ERA. Not a bad line for our 5th starter, is it?
Mike Flanagan - 1991 - Age 39
Flannagan came back to Baltimore for a second (short) stint as a reliever and excelled. At least for one year. Flanny pitched 98 innings with a 2.38 ERA. A fine long reliever for this team as he is the Geeziest at a downright decrepit 39.
Buddy Groom - 2002 - Age 36
I had forgotten what a bad man Buddy Groom was in '02. Lefties were shaking in their cleats when he took the mound as they only managed a .181 BA against the crafty LHP. 60 IP with a teeny little 1.60 ERA. Welcome to the club Buddy.
Stu Miller - 1965 - Age 37
Time for some righties to balance out the two lefties. Miller relieved for Baltimore throughout the 1960's and in '65 he won 14 games in relief, saved 24 games and spun a sterling 1.89 ERA. According to Milt Pappas, Miller had three speeds for his pitches: slow, slower and slowest. Every bullpen needs a junkballer.
Dick Hall - 1969 - Age 38
Hall was a member of four Oriole World Series teams and pitched brilliantly in relief for the '69 version. 1.92 ERA over 67 innings while winning 5 games.
Lee Smith - 1994 - Age 36
The most accomplished of the Geezer-eligible closers, Smith's impressive career included one very impressive season in Baltimore. Smith's ERA was 3.29 (in a year when the league ERA was 5.00) and he saved 33 games for a team that only won 63.
Here's the roster so far. Next time, the hitters.
Name W L ERA SV IP K BB
Hoyt Wilhem 15 11 2.19 0 226 139 37
Jim Palmer 15 5 3.13 0 227 103 63
Mike Cuellar 18 12 2.57 0 248 132 71
Jimmy Key 16 10 3.43 0 212 141 82
Robin Roberts 10 9 2.78 0 191 102 41
Mike Flanagan 2 7 2.38 3 98 55 25
Buddy Groom 3 2 1.60 2 62 48 12
Stu Miller 14 7 1.89 24 119 104 32
Dick Hall 5 2 1.92 6 65 31 9
Lee Smith 1 4 3.29 33 38 42 11