It’s likely few Orioles fans paid notice earlier this month when the team optioned first baseman David Washington to Triple-A Norfolk. In his first major league action, Washington (pictured above) was 0-for-6 with five strikeouts, barely registering a blip on the club’s radar.
Washington, however, has a chance to join a somewhat exclusive — and dubious — group. If he doesn’t return to the Orioles, he’d become the 33rd position player in modern franchise history to make an appearance for the team without registering a base hit.
Yes, we looked it up and counted.
Here’s a look at some other notable players who took an 0-fer in their Orioles’ careers.
The big names
You might expect that most players on the 0-for-Orioles list are unrecognizable names, guys who were only with the club for a cup of coffee and had undistinguished careers. And, for the most part, your assumption would be correct. There are, however, a couple of exceptions.
One is Lou Piniella. As a player, Piniella is probably most closely associated with the New York Yankees (for whom he played 11 seasons) and Kansas City Royals (five). He was also a legendary manager, helming five different clubs from 1986-2010 and winning a World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in 1990.
But few may remember that Piniella actually started his major league playing career with the Orioles. He appeared in four games in 1964 at age 20, one as a pinch-hitter and three as a pinch-runner, and grounded out in his only at-bat. He never made an appearance in the field, and didn’t make it back to the bigs before the Orioles traded him in 1966 to Cleveland.
On the other end of the spectrum is outfielder Bobby Thomson, who cemented his place in baseball history with “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” on Oct. 3, 1951, his walkoff home run that propelled the New York Giants to the NL pennant on the last day of the season. Nine years later, the 36-year-old Thomson ended his major league career with a brief three-game stint in Baltimore. He went 0-for-6 with three strikeouts.
The never-swung-a-bat club
It’s hard to get a hit when you don’t get a single plate appearance, which was the case for two Orioles position players. One was Tommy Shields, who made two pinch-running appearances in July 1992.
The other was outfielder Adam Stern, whom the Orioles acquired in the Javy Lopez trade with the Red Sox in 2006. Stern played two innings in center field in April 2007 but never batted. Though his last big league action came in 2010, Stern is still involved in baseball today. As Dean Jones Jr., noted, the Canadian-born Stern coached the Orioles’ 2017 second round draft pick, shortstop Adam Hall, in their hometown of London, Ontario.
An honorary member of the never-swung-a-bat club was Ozzie Virgil, the first Dominican-born player in the major leagues. You see, Virgil did get one plate appearance with the Orioles — but he never had the opportunity to swing the bat, because he was intentionally walked. It happened April 24, 1962, when the Minnesota Twins gave Virgil a free pass as a pinch-hitter in a ninth-inning Orioles rally. The next batter, rookie Boog Powell, won the game with a walkoff single.
Virgil thus ended his Orioles career with a 1.000 OBP. I’m pretty sure that record won’t be topped.
The defensive specialists
Some players on the hitless Orioles list were never really intended to hit; they were mainly on the roster for their glove or their speed.
Take Mike Dimmel, for instance. Dimmel (an Oriole from 1977-1978) appeared in 33 games with the club — the most of any position player without a hit — and never once was in the starting lineup. In fact, he never appeared in a game earlier than the sixth inning. Dimmel was used exclusively as a late-inning pinch-runner and defensive specialist, usually replacing Ken Singleton in right field. Dimmel had only six plate appearances for the Orioles, but scored 10 runs.
Rex Hudler, too, mainly served the role of replacing a defensively challenged starter in the late innings. In Hudler’s case, it was second baseman Alan Wiggins. Most of Hudler’s 14 games with the Orioles in 1986 were as Wiggins’ defensive substitute with the club holding a late lead. As a result, Hudler’s first 12 appearances with the Orioles were all victories. Hudler, though, had only one plate appearance, in which he flied out.
The longest droughts
Of the 32 hitless Orioles, 30 of them had fewer than 10 plate appearances with the club. But two others got more than 15 plate appearances and still couldn’t deliver a hit.
The second-longest drought belongs to Carl Warwick, who was 0-for-14 with three walks for the 1965 Orioles. Warwick had picked up some clutch hits in the 1964 World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, but never fit well in a pinch-hitting role in Baltimore. Upset by his lack of playing time, Warwick was traded to the Cubs in spring training of 1966.
As for the longest hitless career with the Orioles, that dubious title belongs to catcher Tim Laker in 1997. Called up for nearly a month to replace injured starter Chris Hoiles, Laker went hitless in 18 plate appearances, going 0-for-14 with nine strikeouts, although he did drive in a run on a sacrifice fly. Laker ended up playing parts of 11 seasons in the majors as a spare catcher.
Other notable hitless Orioles
The one and dones: There are two players on the 0-fer list who each appeared in only one major league game in their careers: outfielder Roger Marquis (who went 0-for-1 on Sept. 25, 1955) and catcher Tom Patton (0-for-2 on April 30, 1957).
The quick-change artist: Outfielder L.J. Hoes was 0-for-4 as an Oriole before he was penciled into the starting lineup against the Houston Astros July 31, 2013. Prior to the game, though, Hoes was traded to Houston as part of a package for righty Bud Norris — and was immediately inserted into the Astros’ lineup against the Orioles, going 0-for-5 that day.
The draft dud: One unfortunate member of the hitless Orioles club was their first-round pick in 1977, Drungo Hazewood, who went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. Dan Connolly recently ranked Hazewood No. 5 in his list of the Orioles’ biggest draft disappointments.
The complete list of hitless Orioles
Ray Barker (6 PAs, 1960), Quintin Berry (2 PAs, 2014), Raul Casanova (1 PA, 2002), Tom Chism (3 PAs, 1979), Midre Cummings (2 PAs, 2005), Mike Dimmel (6 PAs, 1977-1978), Chuck Essegian (1 PA, 1961), Drungo Hazewood (5 PAs, 1980), L.J. Hoes (4 PAs, 2012-2013), Rex Hudler (1 PA, 1986), Jim Hutto (5 PAs, 1975), Dan Johnson (5 PAs, 2013), Tim Laker (18 PAs, 1997), Joe Mahoney (4 PAs, 2012), Roger Marquis (1 PA, 1955), Charlie Maxwell (4 PAs, 1955), Eddie Miksis (3 PAs, 1957-1958), Bob Molinaro (7 PAs, 1979), Tom Patton (2 PAs, 1957), Cord Phelps (3 PAs, 2014), Lou Piniella (1 PA, 1964), Del Rice (1 PA, 1960), Eddie Robinson (4 PAs, 1957), Guillermo Rodriguez (7 PAs, 2009), Melvin Rosario (3 PAs, 1997), Willie Royster (4 PAs, 1981), Tommy Shields (0 PAs, 1992), Adam Stern (0 PAs, 2007), Bobby Thomson (6 PAs, 1960), Shane Turner (1 PA, 1991), Ozzie Virgil (1 PA, 1962), Carl Warwick (17 PAs, 1965).