The National Baseball Hall of Fame added four new members to its ranks Wednesday: Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome.
The quartet combined for 75 years in the majors, two MVP awards and 29 All-Star appearances Hoffman notched 601 saves while the slugging trio of Guerrero, Jones and Thome combined for 1,529 home runs and 4,818 RBIs.
The Orioles became well acquainted with a few of these new Hall of Famers over the years. How did they fare against — and in two cases, for — the Orioles in their careers? Let’s take a look.
For the first half of Guerrero’s 16-year career, the Orioles didn’t have to worry about him much. He was safely tucked away in the National League with the Montreal Expos, and the Orioles faced him in just 12 games with relatively little damage done.
But once Guerrero joined the American League in 2004, he became a recurring nightmare for Orioles’ pitchers. He spurned the Orioles in free agency for a six-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels, and, in each of those six seasons, he batted at least .321 with an OPS of 1.000 or higher against Baltimore.
Guerrero also torched the Orioles for four multi-homer games during his Angels’ tenure. One such game occurred Aug. 2, 2005, when he popped a pair of home runs to lead a 10-1 trouncing of the free-falling Orioles. Not only was that the Orioles’ seventh straight loss, but it came one day after Rafael Palmeiro had been suspended for a positive drug test and three days before manager Lee Mazzilli was fired. Yeah, that wasn’t a great week for the Orioles.
Guerrero’s most dramatic hit against the Orioles happened June 3, 2007, when he crushed a walkoff, two-run homer off closer Chris Ray to deliver a 3-2 Angels’ win. But perhaps his most memorable knock was a bloop single off Chris Tillman at Camden Yards on Aug. 14, 2009 — which he hit on a pitch that bounced in the dirt. “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen it in 47 years,” MASN broadcaster Jim Palmer said of Guerrero’s feat.
Guerrero, of course, later joined the Orioles, spending his final major league season in Baltimore in 2011. Although he manned the cleanup spot for most of the year, the 36-year-old’s power evaporated. Guerrero’s 13 homers and 63 RBIs were the fewest he’d ever had in a full season.
Well, this one will be quick. During his illustrious career, Hoffman pitched 1,035 games — and exactly one of them was against the Orioles. It happened June 12, 2002, during an interleague series that brought Hoffman’s San Diego Padres to Camden Yards.
After Padres starter Brian Lawrence blanked the Orioles over eight innings, Hoffman came in to shut the door in the ninth. He put a couple of runners on base with a single and a walk, but escaped the jam by striking out Marty Cordova to record the save. With that, the Orioles got their first and only look at the now Hall of Famer.
Despite spending his entire career in the National League with the Atlanta Braves, Jones played more games against the Orioles than you might think — 32, to be precise. In the first few years of interleague play, the AL East was usually matched up against the NL East, so the Orioles and Braves had a near-annual series against each other for much of Jones’ career.
The Orioles actually held Jones in check like few other teams could. Of the teams that Jones faced for 100 or more plate appearances, he had his worst batting average (.227), on-base percentage (.311) and slugging percentage (.437) against the Orioles. In one 2009 series in Baltimore, he went 0-for-12.
Still, it wasn’t all bad news for Jones. His best performance against the Orioles was in 2006, when he went 5-for-10 in three games, collecting two home runs and five RBIs. In the finale of that series, Jones pinch-hit in the eighth inning and smashed a three-run homer.
If there’s one new Hall of Famer the Orioles are most familiar with, it’s Thome. Not only did he suit up for Baltimore for three-plus months at the end of his career, but he was an annual opponent; Thome played against the Orioles in each of his 22 major league seasons from 1991 through 2012. All told, he had 594 plate appearances against the Orioles, batting .260 with a .909 OPS, 32 home runs and 103 RBIs.
Thome had no shortage of memorable games versus Baltimore. On Sept. 14, 1991, his tenth major league contest, the 21-year-old Thome collected his first multi-RBI game, driving in three runs in a 6-5 Cleveland Indians’ win at Memorial Stadium.
Thome notched a pair of five-RBI games against the Orioles on May 6, 1998, and Sept. 3, 2000, as he continued to terrorize the club for much of his Indians’ career. One exception, though, was the 1997 ALCS, when the Orioles held Thome to a 1-for-14 performance and no RBIs (although the Indians won the series anyway).
Even when Thome went to the National League, the Orioles couldn’t escape his wrath. In 2003, his first year with the Philadelphia Phillies, he roasted the Orioles in a three-game series June 27-29 by going 6-for-15 with two doubles, two homers and three RBIs to lead a sweep. He later returned to the AL with the Chicago White Sox and tagged the Orioles for a couple of two-homer games July 6, 2006, and July 17, 2009, driving in six or more runs in each game.
Thome, like Guerrero, finished his Hall of Fame career with a relatively brief stint in Baltimore. Executive vice president Dan Duquette acquired him June 30, 2012, from Philadelphia, perhaps inspired by an interleague series earlier that season in which Thome went 6-for-13 with a homer and four RBIs as the Phillies’ designated hitter at Camden Yards.
The then-41-year-old Thome provided veteran leadership for an upstart Orioles’ team that was on its way to its first postseason berth in 15 years. His offensive production petered out, though, with three homers, 10 RBIs and a .744 OPS in 28 regular season games and a 2-for-15 performance in the playoffs.