As Manny Machado returns, how have other ex-Oriole stars fared against the club? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Paul Folkemer

As Manny Machado returns, how have other ex-Oriole stars fared against the club?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

It’s not every day that you circle an Orioles-San Diego Padres matchup on your calendar. But this week’s interleague series between the clubs holds special significance.

Manny Machado, the Orioles-drafted and developed star who helped key the franchise’s turnaround, will be returning to Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the first time as a visiting player. Machado, whom the Orioles traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July, signed a 10-year, $300-million deal with San Diego in February.

Machado, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 draft, was an instant sensation for the Orioles after jumping from Double-A Bowie to the majors in 2012. His Baltimore career included plenty of highlights — four All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and a litany of dazzling defensive plays — as well as some regrettable moments, including a bat-throwing incident against Oakland in 2014 and a suspension for charging the mound at Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura in 2016.

Machado isn’t the first former Orioles star to play against the club as an opponent, but he’s one of the most high profile.

Only 12 players in Orioles history posted a better Wins Above Replacement with the club (per Baseball Reference) than Machado’s 30.9. Of those dozen, the top three spent their entire careers with the Orioles: Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer. Another, Mark Belanger, spent all but the last season of his 18-year career with the Orioles and never played against them.

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The player just ahead of Machado on the list, longtime centerfielder Adam Jones, is slated to face the Orioles this year for the first time since leaving the club this past offseason. His Arizona Diamondbacks host the Orioles for a three-game series July 22-24.

That leaves seven Orioles of Machado’s caliber or better who left the club and later played against them. How did those star ex-Orioles fare when they faced their longtime club as an opponent?

Frank Robinson

We’ll start with a franchise superstar. The late Hall of Famer Robinson, one of six Orioles Legends to have his number retired and his likeness immortalized in the Camden Yards statue park, was one of only two of those to play for another team after his Baltimore stint.

After transforming the Orioles into a perennial powerhouse during his six years with the team, leading them to their first World Series championship with his Triple Crown, MVP-winning season in 1966, Robinson was traded to the Dodgers in December 1971. A year later, he was back in the American League for his final four seasons of his playing career.

Robinson made his return to Baltimore with the then-California Angels on May 4, 1973. He doubled and scored the game’s only run in the seventh inning. Still, he batted just .159 against the Orioles that year. From 1973-76, first as an Angel and then a Cleveland Indian, Robinson posted a .248 average, .823 OPS, six homers and 15 RBIs in 38 games against the Orioles.

Appropriately enough, Robinson’s final game as a player came against the Orioles, on September 18, 1976. In the bottom of the eighth inning at Cleveland Stadium, Robinson delivered a pinch-hit RBI single off Rudy May, ending his career with 2,943 hits and 1,812 RBIs.

Boog Powell

Powell has been a mainstay of Baltimore baseball for so many decades, from his 14 years as a middle-of-the-order slugger to his eponymous barbecue stand at Camden Yards, that it’s hard to remember he had a non-Orioles career. But the four-time All-Star and 1970 AL MVP was coming off a subpar season by his standards when the Orioles traded him to the Indians in February 1975. The deal reunited him with his longtime Orioles teammate, Robinson, who was serving as player-manager for Cleveland.

Powell enjoyed a bounceback season in 1975, earning AL Comeback Player of the Year honors, but faded in his second year with the Indians and then spent one season as a pinch-hitting specialist with the Dodgers before retiring. During his stint with Cleveland, Powell played the Orioles 23 times, batting .230 with a .754 OPS, five home runs and 11 RBIs. Perhaps the most interesting faceoff was on June 17, 1975, when he hit two long balls against the Orioles — including back-to-back homers by Powell and Robinson in the second inning. Those accounted for all three Indians runs in a game won by Baltimore.

Paul Blair

An eight-time Gold Glover and the greatest defensive centerfielder in Orioles history, Blair was on the downside of his career when the club traded him to the New York Yankees in January of 1977. Prior to that, the Orioles were the only organization he’d known, aside from one minor league season with the New York Mets in 1962 before Baltimore plucked him in the Rule 5 draft.

Blair joined the Yankees at the right time. Though mostly serving as a reserve outfielder, he earned World Series rings for the club’s 1977 and 1978 championships. During his stint in New York, he played 13 games against the Orioles, going 10-for-32 (.313) with four RBIs. That included a Yankee Stadium tilt May 31, 1978, in which Blair drove in both New York runs with a double off Mike Flanagan, albeit in a losing effort.

Bobby Grich

The underrated Grich, an excellent all-around second baseman, deserved better than to fall off the Hall of Fame ballot after one year. His 71.1 career WAR was better than many players who have earned enshrinement in Cooperstown. He racked up more than half of that total during his seven years in Baltimore, winning four Gold Gloves, and continued his excellence for another decade after joining the Angels as a free agent in November 1976.

Grich saw plenty of the Orioles after departing, playing 93 games against the club that made him a first-round draft pick in 1967. He batted .252 with a .765 OPS, 12 home runs and 39 RBIs. Grich was especially lethal to Orioles pitching in 1981, when he hit five home runs, delivered 11 RBIs and posted a 1.064 OPS in 11 games.

Eddie Murray

Much has been written about Murray’s messy divorce from the Orioles in 1988 after 12 memorable years, in which he’d garnered a World Series championship, a Rookie of the Year trophy, seven All-Star selections and seven top-10 finishes in the Most Valuable Player voting. The Orioles sent the future Hall of Famer packing in an ill-fated trade with the Dodgers.

Although Murray spent his first five post-Baltimore seasons in the National League, he took part in one particularly noteworthy game in the meantime: the debut of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992. Granted, it was just an exhibition game (a dry run for the ballpark’s regular-season debut three days later), but Murray’s Mets christened the park as the visiting club April 3, 1992. Murray, in fact, drove in the first (unofficial) run in the ballpark’s history with a first-inning sacrifice fly.

Murray’s first regular-season appearance against the Orioles didn’t come until 1994, when he rejoined the American League with the Indians. In his second plate appearance against the Orioles, he blasted a two-run homer off Mike Mussina (who will be appearing later in this list) to lead an Indians win May 6. It was merely the beginning of Murray’s destruction of Orioles pitching that year, as he hit five home runs and collected 13 RBIs while batting .351 in 10 games. That included a two-homer game in Baltimore on July 28.

After Murray rejoined the Orioles for a stint in 1996, he finished his career with the then-Anaheim Angels in 1997 and played seven more games against Baltimore, managing just five singles in 27 at-bats (.185). All told, Murray batted .287 with an .831 OPS, six homers and 25 RBIs in 31 career games versus the Orioles.

Brady Anderson

October 6, 2001 was one of the most memorable nights in Camden Yards history. In front of 48,807 fans, Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. bid farewell to baseball and to his hometown team of 21 years, celebrating his final game with a special on-field ceremony.

Unbeknown to most at the time, the game also marked the Oriole finale of another Maryland-born franchise standout, Anderson. He concluded his 14-year Baltimore career as the club’s all-time leader in stolen bases (307) and ranked in the top five in hits, runs, doubles and triples. Anderson made the final out of that game, striking out in the bottom of the ninth with Ripken on deck.

Anderson latched on with the Indians for the 2002 season, facing the Orioles five times and going just 2-for-14. The Padres signed him to a minor league deal in 2003, but released him from Triple-A Portland in May, ending his career.

Mike Mussina

For many ex-Oriole stars, returning to Baltimore in a visiting uniform can be a welcome occasion, a chance for the player to soak up some adulation from an appreciative O’s crowd.

Then there’s Mussina.

To say the longtime Orioles ace received a mixed response in his first game as an opponent would be an understatement. Mussina’s decision to leave the Orioles in free agency after the 2000 season and sign with the division rival Yankees didn’t sit well with Baltimore fans. When he took the Camden Yards mound in pinstripes May 6, 2001, many in attendance taunted him with signs labeling him a sellout and a traitor. Others gave him a standing ovation in recognition of his 10 excellent years in Baltimore.

Mussina dominated the Orioles that afternoon, holding them to one run in seven innings in a 2-1 Yankees victory. That kind of performance, though, ended up being more the exception than the norm. During his eight years in New York, Mussina struggled to a 4.83 ERA in 26 starts against the Orioles, his worst mark versus any AL team.

Almost two decades after Mussina’s controversial departure from Baltimore, it appears both sides have let bygones be bygones. The Orioles elected Mussina to the club’s Hall of Fame in 2012, and he’ll be throwing out the first pitch on Sunday, June 30, in advance of his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer.

36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    June 24, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Nice article on former Orioles returning to Baltimore on opposing teams. One thing I remember when Blair went to the Yankees. Billy Martin replaced Reggie Jackson with Blair during a nationally televised game against the Red Sox. Jackson’s lack of effort in right field was the reason. Martin and Jackson nearly came to blows when Jackson returned to the dugout.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    June 24, 2019 at 8:27 am

    The overrated clown returns. Woohooo. What an absolute waste of talent this guy is, or at least has been up to this point. He could have been, and could still be, so much more.

    Just throw him low and away …

    • Fareastern89

      June 24, 2019 at 11:42 am

      If the O’s pitchers could throw low and away, the club’s record would be far better than it is.

    • Bancells Moustache

      June 24, 2019 at 12:16 pm

      Nonsense, pitch him inside so he throws a fit because apparently pitchers shouldn’t be allowed to do that in 2019.

    • Paul Folkemer

      June 24, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      What do you mean by “waste of talent”? I’d say his talent has served him quite well.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 24, 2019 at 2:16 pm

        Serving yourself quite well and serving your team and the fans quite well are two quite different things Paul. Or is making the almighty $ really all that really counts in the grand scheme of things these days? I’d hate to think so.

        • Paul Folkemer

          June 24, 2019 at 3:29 pm

          Machado served the team very well, IMO. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that his career with the Orioles coincided with the club’s long-awaited return to contention. He made the team significantly better whenever he was on the field.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            June 24, 2019 at 6:56 pm

            Superstars don’t hit .280 Paul. Superstars hit more than 40 taters when they play in OPACY. Superstars routinely get MVP votes…and finish higher than 4th or 5th. No doubt the O’s were better with him than without, but he was never the transcendent player that he could or should have been. He still has time to become a great player, but he won’t be wearing black and orange when it does. And I for one will regret it.

    • Raymo

      June 24, 2019 at 9:52 pm

      Boog, I don’t think he’ll ever achieve his true potential because his superb talent allows to him succeed without working at his craft. He could continue to be above average, but may never reach excellence or the HOF. His narcissism, his dirty play and his no-hustle attitude won’t help either.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        June 25, 2019 at 2:14 pm

        You hit the nail on the head Raymo.

  3. willmiranda

    June 24, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Favorite nugget: Paul Blair was a Rule 5 pick, Didn’t know that. As for Ex-Oriole Machado,
    the stress falls on “Ex.” One lesson, though: great talents don’t take years crawling up the minor league ladder before they’re ready. Second lesson: talent isn’t everything.

  4. chico salmon

    June 24, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Excellent article, Paul. I hope Oriole fans stay classy over the next few days. Use the St. Louis Cardinal fans as an example. They welcomed back Albert Pujols for the first time this past weekend. It was standing ovations, and recognition for his performance as a Cardinal. He, too, left as a free agent and spurned a competitive Cardinal offer for the Angels. Baltimore used to be known as the “St. Louis of the East”, in terms of baseball fan knowledge, loyalty, and devotion to its team and players. I hope everyone takes the high road with Manny.

    • Bancells Moustache

      June 24, 2019 at 11:00 am

      While I also fall in the “keep it classy” camp, Machado ain’t no Albert P. The Cardinals got Championships and a decade of performance where Pujols was the unquestioned best player in the world. Oriole fans got one season as a contender and whole lot of talk about how good Machado was going to be.

      • Paul Folkemer

        June 24, 2019 at 12:28 pm

        Agreed, Manny’s tenure in Baltimore wasn’t on the level that Pujols was in St. Louis, so I’m not expecting O’s fans to give him standing ovations after he homers or anything like that. Still, I would expect — and hope — Machado will get a nice reception from the Baltimore crowd.

    • chico salmon

      June 24, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      My intent wasn’t to compare Manny with Pujols. There is no comparison, as you’ve pointed out. But I’ve seen Bawlmer fans boo Mussina and Teixeira unfairly. I’ll be there tomorrow night cheering for Manny.

    • ClayDal

      June 24, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      The thing to remember about Albert Pujols is that he didn’t return to St Louis for 8 years. So the fans in St Louis have 8 years to get over it. Plus they were deserted by their football team and their hockey team just won the Stanley Cup. Also Pujols went to the Angels who are in a different league ( same as Manny did). I’m sure if Pujols had come back in 2012 wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform, his reception would not have been as pleasant. If Manny were to return wearing pinstripes the reaction would be a lot different than I would expect tomorrow. Won’t be as warm as Pujols, but not as vicious as Bryce Harper coming back to DC as a Phillie

    • ClayDal

      June 24, 2019 at 2:32 pm

      In reference to Mussina and Teixiera-they both signed with the Yankees. If Moose had signed with Atlanta or the Cubs he would have been treated a lot better. If Tex had stayed with the Angels or gone back to the Rangers there wouldn’t have been any hard feelings. It probably didn’t help at his press conference when Tiexiera said that it was his lifelong dream to play for the Yankees and this was a dream come true. If he just said that he signed with the Yankees because they offered the most money-which is why he went there-people wouldn’t have taken it so personally

      • Bancells Moustache

        June 24, 2019 at 4:09 pm

        Wasn’t cool how they did Texiera. If you had your choice between working with a world class organization that was constantly successful or working for an ass backward company in your hometown that couldn’t get out of its own way, and for less money, what would you do?

    • ClayDal

      June 24, 2019 at 4:53 pm

      Orioles never made a serious offer to Tiexiera. In the end it came down to the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels. When he played for the Rangers and later the Braves every time the Orioles played them the Baltimore media would ask about eventually playing for the Orioles and he always gave a non committal answer leaving the door open. I think a lot of fans took it the wrong way and assumed he would come here as a free agent. It was nothing personal on Marks part, just business. Exit question on Manny- Do you think that Manny signed with the Padres because he liked San Diego and he was impressed with the organization as he said or do you think it was the 300 million dollars

  5. CalsPals

    June 24, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    One person cannot carry a team, Pujols had some other good players on those teams…stay classy my friends…he was traded, he didn’t leave us…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      June 24, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      Really? Is classy defined as throwing a bat at the opposing 3rd baseman because you feel he was too rough slapping a tag on you in your last meeting. Or maybe kicking a 1st baseman’s ankle on a groundout? Boo if you want to Bal’more. This guy was always a narcissistic punk who didn’t give a rats behind for the fans.

      • Jbigle1

        June 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm

        Machado was the greatest talent we’ve had on the field in about two decades. He performed at a high level as well. Machado the personality is very easy to hate but there’s no denying how good the man is. I don’t think he isn’t a hard worker on the field either. He’s done stupid childish things but take this guy off our team and there’s no way we had the success we did. I probably wouldn’t give the guy an ovation like Schoop but I wouldn’t boo him either. He was a great player while we had him.

        • Bancells Moustache

          June 24, 2019 at 5:04 pm

          When? Gifted defender sure. So was Rey Ordonez. How about this, what was the signature Machado moment? When they run the highlight reel, where is the diving stop of Lee May, the Home Run out of Memorial Stadium, the lap around Camden Yards in the middle of the 7th of 2131? For that matter, where are the MVP votes? The Big Time performance in crunch time? When did this man, who apparently decended from Heaven on a Golden Chariot to save the Baltimore Orioles, throw the team on his back and show why he is “the most talented player in Baltimore history”?

          • Jbigle1

            June 25, 2019 at 1:25 am

            Best player in the last two decades I said. Who is his competition? Adam Jones? Machado was a great baseball player and a huge part of our success. He’s an as s I get that. Don’t personally like him but he was a hell of a player here. There’s a reason he’s playing on a 300 million dollar contract.

          • Jbigle1

            June 25, 2019 at 1:35 am

            Christ BanMo, I never said he was the most talented player in history. I said he was the best player we had in 20 years. Our list of impressive performers in that period consists of Adam Jones, your boy Crush, and what Miguel Tejada? End of career roid king Palmeiro? Slammin needles in my arm Sammy?

            That’s obviously facetious. Other than Jones or Markakis I don’t know who else you put on that list. We haven’t had many great Orioles for a long period of time. If you want to go with Jones because he was the leader of the squad, I’m alright with that. But Machado was statistically the better player. Postseason and regular season. (Though neither did much in October)

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          June 24, 2019 at 6:46 pm

          I think Adam Jones was a better player that Machado … and it wasn’t even close. Now had Jones had Machado’s natural talent, we might have had our version of Mike Trout. The fact is, with all his undeniable god given talent, Machado was a uber-under-achiever as he routinely dogged out ground balls, failed ever hit 40 in OPACY and generally hit sub .280. Where was he in K.C. in ’14? Hardly a superstar .. unless of course you count ‘in his own mind’.

          • Jbigle1

            June 25, 2019 at 1:29 am

            Adam Jones is easy to like. Adam Jones was an inferior player. If we want to get anecdotal, Adam Jones was god awful every single postseason. Throwing him A low and away slider was like putting crack in front of an Addict.

          • Bancells Moustache

            June 25, 2019 at 9:51 am

            Where was anybody in KC? That team was a genuine bona-fide championship roster, and all the position players decided to leave their bats in the mens room. I mean, Jesus, they had Andrew Miller in his prime handing the ball off to Zach(k) Britton in his prime.

    • ClayDal

      June 25, 2019 at 10:31 am

      In 2014 Manny was recovering from knee surgery. Didn’t play against KC. Kind of hard to blame a guy for blowing out his knee

  6. cb

    June 24, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Will someone do me a favor and boo Mussina for me when he returns? He won’t be able to hear me from home.

    • chico salmon

      June 24, 2019 at 5:36 pm

      No reason to boo Moose. My God, he was a stud pitcher for us, the best since Palmer. Read Living on the Black, by John Feinstein. Those are the facts, and the way it really went down. Man, he WANTED to stay. He was willing to be the anchor of a rebuilding pitching staff. Moose hated NY and never left his hotel room when the Orioles played there. Angelos completely screwed it up (surprise, surprise) and let him walk. Congrats to Moose on HOF. Wished you could have stayed, but had he stayed, likely would not have made the Hall.

  7. cedar

    June 24, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    I was always a fan of Mark Belanger, but I will admit, I would have never thought that I would see his name listed among these leaders. Just goes to show how good defense can contribute to a winning team.

    • Raymo

      June 24, 2019 at 9:34 pm

      Right there with ya Cedar. He contributed with his bat too. As a good hit-n-run and sac bunt guy he often batted 2nd, and he was a pretty good base stealer as well.

    • willmiranda

      June 25, 2019 at 10:15 am

      “Good defense”? I’m sure it’s an intentional understatement regarding Belanger. He and Brooks simply shut down the left side of the infield to opposing hitters.

    • Raymo

      June 25, 2019 at 7:04 pm

      Man, those sure were the glory days.

  8. Bumble bee

    June 24, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Did u know I gave Mussina permission to go the Yankees and win himself some championships. But dang gone it, go into the hof as an oriole and get a statue.

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