Orioles turn back the clock and get locked in a time warp

Ken Rosenthal

January 20, 1992|By Ken Rosenthal

Bring back Ken Singleton. Bring back Tippy Martinez. Bring back Al Bumbry. Tim Stoddard? Love ya babe. Lenn Sakata? Come on down!

Since the Orioles are working so diligently to reassemble their 1983 world championship team, why not just get the whole gang together again?

Bring back Todd Cruz, Joe Nolan, Leo Hernandez. John Shelby? OK, one more shot. John Lowenstein? Forget TV, brother, this is for real!

A year ago the Orioles had only one player left from the 1983 team -- Cal Ripken. But now, with Rick Dempsey coming to spring training, they might start next season with four.

Four!

That's nearly one-sixth the roster, nine years after the fact.

And guess what? Dempsey, Mike Flanagan and Storm Davis could play useful roles, which gives you an idea of the current state of the club.

The Orioles pulled off the "Field of Dreams" sequence the final weekend at Memorial Stadium, so now they think life will imitate art.

Except this time, no one will buy the video.

Heaven knows, we all love the Demper, but this nostalgia craze would be a lot easier to tolerate if it included the three best players from the '83 club -- Dennis Martinez, Mike Boddicker and Eddie Murray.

Don't worry about general manager Ro

land Hemond trading for those guys. Dennis costs too much, both in players and dollars. Eddie is just what the club needs -- another first baseman. And Boddicker -- sorry, it'll take more than Brady Anderson.

You would think 1993 might be the motivation for the Orioles' frantic reshuffling, but nope, it's '83. Rick Sutcliffe pitched a career-high 243 1/3 innings for Cleveland that season. It was a very good year.

Of course, the Orioles liked the salaries back then, too. They wouldn't dare field the same type of team today, for then their payroll would be competitive too.

Barry Larkin: Five years, $25.6 million.

Cal Ripken?

The '83 fixation isn't just limited to the parent club. The Orioles' new minor-league infield instructor is Rich Dauer. The new Rochester general manager is none other than Joe Altobelli.

Manager John Oates better watch out. Altobelli knows this club better than he does. Hemond better watch out too. Hank Peters just retired in Cleveland.

Bring back Dan Ford. Bring back Glenn Gulliver. Bring back Tito Landrum.

Indeed, if it's 1983 the Orioles want, we'll be happy to assist them. As a service to the front office, The Evening Sun this weekend contacted five retired members of that club to see if they're interested in rejoining their old pals.

No, we didn't call Palmer.

Let's not get that started again.

Sadly, we must report that each of the Five Fossils -- Ken Singleton, Tippy Martinez, Al Bumbry, Scott McGregor and John Lowenstein -- rejected our advances.

A couple of them didn't get the joke.

But some got caught up in the spirit of thing.

"I wouldn't walk out there for less than 4 million bucks," Singleton said, chuckling. "Three and a half million, maybe."

Singleton is an interesting case. At 44, he's only two years older than Dempsey. And with 246 career homers, he's the power-hitting outfielder of the Orioles' dreams.

"You might be right," Lowenstein said. "But every time I see 'Singy' he's got a thousand fewer strands of hair."

Singleton retired in 1984.

Think that would stop the Orioles?

With this team, the statute of limitations never expires. Tippy Martinez is eight months younger than Dempsey. He last pitched in 1988.

Perfect time for a comeback, eh, Tip?

"I'd love to, but my shoulder wouldn't," Martinez said. "Every time I throw the ball, I say, 'Ouch!' "

In other words, he'd fit right in. Ben McDonald frequently gets injured. Glenn Davis missed most of last season. And Sutcliffe, the free-agent pitching savior, underwent shoulder surgery in 1990.

Lowenstein is another story.

"I'm sick of playing baseball," the HTS announcer announced. "I'm disappointed I didn't partake in some of the largess. But I got out of it spiritually what I wanted."

Good old Brother Lowe.

"It was tough walking those halls for seven innings, waiting for Earl [Weaver] to say, 'Get a bat and hit a home run,' " Lowenstein continued.

"So, I never listened to Earl. I just waited for Sakata to come to the door and say, "Earl wants you to get a bat and hit a home run."

Bring 'em back. Bring 'em all back.

Charge 1983 prices, too.

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