Fashion Statement?

June 29, 1995|By Buster Olney

MILWAUKEE -- Requiring rookies to dress in ill-matched and ugly clothing is a time-honored tradition in baseball -- one that Orioles rookie Armando Benitez apparently doesn't follow. His refusal to wear the clothes bought for him by veterans delayed the team's departure from Milwaukee County Stadium 15 minutes yesterday.

After the game, the Orioles rookies found that their regular clothes had been packed up and replaced by the ugly stuff. Catcher Greg Zaun, for instance, was given a pair of red plaid pants, center fielder Curtis Goodwin some tight black-and-white checkered pants and sandals.

Benitez made it clear he didn't like the fact his clothes had been removed, and he sat at a table in the clubhouse as his teammates departed. Several, including Jesse Orosco and Manny Alexander, tried to convince him to go along with the gag.

Both team buses were loaded and all the players -- other than Benitez -- were ready to go. Finally, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro and Alexander went back to the clubhouse to talk to Benitez, the players often shouting at one another.

Then pitching coach Mike Flanagan and traveling secretary Phil Itzoe returned to the clubhouse, and Benitez emerged, wearing baseball pants, a white dress shirt, dress socks and no shoes.

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