Motton's approach to bench pleased kangaroo court His pinch-hitting skills were clear and convincing

Where are they now?

September 28, 1995|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

He didn't have enough at-bats to qualify, of course, but Curt Motton was batting .360, higher than American League leader Rod Carew, and the Orioles were gleeful about it.

Imagine a reserve outfielder and right-handed pinch hitter challenging for the batting title.

In the Orioles' kangaroo court in the clubhouse on that August day in 1969, the judge, Frank Robinson, suggested that the players petition manager Earl Weaver to play Motton in the remaining 42 games so that he would have enough at-bats to qualify.

He would have needed 12 at-bats a game.

"I remember that," said Motton, 55, a longtime Baltimore resident and a special assignment scout for the Orioles since 1991. "I got three hits against Seattle and went 4-for-5 the next night against the Angels in Anaheim -- seven hits, including two home runs, in two days. In the Kangaroo Court, it was hard for the guys to find a way to get on me."

Motton finished with a .303 average and six home runs in 89 at-bats that year, by far the most prosperous of his eight major-league seasons, all but one of them with the Orioles. He was on the right club at the right time, playing on three American League champions and one World Series winner.

In 1968, Motton tied a major-league record with two successive pinch home runs. In 1969, he won two games with pinch home runs and drove in the winning run with a single over second baseman Carew's head in the 11th inning of the second game of the AL Championship Series against the Minnesota Twins.

"I thought Carew would catch that ball," Motton said. "It took off on a line, caught him flatfooted and he couldn't jump.

"That was a great year. The Orioles were always on a roll. We went about it in a methodical way, like a machine. We had good players at every position, and everybody had a good idea of how to play the game."

When his playing career ended, Motton dabbled in real estate ("I didn't do well"), then spent two years in sales with a liquor distributor before Robinson, then managing San Francisco, got him a job as a minor-league coach in the Giants' organization.

Motton returned to the Orioles and was a coach on the big-league and Triple-A Rochester Red Wings staffs until appointed a special assignment scout.

"I didn't know if I'd like scouting," Motton said. "Taking the uniform off was a big step. But I dug into it, and learned and improved. There's still room for growth, but I like it."

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