Five yard dates to circle

April 04, 1999|By JOE STRAUSS

Five yard dates to circle

Texas, July 27: Texas Instruments Calc. Night

Rafael Palmeiro, the most productive free agent in Orioles history, returns to Camden Yards for the first time since accepting -- then abruptly rejecting -- Peter Angelos' five-year, $50 million offer for the Rangers' $45 million package. (Too much deferred money and Maryland state taxes with the Orioles' bid, sayeth Raffy.) In a goodwill gesture, Angelos offers Palmeiro free use of Cal Ripken's underground parking space for the series.

Detroit, Aug. 5: AARP Discount Night

Jesse Orosco, the Orioles' productive ancient left-hander, needs but 47 appearances to eclipse Dennis Eckersley's all-time career record (1,071). Averaging 11.5 appearances a month the season's first four months -- his pace the last two seasons -- Orosco would tie Eckersley's mark in late July during a West Coast trip. Preserving history for a home crowd, manager Ray Miller rests Orosco four days. Good news for Orosco: The Tigers no longer have Phil Nevin.

Chi. White Sox, Aug. 21: Ripken's 3,000th hit

Three days before his 39th birthday, a season of personal milestones reaches one of its high notes when Cal Ripken becomes the 23rd player in major-league history to achieve 3,000 hits. His pace slowed by days off, Ripken becomes the third player this season to join one of the game's most sacrosanct clubs. The San Diego Padres' Tony Gwynn and Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Wade Boggs get there first. Unlike Gwynn and Boggs, Ripken continues a pursuit for his 400th home run.

Cleveland, Sept. 3: Pacifier Night

The schedule-maker's sense of drama won't allow exiled second baseman Roberto Alomar and his emotional baggage to return to Camden Yards until the season's final month. By then the Indians should have thrashed the AL Central and the Orioles should still be contending for the wild card. Let's see 47,000, including Mary Pierce, in the stands; Alomar motivated by his first year in new town; maybe John Hirschbeck behind the plate. Hey, Robby wanted to come back. Sure he did.

Boston, Oct. 1-3: Three for the Price of One

Embroiled in a torrid wild-card race with the Anaheim Angels, the Orioles complete the season with a three-game series with the Red Sox at Camden Yards. Ripken will need one more home run for 400, the Orioles will need a sweep to overtake the Angels, and manager Ray Miller will need a playoff entry to return for the option year of his contract.

Pub Date: 4/04/99

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