O, Jesse O.

Another record: Orioles pitcher Orosco latest team member to set major-league mark for endurance.

August 19, 1999

PITCHING has been described as the most unnatural act one can commit in polite society.

If just typing can cause wrenching nerve damage, imagine the effect of heaving your arm forward thousands of times with so much force that you might be trying to eject the limb itself. If God truly meant for humans to throw a curveball, wrists would turn on ball bearings.

So it is amazing from the standpoint of science alone that Jesse Orosco, 42, has thrown a baseball so well for so long at such a level of competition. His appearance in the Orioles' win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday at Oriole Park set the record for most appearances by a major-league pitcher, 1,072 games, dating to 1979.

Mr. Orosco is not the household name that Cal Ripken Jr. is. His record wasn't as anticipated as Mr. Ripken's 1995 eclipse of the Lou Gehrig streak. But the left-handed relief pitcher has been a consistent performer and an admired Oriole since coming to Baltimore, his fifth team, five seasons ago.

For all the player trades and deals that backfire and cause fans anguish, Mr. Orosco is one of the valuable finds that gets overlooked. As columnist George Will might say, it's another example of baseball as a metaphor for life.

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