Orosco looks back fondly on O's days


`I loved every minute of it,' ex-pitcher says at event for fans' 50 favorite O's

September 27, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Jesse Orosco looks like he could pick up a baseball and start pitching again, so little has changed about his appearance since he retired, but he was content yesterday to relive the memories from his time with the Orioles. And they weren't in short supply.

"I played five years here," said Orosco, who took part in pre-game ceremonies honoring fans' choices of their 50 all-time favorite Orioles, "and I loved every minute of it."

Thirty of the players were available for the festivities, including Brooks Robinson, Mike Cuellar, Cal Ripken and Brady Anderson. Rafael Palmeiro and B.J. Surhoff, vice president Mike Flanagan, first base coach Rick Dempsey and bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks were also recognized.

"It's a very humbling and flattering feeling," said former shortstop Mike Bordick, who still lives in Ruxton.

"Most of these guys played on championship teams. I had a good time playing here, and I had a good relationship with the fans. But it's a little overwhelming actually, considering how many Orioles have come through here and how many great ones there were."

Robinson was the last player introduced, and he received a long ovation - rivaled only by the one given to Ripken.

"Every guy I look at, I've got a special memory and it brings a big smile to my face," Robinson said. "It's like being on a world championship team. You can look at a picture one day and every guy you see, you can remember a special occasion. That's the same way with these guys.

"Cuellar just told me that he put me in the Hall of Fame. I had to make a lot of great stops when he pitched."

"What about me?" asked Boog Powell, the Orioles' first baseman for 14 years.

"You too, Boog," Robinson said. "Every time I made a low throw to Boog, he'd mark it up on the wall. Then, at the end of the season he'd go, `Well, I saved you seven errors. Where's my Gold Glove?' "

Orosco, who retired before spring training this season, was known more for longevity. With the Orioles, he set the major league record for games pitched, and the home bullpen includes a plaque honoring him.

Orosco won a World Series with the New York Mets in 1986 - a team that also included current Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli - but his days in Baltimore hold a special place.

"It was fun in New York and I enjoyed it there, but I think Baltimore really brought me back to life," he said.

"I had gone to Cleveland and had a real tough time there, and I went to Milwaukee and that was fun. Then I came here when they built the new stadium, and it was like going to a candy store. And the fans here are unbelievable. The organization treated me great, and we had some good ballclubs."

Retirement has allowed Orosco to spend more time with his family, including son Jesse, a high school senior in San Diego.

"I was throwing batting practice to him last week and didn't get behind the screen in time," Orosco said. "He hit a bullet right off my hip. I started getting flashbacks to 20-some years of playing dodgeball. I said, `That's it. Got to go ice.' "

Leon likely done

Infielder Jose Leon probably has played his last game with the Orioles this season.

Leon pulled up while running out a grounder in the fourth inning and collapsed on the field. He suffered a second-degree strain of his left calf muscle.

Leon, who's out of minor league options, was hit in the face by a thrown ball last year during the International League playoffs and broke an orbital bone.

R. Lopez credits Miller

Rodrigo Lopez credits pitching coach Ray Miller for getting him to rely more on a changeup that handcuffed the Detroit Tigers yesterday in a three-hit shutout.

"I feel like I'm a better pitcher than I was two years ago," said Lopez (14-8), who went 15-9 in 2002. "Ray Miller has been telling me how important the changeup is. The philosophy he has on pitching has been working pretty good for me."

Fan favorites

All-time favorite Orioles as voted by fans:

Player Pos. Yrs.

Jerry Adair 2B 1957-61

Roberto Alomar 2B 1996-98

Brady Anderson OF 1988-2001

Luis Aparicio SS 1963-67

Harold Baines DH 1993-95, 1997-2000

Jeff Ballard LHP 1987-91

Steve Barber LHP 1960-67

Don Baylor OF 1970-75

Mark Belanger SS 1965-81

Paul Blair OF 1964-76

Mike Boddicker RHP 1980-88

Mike Bordick SS 1997-2000, 2001-02

Don Buford OF 1968-72

Al Bumbry OF 1072-84

Jeff Conine 1B 1990-2003

Mike Cuellar LHP 1969-76

Rich Dauer 2B 1976-85

Tommy Davis DH 1972-75

Doug DeCinces 3B 1973-81

Rick Dempsey C 1976-86, 1992

Mike Devereaux OF 1989-94, 1996

Scott Erickson RHP 1995-2003

Andy Etchebarren C 1962, 1965-75

Mike Flanagan LHP 1975-87, 1991-92

Jim Gentile 1B 1960-63

Bobby Grich 2B 1970-76

Elrod Hendricks C 1968-72, 1973-76, 1978-79

Chris Hoiles C 1989-98

Reggie Jackson OF 1976

Davey Johnson 2B 1965-72

Dennis Martinez RHP 1976-86

Tippy Martinez LHP 1976-86

Scott McGregor LHP 1976-88

Dave McNally LHP 1962-74

Eddie Murray 1B 1977-88, 1996

Mike Mussina RHP 1991-2000

Gregg Olson RHP 1988-93

Jesse Orosco LHP 1995-99

Rafael Palmeiro 1B 1994-98, 2004

Jim Palmer RHP 1965-67, 1969-84

Boog Powell 1B 1961-74

Bill Ripken 2B 1987-92, 1996

Cal Ripken SS 1981-2001

Brooks Robinson 3B 1955-77

Frank Robinson OF 1966-71

Ken Singleton OF 1975-84

B.J. Surhoff OF 1996-2000, 2003-04

Mickey Tettleton C 1988-90

Gus Triandos C 1955-62

Hoyt Wilhelm RHP 1958-62

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