Whatever Happened To ... ?

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ... ?

June 07, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

When you call former Oriole right fielder Joe Orsulak's cell phone, he answers with a cheery, "Joe Oh. Leave a message."

The New Jersey native, who lives in Cockeysville, began his pro baseball career when he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1980, and played for the Orioles for five seasons, from 1988 to 1992.

Fans with a long memory will recall Orsulak's two firsts when the Orioles played the Cleveland Indians before a crowd of 44,568 that inaugurated Camden Yards on Opening Day in 1992.

He was the first to race out of the dugout at the new stadium to his place on the diamond and made the first putout when he caught Kenny Lofton's fly. He also led the Orioles in hitting that year (.289).

"I tried to get into the record books any way I could," he told The Sun in a 2002 interview.

He then played for the New York Mets and Florida Marlins before ending his career with the Montreal Expos in 1997.

In 1999, he was asked by Tim Nordbrook, a former utility infielder for the Orioles and old friend who was baseball coach at Loyola High School, to be his assistant.

"That ended six or seven years ago. I'm not working, and I'm basically a house dad," Orsulak said in an interview the other day. "I'm not doing anything in baseball and frankly, I don't miss it. I've been out of it for 10 years."

He does admit that he enjoys talking about baseball but has not attended an Orioles game in quite a while.

"I've really had no desire," he said. "You know, the higher up in the stands you sit, the easier the game gets. Unless you're on the ground, there's no way you can know what's going on,' he said. "A player can get a bug in the eye or be bothered by sunlight. I know how hard it is, but I was getting to be one of those guys who are experts way up in the stands."

Orsulak's life has not been free of tragedy. His wife, Adrianna, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 1994, died five years ago.

His eldest son graduated from Loyola High School and another is a student at Dulaney High.

Right now, Orsulak is busy packing up to move to a new home in Sparks.

He is also planning to get remarried this year, to Dawn Carey, an occupational therapist with Care Resources in Baltimore.

He did attend a recent game of the York Revolution in York, Pa. The team's manager is Chris Hoiles, who was a catcher for the Orioles from 1989 to 1998.

"Sam Snider, former Oriole bullpen catcher, is the team's third base coach," he said.

"I like watching minor league players and the fans because they're so into it. I think it beats watching the majors," Orsulak said.

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