Shaking Things Up

ITW's resident traditionalist, John Kazlo, has his own spin on the recent poor play of the parent club. Instead of focusing on the plight of the manager, he argues, the Orioles should take a cue from their own history.

In the old days, when the team got off to a bad start the General Manager would usually pull off a trade that shook things up and got the team going again. Case in point- the 1976 Orioles. After a miserable start and facing a 25 -31 record in mid-June, then President and GM Hank Peters pulled a deal that shook the team up and helped them for years to come. On June 15th, Peters engineered a deal that sent Ken Holtzman, Jimmy Freeman, Elrod Hendricks, Doyle Alexander and Grant Jackson to the Yankees for Rudy May, Tippy Martinez, Dave Pagan, Scott McGregor and Rick Dempsey. Starting the next day, the team went on a six game win streak, played at a .590 clip the rest of the way, and eventually finished in second place, behind the Yankees, with a record of 88-74.

The deal had other, longer lasting effects as well. Rudy May helped the Orioles for a short time; he finished the ‘76 season with an 11-7 record and a 3.78 ERA. After going 18- 14 in 1977, he was packaged with Randy Miller and Bryn Smith and sent to the Expos for Don Stanhouse, Joe Kerrigan and Gary Roenicke.

Tippy Martinez was an important part of the Orioles bullpen for the next 10 years. Scotty McGregor apprenticed out of the Baltimore bullpen in 1976 and 1977, until he moved into the rotation for good in 1978. He appeared in 356 games over his 13 year career as an Oriole and finished with a W-L record of 138-108. He was also on the mound the final game of the 1983 World Series, when Cal Ripken made his famous catch for the final out to clinch the Series win for Baltimore. Rick Dempsey spent the next 10 years of his career in Baltimore. Who can forget his contributions in the `83 Series, or his antics during rain delays? His hard nosed play is part of a bygone era in Orioles history. Dave Pagan had a record of 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA for the Orioles in the second half of `76, and was taken by the Seattle Mariners the following year in baseball's expansion draft. Earl Weaver will certainly never forget "Full Pack"! Roenicke teamed with John Lowenstein to form the famous "Roenickstein" platoon in left that was extremely productive for the Birds. Elrod Hendricks never really left the Orioles, returning to them in November of the following year as a free agent and remaining with the team as a coach until his death in 2005.

Of the players Peters sent to New York, most of them were gone by the 1977 season. Ken Holtzman lasted the longest; he was a Yankee until June 10th, 1978.

Orioles' teams, on the other hand, continued to win and be competitive after that trade. They won the American League pennant in 1979, only to lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. And in the last hurrah of the once proud franchise, the 1983 team defeated the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Championship.

There was never a thought given to firing the manager that season. Earl Weaver stayed on into the 1980's. Instead, the front office did what they were supposed to do in times of crisis… they shook things up.

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