The moment you have all been waiting for is here. Starting today on The Baltimore Wire, the top 50 greatest players in Baltimore sports history will be counted down from 50 to #1 … starting right now:
50. Bobby Grich, 2B, Baltimore Orioles
Bobby Grich made his MLB debut with the Orioles in 1970. From 1969 to 1974, the O’s won four American League East division titles. They had a roster loaded with talent including second baseman Davey Johnson. This was a small hump in Grich’s career, but the Orioles had so much confidence in him that they traded Johnson to the Atlanta Braves following the 1972 season.
Grich’s real value came in the field. In 1973, he set an MLB record with a .995 fielding percentage. He then broke his own record 12 years later with a fielding percentage of .997. His numbers at the plate were very good for a second baseman as he hit 224 home runs and 864 RBI’s with a .266 career batting average.
Over 17 seasons, Grich won four gold gloves and was selected to six All-Star games. In 1981 he became the first second baseman to lead the league in home runs since 1901. He ended his career playing six years with the Orioles and 11 with the California Angles.
49. Don Baylor, DH, Baltimore Orioles
Unlike Grich, Baylor was known for his hitting ability. He only played four full seasons with the Orioles, but they were impactful years that got his successful career off and running. He led the minor leagues in doubles in both 1970 and 1971 while playing for Rochester. He hit 32 home runs in his first three years with O’s before having his best year with the team in 1975. Baylor finished the 1975 season batting .282 with 25 home runs and 76 RBI’s.
However, his best years occurred after he left the Orioles when they sent him with Paul Mitchell and Mike Torrez to the Oakland Athletics for Reggie Jackson, Ken Holtzman, and Bill VanBommell. He then signed with the California Angels in 1977. In 1979, he had the best year of his career, leading the American League in RBI’s (139) and runs (120) on his way to winning the AL MVP award and leading the Angels to their first ever division title. He became the second player in history to make the World Series in three consecutive seasons with three different teams (Red Sox in 86, Twins in 87, and A’s in 88).
Baylor is currently the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Angels. He accomplished many feats throughout his career, though not too many with the Orioles. With that being said, you still have to give a lot of credit to the team that drafted and developed him, and that team was the Baltimore Orioles.