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Oh Spring, where are you?

Written by: Peter Coolbaugh

It is about 6 days until pitchers and catchers report. I can feel it. The sensation is building like the anticipation of a birthday or Christmas Day.

And while I can spend this time getting giddy about the calendar or talk about the current state of the Orioles, I am going to take a bit of a nostalgic trip into O's history and maybe give you some things to think about.

During the down time I have had this week due to successive massive winter storms, I spent the time watching some old episodes of Ken Burns' BASEBALL and reading high quality blogs like Camden Chat and Orioles Hangout. I came across an article that was on ESPN recently that talked about which stadiums and teams were the best at preserving their history meaning with statues and plaques at the venues. The Orioles did not score very high as you can imagine.

If you have been to other parks in MLB, you will know what I am talking about. Places like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago etc know how to honor their past with monuments to the all-time greats. Since I go to several Phillies games a year I can tell you that Schmidt, Ashburn, Carlton, and Roberts are all honored with statues either outside or inside Citizens Bank Park.

The one aspect I do not like about Oriole Park is that aside from the retired numbers on the west end of the warehouse, and the Orioles Hall of Fame along Eutaw Street, no where to be found are bronze imposing figures from days gone by. Sure, there is a statue of Baltimore-born Babe Ruth who technically did play for the minor league Orioles in 1914, but that is it.

Let's think about this. Orioles have been around since 1954, have 6 men in the Hall of Fame (1 was a manager), yet have no statues honoring these players. Hmmm....

Let us think about who may deserve this honor. All men were inducted into Cooperstown an Orioles cap.

1) Brooks - Rumors have it that the Human Vacuum Cleaner will get a statue in 2011, but it is to be located across the street from the park in the "island" that is near Pickles Pub. No one deserves a statue more than Brooks, but it should be adjacent to the ballpark, maybe at an entrance near third base. Let's hope that when it is unveiled, it goes in a more suitable location.

2) Jim Palmer - another "career" Oriole whose affiliation with the team continues to this day as a broadcaster. 3 Cy Young awards and 3 World Series rings. Yes, he too should be bronzed.

3) Cal Ripken Jr. - local boy, career orange & black, 2632 consecutive games, 3,000 hits, numerous Orioles team records. Do I need to say more? Statue is long overdue. No one would dare argue with this.

4) Earl Weaver - HOF manager, 4 pennants, 1 WS title, more than 1,000 wins, innovator for so many modern managerial techniques. That statue may be a short one, but it needs to be there nonetheless. Everyone loved Earl and we still do.

5) Frank Robinson
6) Eddie Murray

These last 2 certainly deserve it as well though the argument can be made that they accomplished some of their numbers in other uniforms, which is certainly accurate. Frank did lead the Birds to 2 titles, won the 1966 MVP and Triple Crown, and was one of the best players of his generation. Eddie left the Birds in 1988 after putting up stellar numbers only to return in 1996 to hit his 500th home run at Camden Yards. Both of this men surely deserve statues, but they may have to wait just a little while longer than the others.

I wish there was a way we could get the Orioles and/or the Stadium Authority to get moving on this topic. For Birds fans around the globe and for baseball in general, such and honor is long overdue for our legends.


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