Opening day at Camden Yards is a week away, and preparations at the ballpark continue to get it ready for the Tigers-Orioles game that will be cause for civic celebration, innovative excuses for missing school and work, and early afternoon beers at Pickles Pub. Whatever your opening day traditions are - and feel free to share them in the comments section below, where you can be part of the trial of our new commenting system - I’m sure your time-tested plans are well under way.
The MASN television crew is also getting ready for the season. Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer broadcast Sunday’s Red Sox-Orioles game in Sarasota, Fla., the last in their practice run for April’s games that count. Palmer was in midseason form, breaking down pitching and defense, spinning tales of when he was an Oriole and talking about the Birds’ new additions.
Hard to believe Palmer is 65; he sure doesn’t look it, does he? A whole generation of O’s fans barely remember when Palmer was a Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, a perennial All-Star and 20-game winner. The lanky right-hander nicknamed “Cakes” - because of his breakfast choice the morning of a long-ago start - is a visible link to the team’s last appearance in the World Series in 1983. Palmer was the the winning pitcher in Game 3 in Philly, winning in relief of Mike Flanagan.
But the 1990 Hall of Fame inductee was more than an accomplished pitcher. He also served as an in-demand pitchman, for everything from Jockey underwear to financial services at The Money Store. On YouTube, we discovered this circa-1970s television advertisement for a popular men’s hair styling product.
I’m not sure this is what O’s manager Buck Showalter means when he talks about the “big, hairy guys” that dominate the American League East, but it’s interesting to remember a time when Palmer was pitching for a product whose catchphrase was “A little dab’ll do ya!”
A couple of historical notes:
Looks like much of this commercial was shot during spring training (the palm trees beyond the fences are a giveaway), which means it’s likely that Miami’s Bobby Maduro Stadium, the O’s Grapefruit League home from 1959-80, was the location. And, yes, this was the time before the designated hitter, when pitchers - including Palmer - batted and ran the bases. For the record, Palmer was a pretty good hitter for a pitcher, boasting a lifetime .174 batting average (85-for-489) with three homers and 41 RBIs.
Since you can’t get enough of Palmer TV memories, here’s one of his spots for The Money Store:
And one of his Jockey ads from 1983: