Well, that is 3-for-3.
The Orioles have now had three statue ceremonies, and they have all been fantastic and a great reunion of Baltimore Orioles royalty.
Jim Palmer was honored today and there was a real buzz in the crowd when the fans got a glimpse of Brooks Robinson, who attended today along with Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and Earl Weaver. Also present were many former Orioles, including Brady Anderson, Mike Bordick, Al Bumbry, Rick Dempsey, Dick Hall, Billy Hunter, Boog Powell, Terry Crowley, Tippy Martinez and Scott McGregor.
Here are some highlights from Palmer’s speech at the ceremony:
On Earl Weaver and the greats:
“When I see Earl, one of the great managers of all time, that’s why he’s in the Hall of Fame. I was pretty relaxed about this speech until he told me, ‘You better be better than I was.’ ” ...
“One of the great things is that Earl managed only in an Oriole uniform. Brooks played only in an Oriole uniform. Cal played only in an Oriole uniform and I never played in any other uniform but the Orioles,” Palmer said to big applause.
“I saw Eddie take batting practice early in his career and I said this kid will never make it. But 500 home runs and 3,000 hits later he is in the Hall of Fame. I was wrong on that one.” ...
“Earl said, ‘I hope you won’t say anything bad about me.’ How can you say anything negative about the guy that gave you the ball every fourth day? But the dynamic I never understood when you are that young is if they give you the ball every fourth day, they trust you. Earl, thank you for trusting me all those years.”
On his parents:
“I was born in New York and I was adopted and I was very fortunate. One of the things I’ve learned in my 66 years is it’s really not about your biological parents, but it’s about the parents that raised you.” ...
“My parents said to me ‘I think you should sign with the Orioles.’ I could have signed with Houston or other teams. My parents said there is just something about Jim Russo, a scout I had been with.”
On Cal Ripken Senior:
“When I look at Cal Ripken, I think how lucky all of us that came up through the minor leagues were to have his dad as a manager,” he said to more big applause.
“In 1964 I played in Aberdeen, South Dakota. We won 14 in a row in spring training and 25 of our first 29. Mark Belanger was on that team. We had a great starting staff with guys like Eddie Watt and Davey Leonard.” ...
“Cal Senior talked about having fun and having a passion for getting better on a daily basis. I learned all these things and learned that there would be something I could do every day to get better. It wasn’t about going out and going through the motions. This is what I learned when you are 18 years old.”
Palmer briefly became emotional when he talked about the late Mike Flanagan. He told the story of the year when Flanagan was 2-9 at one point and Palmer told Weaver he needed to support and not criticize the left-hander. The next day, Weaver spoke glowingly of Flanagan in the Boston Globe and the native New Englander went on to have an amazing season from that point on.
It was another great day and another day to honor an Orioles great.