Alex Rodriguez made headlines this week by becoming only the fourth player in baseball history to have homered both as a teenager and after turning 40. The others to have done it are Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield. Surely you know that if I mention Alex Rodriguez in an Orioles blog post, there has to be a favorable connection to the hometown team. And there is.
Brooks Robinson was roughly a month shy of joining the group of players listed above in the pre-20/40+ home run club. Robinson’s first career home run came on Sept. 29, 1956; he was 19 years old. Robinson’s final career home run came on April 19, 1977; he was 39 years old. Robinson turned 40 on May 18, 1977.
I wrote about Robinson’s memorable final home run in a 2011 MASN guest blog. You can get the full story in that post. The three-run, pinch-hit homer gave the Orioles a dramatic walk-off victory in the bottom of the 10th inning after they entered the final frame trailing 5-2. The game story in the Associated Press read, “Brooks Robinson gave it his best shot - then gave it his best trot.”
Here are some other fun facts I discovered while researching Orioles batters young and old who have homered in the wake of A-Rod’s accomplishment:
-Four Orioles have homered as teenagers, and half of them are pitchers: Robinson, Wayne Causey, Milt Pappas, and Jim Palmer. Fewer than 10 pitchers to have ever played the game can make that claim.
- Causey is the youngest Oriole to hit a homer. Causey’s first career home run on June 17, 1955 came at the tender age of 18. His two home runs prior to the age of 20 are the most by any Orioles batter. You can learn more about Causey in this week’s Flashback Friday post on Roar from 34.
- Nine Orioles have homered after their 40th birthday: Dave Philey, Tim Raines, Jim Thome, B.J. Surhoff, Jeff Conine, Eddie Murray, Harold Baines, Cal Ripken Jr., and Rafael Palmeiro.
- Baines has the most home runs by any Orioles batter age 40 or more. Baines hit a total of 34 home runs in Baltimore after turning 40, 24 of them in 1999 and 10 more in 2000.
- Jim Thome is the most recent O’s player to have homered after age 40. Thome had three home runs (Was it really that many?) in 2012 during his age-41 season.
- The Orioles have twice had multiple 40-year-old players homer in the same season. In 2001, Cal Ripken Jr. homered 14 times in his age-40 season while Tim Raines homered once in his age-41 season. In 2005, Rafael Palmeiro homered 18 times in his age-40 season while teammate B.J. Surhoff homered five times in his age-40 season.
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.