Former Orioles right-hander Mike Mussina said it has certainly set in by now. He’s a National Baseball Hall of Famer. He got the needed votes in January and he will take his place July 21 in Cooperstown among the game’s all-time greats.
“This is the Mount Everest of baseball and I get to be a part of it,” Mussina said Sunday at Camden Yards after he threw out the first pitch and O’s manager Brandon Hyde caught it.
Mussina got 76.7 percent of the vote, making the Hall in his sixth year of eligibility. The Orioles actually drafted him twice. He didn’t sign when they selected him in round 11 out of Montoursville (Pa.) High School in 1987. He did when they picked him in round one, No. 20 overall, out of Stanford in 1990.
A year later, he made 12 starts for the Orioles and his big league career was underway. He went 270-153 with a 3.68 ERA and .638 win percentage between the Orioles and New York Yankees. He joined New York via free agency before the 2001 season.
The question about which hat would be on his Hall plaque, Orioles or Yankees, was answered not long after his election. None. He is going in with no logo.
“The next day after I learned I was elected, I knew that some kind of decision had to be made,” said Mussina. “I only thought about it for, like, 15 minutes. I can’t decide between the two organizations. One got my career started and one put me on a huge stage for a lot of years. I wouldn’t be going to Cooperstown without either one of them. I didn’t want to try and put one’s value over the other. I don’t think there is any way to do that. So, we’re going the way we’re going and I’m not the first one to do it. I feel good about it and I hope everybody else feels good about it. I know there are people that have all kinds of opinions, but we’re going to do it this way and we’re good with it.”
Mussina said he made the decision to go with no logo.
“I did. I did,” he said. “Ultimately, it’s the Hall of Fame that gets to decide, but it was only a 10-minute discussion and they were good with it.”
When Mussina signed with the Yankees as a free agent in December 2000, some Orioles fans were angered by that. Some bitter feelings lasted a long time. But Mussina senses that he’s long since made peace with Birdland and it does seem the large, large majority of O’s fans are now simply excited that an original Oriole is headed for Cooperstown.
“I hope,” Mussina said when asked if he feels the fans appreciate him now and the one-time hard feelings are long gone. “I’ve been here a few times now. We had a reunion a few years ago, 25 years from the opening of the stadium. We had a great time. I hope people are OK with it. I mean, it was a decision that was a good one for my career at the time.
“But the Baltimore Orioles will always be the first team that gave me a chance. Put me out there and said, ‘Kid, go do what you can do.’ And I stayed out there for 10 years, did the job the best I could, and feel I did some good things.
“They bring you back and let me throw out the first pitch. I hope the organization appreciates everything I was able to do as much as I appreciate them,” he said.
Next month his journey from Mountoursville to Cooperstown will be complete.
A mix of emotions: On the one hand, Orioles fans had to be thrilled for pitcher John Means. The left-hander was selected Sunday to the American League All-Star team. The one-time unheralded prospect who almost no one thought would even make the Orioles opening day roster, now is headed to Cleveland on the American League roster. Means worked hard to improve his game over the winter, perfected his changeup with Chris Holt during spring training and then unleashed it on AL hitters in April. He’s deserving of this honor.
But so is Trey Mancini, who is an All-Star snub. He’s been consistent and productive since the first game of the season. He is respected in the clubhouse and by the coaching staff, and how the team got behind Mancini to get voted into the game was pretty special.
Not to mention that he has these rankings among qualifying American League outfielders: second in batting average, slugging and OPS, tied for second in hits and total bases, tied for third in extra-base hits, tied for fourth in runs, tied for sixth in doubles and tied for eighth in homers.
A few of the players who made the AL All-Star roster in the outfield do not have enough plate appearances to qualify as league leaders. But even if we include them, Mancini ranks fourth out of eight in OPS.
1.084 - Joey Gallo
1.065 - Mike Trout (starter)
1.020 - George Springer (starter)
.907 - Trey Mancini
.888 - Austin Meadows
.862 - Michael Brantley (starter)
.845 - Whit Merrifield
.837 - Mookie Betts
The resume is there for Mancini. Every year deserving players are left off the team. This year it has happened in Birdland.
See you in Cooperstown, Moose. pic.twitter.com/mcIbd6rxvx-- Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) June 30, 2019