Thursday, October 4, 2012
no. 99 - mark belanger
Who is the man: Mark Belanger had just completed his third of nearly a dozen straight years as the starting shortstop for the Orioles. After rapping out 152 hits in 1969, the lifetime .228 hitter came down to earth in 1970, hitting .218.
Can ya dig it: Anytime I see Belanger pictured holding a bat on his card, it looks a little silly. But Topps featured him with a bat on his rookie card in 1967, as well as in 1972, '74, '77, '79 and '82.
Right on: Belanger has a nice, clean signature, although it's a bit obscured by his dark shirt sleeve.
You see this cat Belanger is a bad mother: Belanger is the only player in big league history to play in 2,000 games and not reach a .300 slugging percentage. You have to have the goods on someone to be able to do that. Or field particularly well. Or play during the 1970s. Or just be plain bad-ass.
Shut your mouth: Belanger's 17-year-career with the Orioles ended after Belanger was critical of legendary manager Earl Weaver. Belanger felt that Weaver's managerial abilities were slipping and said so publicly at the end of the 1981 season. Soon after, GM Hank Peters told Belanger that the team had decided to go with younger players and he was not re-signed.
No one understands him but his woman: Coaches noticed Belanger's fielding ability right away. Orioles coach Billy Hunter said that Belanger, even at age 18, was almost too good. "If anything, he was too smooth," Hunter said.
(A word about the back): Sentences like the one that ends Belanger's bio drive me crazy. Those are two unrelated thoughts there, bio writer! It's like saying, "Well-known for his love of pie, he's in the other room watching TV." Huh?