The 40 Greatest Orioles of All-Time - No. 33 - Tippy Martinez

33. Tippy Martinez, LHP (1976-1986)

All-Star: 1983

Felix Anthony "Tippy" Martinez was born in La Junta, Colorado, on May 31, 1950. He attended Colorado State University, and was signed by the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1972. He was in New York for 10 games in 1974, then 23 more in 1975, two of them starts, which were the only two starts he'd ever make. 28 innings into the 1976 season for Martinez, he was sent to Baltimore along with Rick Dempsey and Scott McGregor (as well as Rudy May and Dave Pagan) for Doyle Alexander, Grant Jackson, Ellie Hendricks and Jimmy Freeman. The Yankees got the AL pennant in '76, but Martinez, Dempsey and McGregor paid off down the line for the O's.

Between the O's and Yankees in '76, Martinez put up a 2.33 ERA in 69 2/3 innings, with 10 saves (eight as an Oriole). Martinez served as a set-up man the next few years, saving a few games along the way -- nine in '77, five in '78, three in '79, 10 in '80, 11 in '81. He was a good reliever all of those years except for '78, when he was roughed up pretty badly.

In 1982, he saved 16 games, but it was 1983 that was his best season: 2.35 ERA (168 park-adjusted ERA+), 81 strikeouts in 103 1/3 innings, and 21 saves. He made his only All-Star game that season.

Tippy was a World Series champion in '83 and a fan favorite all-around, but it was on August 24, 1983, that Tippy Martinez made his peculiar mark in the 10th inning of a game against the Blue Jays. With infielder Lenn Sakata in as an emergency catcher, Martinez relieves Tim Stoddard with Barry Bonnell on first base. The Blue Jays have obviously been instructed to run on Sakata. Martinez picks Bonnell off. He walks Dave Collins. Picks him off. Willie Upshaw hits a single and gets picked off. Three pickoffs in one inning, and Tippy Martinez is in the record books.

After '83, though, Tippy's decline set in. He had a down year in '84, saving 17 games with a 3.91 ERA, and then was hammered in 49 games in 1985. '86 would be his last season with the Birds, and he was even worse than the year before, but this time pitched just 16 innings. On June 4, 1987, Martinez was released by the Orioles. He attempted a comeback in 1988 with the Twins, which lasted 17 days and four awful innings. At 38, he was done.

FRANCHISE RANKINGS
2nd, Games Pitched (499)
2nd, Saves (105)
1st, Games Finished (298)

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