The 40 Greatest Orioles of All-Time - No. 31 - Rick Dempsey

31. Rick Dempsey, C (1976-1986, 1992)

1983 World Series MVP

Rick Dempsey could be generously described as a bad hitter and probably an overrated defensive catcher.

But whatever, he's Rick Dempsey. He was drafted in the 15th round of the 1967 draft by Minnesota, and after never really catching on there (though he did make his major league debut in 1969, ten days after turning 20), he was traded to the Yankees in 1972. Dempsey was a backup plan for New York, then was sent to Baltimore in the big deal of '76.

In 59 games with his new team, he hit .213/.275/.224, then .226/.314/.315 in 91 games the next season. In '78, Dempsey took over behind the plate, and upped his hitting to non-embarrassing levels, at .259/.327/.356 with six homers. Dempsey would remain the No. 1 catcher for the Orioles through the 1986 season.

But '83 is what it's really all about with Dempsey as a player. He didn't have a good season, hitting .231/.311/.323 with four homers in 128 games. He then went 2-for-12 in the ALCS against the White Sox, but then came the World Series. Dempsey had five hits in the World Series, four doubles and a homer, and the Orioles beat the Phillies in five games. Dempsey was named World Series MVP and was an Oriole hero for all times.

Dempsey's dad was a Vaudeville actor and his mother was a Broadway star. Dempsey, of course, inherited their genes, and thus went on to stuff towels in his shirt during a 1977 rain delay at Fenway Park, imitating Babe Ruth and sliding across the tarp on his padded stomach. He then got the crowd to sing "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head." He did this a few more times in his career, once in '82 at Milwaukee with a Robin Yount jersey on, pretending to be Yount hitting a homer.

After his tenure with the Orioles ended in 1986, Dempsey signed with Cleveland for the 1987 season, where he did little and was released in October. He signed with the Dodgers and played three seasons there as a backup (two of them dreadfully bad), then moved to Milwaukee to catch 61 games in 1991. Dempsey ended his career in 1992, at age 42, with eight more games as a Baltimore Oriole.

In 2001, Dempsey was named the first base coach, replacing Eddie Murray. He will enter 2006 as the bullpen coach, replacing Ellie Hendricks.

There isn't a ton to say about Dempsey the player. But Dipper is an Oriole, and a memorable one.

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