17. Gus Triandos, C/1B (1955-1962)
All-Star: 1957, 1958, 1959
Gus Triandos was probably the first "original" "star" player that the Orioles had after moving to Baltimore. He came over from the Yankees, where he was in no position to play any with Yogi Berra in the way, in that enormous November 1954 trade that I absolutely refuse to go over again. He killed pitching in the minor leagues for New York from 1948-1954 (two of those years in the Army), but, well, Yogi Berra.
He started in 1955, at age 24, playing mostly first base. He hit .277/.333/.399 with 12 homers and 65 RBI. The next season, he mostly caught but still played 52 games at first, and hit .279/.348/.462 with 21 homers and 88 RBI.
In 1957, he made the first of three consecutive All-Star teams, hitting .254/.317/.445 with 19 homers and 72 RBI. In 1958 he set a career high for homers in a season (30), but hit 25 with 76 less plate appearances the next season. After that, he regressed before being traded to Detroit, then Philadelphia, then purchsed by the Astros, then released, and retiring after the 1965 season. His trade from Detroit to Philly is notable because the Tigers also included Jim Bunning in the deal for Jack Hamilton and Don Demeter, and Bunning wasn't exactly washed up, winning 75 games in four years for the Phillies.
The most referenced thing about Triandos was that he was deadly slow on the basepaths, called by Bill James "the slowest player of the 1950s." Here is an excerpt from The New Historical Baseball Abstract, which, as always, I greatly recommend:
Triandos was a powerful man who, had he not been a catcher and had he reached the majors earlier, could very probably have hit 400 or even 500 major league homers. In December 1961, it was reported that Triandos had been traded to the Dodgers for Charlie Neal and John Roseboro. A reporter called Triandos and asked for his reaction. Triandos let out a loud "Ee-yah," and told the reporter how thrilled he was to be getting out of Baltimore.
Unfortunately, the reporter had been mistaken; there was no trade. Oops.
I've never read much more on Triandos disliking playing in Baltimore, so if there's more to that that someone can share, I'd appreciate it.
Triandos went through hell trying to catch Hoyt Wilhelm. On April 26, 1959, he allowed four passed balls catching Wilhelm. On May 4, 1960, he allowed three in one inning. Teammate Joe Ginsberg did the same thing six days later.
For his career, Triandos hit .244/.322/.413 with 167 homers and 608 RBI. He was also never caught stealing in 1,206 games in the major leagues. He stole one base, in 1958.