Blog Spotlight: NumerOlogy

And now the greatly anticipated second part of this week's blog spotlight :-), with the focus on NumerOlogy: The Uniform Number History of the Baltimore Orioles. Like Orioles Card "O" the Day, NumerOlogy is also the creation of Kevin Brotzman. 

NumerOlogy is really an amazing website. If you've never visited it, you just have to. I warn you that you'll be there a long time. Kevin has documented the uniform numbers for every Baltimore Oriole since the team got to town in 1954, and he's done it in several different ways. You can look at a quick reference list, you can read a detailed history of each number, you can see who wore a number first or who wore a number longest. You get the picture. And once you've read all of that, you can just follow along with the updates as players come and go throughout the year.

See what Kevin has to say about NumerOlogy below the jump, and when you're finished with that, go visit the site. You won't be sorry.

1. This website is a basically huge research project. How long did it take you to complete it? Is it entirely complete? Were there any players whose numbers you found particularly difficult to identify, or years where there didn't seem to be as good documentation of the numbers?

I went public with the site in February of 2008, and at that point I'd been working on it for at least eight months, poring through online reference sites, image searches, books, and anything else that might have something to do with a player's uniform number. After I was reasonably satisfied that I had the numbers in place, I put together the site with my novice-level HTML skills.

It's not entirely complete, but I'm confident that it's pretty close. I'm missing info for a couple of coaches and fringy players. There are a handful of players who wore multiple numbers in one season where I'm unclear on the timeline. Occasionally I'll also find something I'd missed; last summer I bought a book that had a picture of a young Tippy Martinez wearing #36. So it's a work in progress; the goal is to have the level of detail and accuracy that Jon Springer of Mets by the Numbers has achieved. Of course, it took him about ten years to get there, so I feel like I'm making good progress.

It's toughest to verify the numbers for players from the early years of the franchise, the 1950s. The team was still being built, and there was more turnover, and obviously the farther back you go, the less documentation is available. It's also a struggle to chase down numbers for the lesser-known players, who in some cases don't even spend a week in uniform. I drove myself nuts trying to get a number for Danny Ardoin, who caught five games in late 2006. Eventually I found in-game photos of him on a random photo site, probably Wire Image.

2. Have you received any recognition for your work? I know I've used it as a reference tool and I'd have to imagine others have as well.

Yeah, I've gotten some great publicity and feedback. When it launched, I sent out a couple of emails to local reporters and the like, and Bill Ordine gave me a great write-up and link in his blog on the Baltimore Sun. As luck would have it, he posted that entry the day of the Erik Bedard trade, and at one point that day there were three separate links to his blog entry on the Sports section home page! I took a screenshot to preserve the moment. Dan Connolly has also linked to me on a couple of occasions, and I was featured in the Sun's Opening Day profile of O's bloggers this past April (as was Camden Chat, of course).

The biggest thrill for me is that I've gotten to interact with a few former Orioles. The weekend after the site launch I received an email from Dick Hall, who was a pretty good reliever for the team from 1961-1966 and 1969-1971. His grandson had shown him the site and he was pretty complimentary of it. He also helped me track down more information about the numbers that he wore, as he had a vague recollection of being in #38 when he first arrived in 1961. Sure enough, I found evidence that he'd been #38 before switching to his more familiar #29. I've also been contacted by John O'Donoghue, who pitched a few games for the Birds in 1993 and had been a college teammate of Ben McDonald. He had read one of my blog posts about him and liked it, and checked out the website as well. I ended up interviewing him through email, and he was very forthcoming and genuine.

3. So you're a uniform junkie? Or just a uniform number junkie? What's your favorite O's uniform?

Sure, I have plenty of opinions about sports uniforms, and a lot of them fall in line with the orthodoxy of Paul Lukas at UniWatch. For me, nothing beats the 1966-1970 Orioles road uniforms, right before they switched to the cheesy polyester. Not only are they associated with the glory years, it's just a classic look. The solid black cap and orange brim with the cartoon bird, the script "Baltimore" across the chest with black placket piping and no sleeve stripes, and of course the orange, black, and white striped stirrups. You can't beat that with a stick.

4. Anything important about this site you'd like people to know?

The best way to ensure the accuracy of the information on NumerOlogy is to straighten me out if you find something I've missed. If you've got an official scorecard that has Boog Powell listed as #8, or a dated photo of Scott McGregor in #39, scan it and email it to me, and I'll set things right and acknowledge your contribution on the home page. After all, it's meant to be a great resource and time-waster for all O's fans.

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