#7 - Boog Powell, 1B/OF (1961-1974)
When Camden Yards opened its doors in 1992, I was at the second game played there with my father and my brother. We walked along a packed Eutaw Street taking in the sights, and when my father saw Boog Powell standing at Boog's BBQ, we had to rush over and get in line. Boog greeted us warmly and signed my Camden Yards inaugural game program, and that was my first exposure to one of the greatest players in Orioles history.
It's funny how many years I felt familiar with Boog Powell because of how visible he is around the park, because until a few years ago I never had any idea how good of a baseball player he actually was. He stopped playing for the Orioles five years before I was born, so the only thing I really knew about him was that he was an old time Oriole and something of a giant.
But man, he was good. After going 1-for-13 over the last five games of the 1961 season, Boog was up for good beginning in 1962. In 1963 he hit 25 home runs and 22 doubles for the Orioles with an OPS+ of 125, and he only got better from there. He broke out in 1964, hitting .290/.399/.606 with 39 home runs.
From 1962-1965, Boog Powell played mostly left field for the Orioles. The O's had Jim Gentile playing first base in '62 and '63, then Norm Siebern (who the O's traded Gentile for) in '64 and '65. But after Siebern left the team, first base belonged to Boog Powell.
In 1966, which we all know as the year of the Orioles first World Series championship, Boog hit .287/.372/.532 with 34 home runs. He came in third place in the A.L. MVP race behind teammates Frank and Brooks Robinson and went 5-for-14 in the World Series against the Dodgers.
After being selected for the first of four consecutive All-Star Games in 1968, Boog again came close to the MVP in 1969. He slugged 37 home runs with a 160 OPS+ but came in second in voting to Harmon Killebrew. But finally, in 1970, he brought home the trophy. He hit 35 home runs with an on-base percentage of .412 that season.
Boog Powell played in four World Series with the Orioles, but never was he more on fire in the playoffs than in 1970. In the ALCS with the Minnesota Twins (who didn't stand a chance, really, being swept in three games by a combined score of 27-10), Boog went 6-for-14 with six RBI. And in the World Series against the Reds, he had five hits and five walks in five games, with two home runs.
In 1973-74, Boog's power dropped and he found himself sharing time at first base with Earl Williams. He was still an above-average hitter, just not as good as he used to be. The Orioles traded him to the Cleveland Indians for two players who never contributed much on the field. Boog had a fantastic 1975 with the Indians but fell off the table after that. He retired in 1977 after being released by the Dodgers in August.
Boog Powell was the kind of player that the word slugger was created for. He had four seasons with over 30 home runs. The only Oriole to do it more is Eddie Murray. His 303 home runs as an Oriole ranks third all time behind only Cal Ripken and Murray. But he wasn't just a power hitter, he was also patient. He had a career walk rate of 12.8% and from 1964-1974 he topped 15% four times. His 889 walks is third on the O's all-time list. His total hitting line as an Oriole was .266/.362/.465 (OPS+ 135). He was elected into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1979.
So there you have it. Boog Powell is not only a successful businessman and local celebrity who signs autographs while you wait for your pit beef sandwich. He is also the seventh best Oriole of all time.