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The 40 Greatest Orioles of All-Time - No. 18 - Al Bumbry

18. Al Bumbry, OF (1972-1984)

1973 American League Rookie of the Year
All-Star: 1980

Al Bumbry is generally regarded as "the fastest player in Oriole history," which I don't know if that's true or not, and that's not really the point anyway. When he retired, he was Baltimore's all-time leader in stolen bases with 252. (Sisler has the most in franchise history, with 351.)

Bumbry was born on April 21, 1947, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and attended Virginia State University. He was drafted in the 11th round in 1968, and served in the Vietnam War, where he earned a Bronze Star.

He came up at age 25 in 1972, playing in nine games, and stuck in 1973, when he won the American League Rookie of the Year award, hitting .337/.398/.500 over 356 at-bats, with 15 doubles, 11 triples, seven homers, 34 RBI, 23 steals and 73 runs scored.

In '74, Bumbry was awful over 94 games, and played in 114 games in 1975 as well, where he got back into form a little bit. But he was never as good as he was as a rookie. However, he had some very solid years, including 1977 (.317/.371/.411), and his best year came at age 33 in 1980 - .318/.392/.433 with 29 doubles, nine triples, nine homers, 53 RBI, 44 steals, 75 walks, 205 hits, 118 runs scored. It was his first and only All-Star Game appearance, as well.

For his career, Bumbry had a 104 park-adjusted OPS+, had a .281/.343/.378 line) stole some bases, became a good defensive center fielder with time, and was a member of championship teams in 1979 and 1983. In 1985, he signed with the Padres, where he was a reserve outfielder that played in 68 games (95 at-bats). After that one season out west, Bumbry retired.

My favorite quote about Bumbry comes from Earl Weaver:

Raleighs have gone from six fifty to nine dollars a carton, but there's a three-quarter cent coupon on the back. You can get all kinds of things with them, blenders, everything. I saved up enough one time and got Al Bumbry.

Bumbry also participated in the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989, hitting .340 over 51 games for the Winter Haven Super Sox. Others on that team (which lasted just one season, and the league didn't last much longer) included Fergie Jenkins, Mike Cuellar, Cecil Cooper, Butch Hobson, and, of course, the immortal Pete LaCock.