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Get to know your Orioles: Tommy Hunter

You wouldn't know it from looking at him, but Tommy Hunter was once a world champion martial artist. He also likes Subway a lot. He's an interesting fella.

Kevin C. Cox

When building a relief pitcher you will need a couple things. First off, he is going to have a power arm, say maybe a fastball that can touch triple digits. Add to that a few deficiencies; reasons he can't be a starter. Perhaps he leaves way too many balls up or only has one real pitch. And it almost seems mandatory to make him a bit strange, strange enough to give us moments like catching a ball barehanded or falling to retrieve a home run when he isn't even in the game or this beautiful moment.

Bio

Name: Raymond Thomas Hunter Number: 29
Born: July 3, 1986 (28 years old) in Indianapolis, IN
Height: 6'3" Weight: 260 lbs
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Drafted: 1st round (54th overall) in 2007 by the Texas Rangers
School: Cathedral High School (Indianapolis, IN)
University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Contract: $3,000,000 in 2014 (Free Agent: 2016)
Became an Oriole: Traded with Chris Davis from the Rangers in exchange for pitcher Koji Uehara
Twitter: @tHunter29
Walk-up Song: "Welcome Home" by Coheed and Cambria

Personal

Last week, we took a look at one half of the return from the 2011 trade that sent Koji Uehara to Texas. Now, we check out the other goofball. It's pitcher, and former closer, Tommy Hunter.

Hunter drew the ire of some Oriole fans in the beginning of the season, and it was pretty well deserved. He was anointed the heir apparent to Jim Johnson. The expectation was that the Alabama product would slot in right behind Johnson, Gregg Olsen and Randy Myers in the ninth inning history of Baltimore, and, instead, he stunk up the place.

We all know what went down. He left everyone on the edge of their seats with nubs for fingernails. But I'm here to sugar-coat the individuals and make you all understand the man, not the player. So, let's do just that.

Being one of the veterans of the Oriole bullpen he has created a set of rules for the relief pitchers. He revealed number one on an episode of "Intentional Talk" back in April. That rule is "Respect the fart". He failed to go into much more detail than that, keeping the depth of the rule a mystery. So, if you thought the Baltimore 'pen had a high brow sense of humor then you are sadly mistaken.

Let's wind the clock back even further. The sporting history of one Raymond Hunter (his middle name is where he gets "Tommy") began, not with baseball, but rather judo. It is a Japanese form of unarmed combat that was derived from jujitsu. The object of it all is to hold, throw and take down your opponent.

When he was five his grandmother purchased him a few judo classes. Why? Because Tommy was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the time.

"I wanted to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle," he told the Baltimore Sun. "That was my thing. Everything was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

He trained along with his older sister, Megan, under master C.M. Park. He learned to control both his mind and body.

"The main thing about judo is balance," he told the Sun. " It helps your breathing, too. Being choked out is a little more pressure than having guys on second and third."

But there was also a teaching of respect and discipline.

"I was five years old, getting hit over the head with bamboo sticks cause my mouth was open.", said Hunter.

Hunter and his sister were naturals. Megan became a black belt and trained with the U.S Olympic team leading into the 1996 Summer Games. Tommy won the Junior Olympics gold medal back-to-back years when he was 11 and 12.

Today, Hunter only busts out the judo moves with special assistant Brady Anderson. The former Oriole outfielder knows some jujitsu so they give each other a good match every so often in the clubhouse.

To be able to compete with the smaller Anderson, Hunter is on a new endeavor to become a spokesman for Subway like "Jared" before him. This is serious.

Back in April, he would mention the food chain frequently with the media.

After a game in New York in the season's first month he told the press the following:

"Subway actually presented me with a good meal before the game. They have a quality restaurant and I like my Subway sandwiches."

Until that all materializes he will be stuck as a middle relief pitcher on the division-leading Orioles.

His biggest fan in that endeavor is his new bride. The couple was married on January fourth and plan to move into a new house after the season

Quick Hits

  • Favorite Food: Lasagna
  • Favorite Movie: It's a tie between "Mr. Holland's Opus", "Patch Adams", "Captain Phillips", "Frozen", "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Forrest Gump". (Sheesh!)
  • Baseball fun fact: Hunter surrendered the final home run of Ken Griffey Jr.'s career (number 630).
  • Sport (besides baseball): Basketball and judo.
  • If he wasn't a baseball player he would be: something with sports, perhaps a P.E. teacher.
  • Off-season spot: The woods. He told MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli that it just "has to have trees".
  • Prized Possession: His ring from the 2010 ALCS with Texas.
  • Dog: Gold Retriever named "Charlie"
  • College teammates with: David Robertson and Alex Avila
  • Judo story: Hunter had a few Ranger teammates over his house. Cliff Lee inquired about Hunter's judo abilities and asked him to "put me in a move that impresses me". Tommy obliged and, according to Hunter, the current Phillie freaked out a bit.