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Remembering George Sisler

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This post for our Opening Day marathon remembers the roots of the Orioles, a time before they played in Baltimore.

This statue of George Sisler is not outside of Camden Yards, but rather in St. Louis where the Cardinals call home.
This statue of George Sisler is not outside of Camden Yards, but rather in St. Louis where the Cardinals call home.
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

As humans, it is in our nature to be curious about where we came from. We invest time to trace back our family trees and to find out about our past. If one of our ancestors did something cool, we tend to be prideful of it. My grandfather fought in World War II and it's something that I've always been proud of.

The Washington Nationals get criticism for honoring members of the Washington Senators and the Washington Homestead Greys (a Negro League team), but personally, I think it's cool that they honor them. That's why I have always found it disappointing that the Orioles don't mention the St. Louis Browns. While the Browns were roughly as bad as the football team in Cleveland, they did have one of the greatest players of all-time: George Sisler.

Sisler is perhaps most famous for holding the single season hit record (257) from 1920 until 2004, when Ichiro Suzuki broke his record with 262 hits. He also led the league in batting twice, batting .407 in 1920 and .420 in 1922. Sisler was remarkably consistent as a hitter with a batting average of at least .305 in 13 of his 15 seasons.

He was more than just a great hitter. Sisler was also a terrific base runner, leading the league in steals in 1918, 1921, 1922, and 1927. He also led the league in triples in 1921 and 1922. Sisler had the misfortune of playing at the same time as some of the best players of all-time, including Babe Ruth, Roger Hornsby, and Ty Cobb so he is often overlooked as a player.

George Sisler would have been a great Oriole. Not just because of his great ability to make contact, but because like so many recent Orioles, he didn't take many walks. His career on base percentage of .379 looks amazing, but his career batting average was .340. Sisler, like many at the time, was a free swinger. Just like Vladimir Guerrero and Adam Jones, Sisler justified being a free swinger by getting hits off pitches that few other players would have swung at.

Ironically, Sisler likely influenced the Pirates beating the Orioles in 1971. After he retired, Sisler spent some time as a coach for the Pirates. In 1961, he convinced Roberto Clemente to switch to a bigger bat. When he did, he won the 1962 batting title and Clemente stuck with the big bat. Clemente's big bat helped him lead the Pirates to a World Series win over the Orioles in 1971.

Orioles fans love the three run homer. It's in our DNA thanks to the late Earl Weaver and the heroics of Frank Robinson and Chris Davis. Sisler's batting style would not have fit into that strategy (unless he's one of the two guys on base when said three run homers occur). We have a preconceived notion that first basemen must be power hitters. But let's appreciate how great of a contact hitter Sisler was and how great it would have been to see him in an Orioles uniform.

Next time you drink a beer, pour one out for Mr. Sisler. A man who would have been a mighty fine Oriole and who Orioles fans should be proud of.

Dave writes about the NHL, NFL, MLB, and WWE for the FanSided news desk. He roots for relish in the hot dog race, believes that bat flips are the best, and is a sucker for weird relief pitchers. You can follow him on Twitter at @BmoreDaveS.

The stories presented as part of the 2016 Camden Chat Opening Day Marathon are written by members of our community. To add your voice to the site please consider writing a FanPost.