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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Happy retirement to an Orioles fan favorite

Darren O’Day, a clubhouse leader and workhorse reliever during the last great era of O’s teams, is hanging up the spikes.

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MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles
If you didn’t already know this was Darren O’Day, the pitching delivery would give it away.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

OK, Orioles fans, I want to hear you one last time:

O’Daaaaay O’Day O’Day O’Daaay! O’Daaaay! O’Daaaay!

After 15 seasons in the big leagues, Darren O’Day announced his retirement from baseball yesterday, wrapping up a productive career for the charismatic right-hander, much of it spent in Baltimore.

O’Day will always be fondly remembered in Birdland for his performance on the field and his personality off of it. He was one of the Orioles’ most effective relief pitchers ever, posting a tidy 2.40 ERA and remarkable 0.994 WHIP in in seven seasons with the club — including an All-Star 2015 campaign — and making the sixth-most appearances (391) in O’s history. Though he was never the Birds’ full-time closer, he served perhaps an even more valuable role as a late-inning fireman who could stifle opposing rallies, shutting down hitters with his distinctive submarining delivery and trotting off the mound to the aforementioned chant from raucous Camden Yards crowds.

O’Day’s arrival in Baltimore in 2012 coincided exactly with the Orioles’ transformation from annual laughingstock into a yearly contender, and O’Day played no small role in that renaissance. He was the anchor of a sensational bullpen that led the magical 2012 O’s to a 93-win season, and was a key reliever for all three of the Birds’ postseason clubs for the next half-decade. Along the way, he became a clubhouse and fan favorite for his goofy personality, from his love of the solo wheel to his instant-classic photo shoots.

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

O’Day’s Orioles tenure, unfortunately, ended with a whimper following a string of injuries in his later years. He was already on the IL with a season-ending injury when the collapsing 2018 Orioles tossed him into the Kevin Gausman trade with Atlanta to offload his remaining salary. Even still, O’Day battled back to pitch four more seasons in the bigs, including nine playoff appearances with the Braves. By ERA+, which adjusts ERA for ballpark and run environment, O’Day’s was the fifth-best in MLB history for a pitcher who worked 400 or more games. Not too shabby.

Congratulations on a great career, Darren. We’ll see you at your Orioles Hall of Fame induction in a few years.


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Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! And speaking of Cole Irvin, the new O’s lefty turns 29 today. Have a good one, Cole, and good luck in the black and orange. The only former Oriole born on Jan. 31 is right-hander Joel Bennett (53), who pitched two games for the 1998 Birds.

The Orioles generally don’t do much on Jan. 31. Their last transaction on this day was in 2020, when they claimed Travis Lakins Sr. off waivers from the Cubs. Lakins pitched parts of three seasons with the Orioles, and not particularly well, struggling to a 5.20 ERA in 52 games. The O’s cut him loose last October and he’s currently a free agent.