Summer Savings! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Sports Orioles

A ballplayer who won't give up

When former Orioles manager Dave Trembley made the relatively short trip from St. Petersburg, Fla. to the club's minor league complex in Sarasota in late September 2009, his team was in the midst of a 13-game losing streak, prompting speculation that he was about to lose his job.

Trembley, who took every lost hard, was a beaten man, but his own situation became an afterthought when he spotted Orioles' outfield prospect Kieron Pope, a player he once coached, needing assistance from a trainer just to walk on a treadmill set to its lowest speed.

Trembley, remembering Pope as a "physical specimen" who hit balls further than anybody, nearly broke out into tears.

Months later, I met Pope at the same complex and sat down with him to discuss his long and grueling recovery from a broken right femur, an injury that he sustained while trying to leg out a base hit during spring training. The soft-spoken 24-year-old from Georgia needed three different surgeries in order to just walk without a limp.

At the time, Pope still hadn't been cleared to play yet, but just being in uniform again had him smiling broadly.

He eventually was cleared and batted .250 with six homers and 44 RBIs in 75 games for Single-A Delmarva. At the end of the season, the organization awarded him with the Moe Drabowsky Comeback Player of the Year award.

In another losing season for the Orioles that included one of the worst starts in baseball history, two managerial changes followed by an uplifting finish, the image of Pope, smiling and in uniform again, is the one I choose to remember.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • When Williams almost smiled

    When Williams almost smiled

    There is nothing in sports more entertaining than watching Gary Williams work the sideline at a big game.

  • Unexpected reunion

    Unexpected reunion

    Writing the daily Oriole notebook -- a hodgepodge of team updates, personnel news and injury reports -- can become monotonous on the best of days. On nights when you are by yourself on the road and you face tight deadlines, it often falls into the survive-and-advance category.

  • Again? Yes

    Again? Yes

    Sometimes when you watch a high school sporting event, you just know you will never see anything like it again. That's what I said after watching Jess Harlee's incredible individual performance in leading Fallston to a state girls basketball championship in 2009. Then came 2010.

  • Terps lacrosse resurgence

    Terps lacrosse resurgence

    When I began covering college women's lacrosse, Maryland owned the sport. The Terrapins were in the process of winning seven straight NCAA championships and I watched them win the last five, including a thrilling 14-13 overtime win against Georgetown in 2001. After that, the Terps fell off the...

  • The dunk that rocked Baltimore

    The dunk that rocked Baltimore

    Much of the early buzz in the 2009-10 boys basketball season was directed toward a freshman point guard at Patterson. All I kept hearing was how incredible this kid was and that he was all of 5-feet-6 and 155 pounds. His early numbers backed it up, so I went to see for myself.

  • Flacco's evolution on display

    Flacco's evolution on display

    When I think of the 2010 season for the Ravens, the special moment was Joe Flacco's comeback in Pittsburgh. If Flacco develops into an elite quarterback, I will look back at the last minute of this game as his first defining moment.