He'll replace interim Juan Samuel, the club's third base coach who compiled a 16-31 record after taking over for Dave Trembley on June 4. The hiring was first reported by ESPN. He'll take over Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels for the start of a seven-game home stand. His deal is for three years starting in 2011, and the coaching staff is expected to remain with the team through at least the end of the season.
Most recently an ESPN baseball analyst, Showalter hasn't managed since 2006 with the Texas Rangers. He has had plenty of success, however, compiling an 882-833 record with the New York Yankees (1992-1995), Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000) and Rangers (2003-2006), twice being named American League Manager of the Year (1994, 2004).
"Buck's baseball IQ is off the charts. He knows the game, and I think he would be great for that job over there," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said this season. "He's really good at building something up, especially with young players, and building them into something where they can be a contender."
Showalter takes the reins of a team that has had 12 consecutive losing seasons and has the worst record in baseball this year. He has been at helm of struggling clubs in the past. The Yankees hadn't made the playoffs in 14 years when he got them into the postseason in 1995.
A year after taking over a last-place Rangers team, he had Texas in playoff contention for most of the 2004 season. He built the Diamondbacks from the ground up as the first manager in club history, guiding them from 97 losses in their debut in 1998 to 100 wins in 1999.
"He understands how to create a winning atmosphere and a winning team, and I have no doubt he'll have a lot of success in Baltimore," said former major leaguer Jay Bell, who played for Showalter in Arizona. "He's all you want as a player. All you want from a manager is somebody who will be prepared and understand the game. I never saw Buck get surprised in a baseball game."
The son of a high school principal, Showalter is known for his discipline and expertly detailed preparation, something his former players say fostered confidence.
"I think the biggest thing I noticed about Buck is how prepared he was. There were a lot of things that nobody would even think about that he found out or knew about," said Orioles starter Kevin Millwood, who played under Showalter for the Rangers in 2006. "I think, strategically, he is going to keep you in the game every time. I don't think he is ever going to lose games by making unprecedented moves."
Said current Rangers starter C.J. Wilson: "He takes the job very seriously. He is like a lawyer, where he has contingency plans for each way a game can go. That's the way we always felt about it."
With that attention to detail, however, comes criticism that Showalter is a micromanager, a control freak who wears out his welcome after instilling discipline and fundamentals.
In New York, a clash with management cost Showalter his job in 1995, and the following season the Yankees won their first of four World Series in five years. The Diamondbacks won the World Series -- beating the Yankees -- in 2001, the season after Showalter was fired in Arizona.
After not getting the Rangers out of third place in the American League West, Showalter was let go in 2006 and hasn't managed since.
"He stuck his neck out there and said we need to rebuild and that we weren't going to be competitive immediately because we needed to trade some guys," Wilson said about Showalter's departure in Texas. "From what I understand, that didn't take well. But the reality is that's what we had to do, eventually."
The Orioles see Showalter as a fit not just because the club has demonstrated a lack of discipline and an inability to grasp fundamentals, but also because of his reputation for working with inexperienced major leaguers, who make up a large chunk of the Orioles' roster.
"He's great for a young player," said Yankees first baseman and Severna Park resident Mark Teixeira, who spent his first few years in Texas with Showalter managing. "Buck understands how tough it is to play in the big leagues. He understands what young guys go through, the ups and downs, the struggles, the mental grind. And one thing he did for me is that he had faith in me through ups and downs, never switched me in the lineup, never tried to change the way I played. I had some really productive performances with Buck because he understands it's tough to play this game."
Showalter was an All-American at Mississippi State and was drafted in the fifth round by the Yankees in 1977. He spent seven seasons in the Yankees' system as a first baseman and outfielder. He even pitched in two games. A career .294 minor league hitter, he rose as high as Triple-A but never made the majors.
Showalter began his managerial career at Single-A Oneonta in 1985 and took over the fabled Yankees in 1992 at the age of 35. Being a baseball lifer, and having his share of success and failure, has given him perspective to handle all types of players, especially young ones.