You know you’ve all ready said that Roy was a rookie, 15 or 16 years old when he became the bat boy, but he was great. You know, he’s got a great act. He goes to Las Vegas, I’ve seen it many times; he really puts on a wonderful show. We used to get on the bus at Miami to go to Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach and Roy the bat boy would be on the bus and he’d be doing impersonations of Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell and he would crack us up for the whole time. But we had a few good times with him too, I can remember. The first game we played, exhibition game I ran into Roy in the clubhouse, I said, ‘Roy! The game’s supposed to start and the umpires want you to get the key to the batter’s box.’ And he says ‘Okay’, so I say ‘Go ask Jim Frey’ so he runs and says ‘Jim, the umpires need the key to the batter’s box’, he says ‘I don’t have it’ so he says ‘Go see so and so’. So Roy runs and says, ‘We have to have the key to the batter’s box! I don’t know where it is!’ He told us five or six times and finally he comes back to me and says, ‘No one has the key!’. I say ‘Roy, there ain’t no key to the batter’s box!’, so we had a good time with him.
Above all, I thank god for my life and for sending me an angel into my life over a half century ago. That angel has been my beautiful wife, Connie. She has stood by me with total love, devotion and endurance throughout our marriage. She has given me four wonderful children, whom she raised almost entirely by herself. And I know you three guys out there took full advantage of your mother because I wasn’t there. This has been no easy task darling, thank you so much for sticking with me. At this time I would like to introduce my four children and if you’d please stand; Brooks David, Christopher, Michael and my beautiful daughter Diana. Nine of my 10 grandchildren are here, and I’d ask them to stand up too to see how pretty they really are, stand up please. Thank you. Also I’d like to thank my brother Gary from Dallas, Texas for coming in. And some of Connie’s family who made the trip from Michigan and Canada, we really appreciate that, you helped make this a very special day.
You know I’ve been thinking about how long that I was with the Baltimore Orioles as a player and how long I’ve been in Baltimore. And as you know, the Orioles came to town in 1954, and I signed with the Orioles in 1955. I think it was John Eisenberg, a sports columnist with the Baltimore paper, maybe just freelanced around, but he wrote a book about the history of the Orioles. In reading John’s book, I found out that I’ve seen every Oriole player in the history of the Orioles. And that goes back for a lot of memories, there’s only about four or five players that I did not see in a uniform. So you see I do have a lot of wonderful memories, and most of them are sitting right out there. I had a, I was fortunate to play at the best of the times with the greatest players, All-Stars at just about every position. As I look here, Boog Powell, where are you Boog? Oh! I don’t know how I missed you! The best friend that anyone could ever have, I love you Boog. You know, here’s a guy who had 400 home runs, almost 400 home runs, would have had 500 if he played in another ballpark somewhere. But the problem is, he never won a Gold Glove. And I’m here to tell you, this guy could field. Great hands, he never let me forget it. You know, every time I’d make a bad throw to Boog he’d have to scoop it out of the dirt, well he’d come in and put a little mark on the wall. So at the end of the year he would come over and he would say ‘15 errors I saved for Brooks’, he’d come to me and say ‘Brooks, give me that golden glove, man’. Plus, he never let me forget that he had more stolen bases then me. I tell you, Boog, I looked for that signal my whole career and I never got it.
Jim Palmer, the greatest Oriole pitcher in the history, and one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. Three-time Cy Young and I’m telling you, he was 20-years old facing 30-year old Sandy Koufax back in ’66 and he got the best of Koufax, that was the nice part about it. And Paul Blair, my good friend, Paul Blair. I guess if you ask a lot of people, the consensus of the best center fielder you’ve ever seen they would come back with, ‘Oh, Willie Mays’, well I’m here to tell you Paul Blair was Willie Mays. And he could hit, too.
And of course if you want to go way back, we recalled, our first real good year where we won a lot of games, chased the Yankees right down to the wire. That was 1960 and one of the head starlets of that pitching staff was Milt Pappas from Detroit, signed with the Orioles right before, or after I did. So, Milty we’re glad to see you, won over 100 games in the American League, went to the National League and won 100, too. Then there’s my good friend Ronnie Hanson, Ronnie, where are you pal. We roomed together, I signed in ’55 he signed in ’56, we roomed together for a couple years. 1960 was the Rookie of The Year for the Orioles.
Then there’s Frank Robinson, what can I say about this guy? Someone would ask me, ‘Who are the greatest players that you’ve ever seen in the history of the game?’, and I’d say, ‘Well you’ve got Mickey Mantle, you’ve got Hank Aaron and you’ve got Willie Mays, those are the three best. They could hit, hit with power, run, field, throw’. I want to tell you something, this guy should be right with them. He is just as good as they were. Then Eddie Murray, I call him tired, t-i-r-e-d. He came in, my last year was his first year. When he came I took him under my arm and told him how to hit. And he went on and got over 500 home runs and 3,000 hits, I taught you well Eddie. Then there’s the Earl of Baltimore, I can only tell you the reason I admire this manager. Earl signed way back when, way before me. But anyway, his one dream, he grew up in St. Louis, he wanted to play for the Cardinals. Signed with the Cardinals, never made it to the major leagues. But then he decided to manage. Went back to the minor leagues, started in D, C, B, AA, AAA, big leagues and he became a great manager and got into the hall of fame. Earl, you’re too much.
Of course, you know we all had a lot of fun with Earl, and he had a lot of fun with us. I know Paul Blair and Earl, they didn’t see eye-to-eye all the time. You know we’d get late in the game and we’re ahead by one run and Earl would say, Pauly always played really shallow, he said, ‘I want you to back up, I don’t want anyone to get a double in this situation’. And Pauly, he said that many times, but this one time we’re in Milwaukee, [Earl] said, ‘Pauly, back up, I don’t want anyone to hit a ball over your head’, so we come out in the 9th inning and we looked up and Paul was leaning up against the center field fence just like this. So Earl said, ‘No, come in; no, you’re too deep!’ But we had a lot of fun, Earl you’re unbelievable, thank you.
And Cal Ripken, what do you say about Cal Ripken? I was talking to Buck Showalter here a year ago and we were talking about someone, but he said, ‘You know, that guy’s just a baseball player’ and I said, ‘Buck, I haven’t heard that term in 40 years’. But back when I was growing up, that was the term someone used all the time, “That guy’s just a baseball player”. That is Cal Ripken, he was just a baseball player. And when I think of that, great instincts, never threw to the wrong base, always knows who’s running, always in the right place for a cut off, just on and on and on. But I saw Cal grow up here at the ballpark with his dad, come and shag balls. And I said right there, that is going to be a great player. Now how does anyone play as many games consecutively as Cal Ripken? Cal, nice to you see pal, thanks for coming out.
Al Bumbry is here. Al doesn’t know this, there’s one reason I really admire Al Bumbry. Not only was here the first guy to get 200 hits in an Oriole uniform, but this is a guy who spent a year in Vietnam as a Lieutenant, and had a company, a platoon, and he spent a year over there in Vietnam leading a platoon. Came back to Baltimore and had a great career.
Rick Dempsey, don’t know if he’s still here tonight. The dipper, there he is, my man. You know, this goes back to September of ‘77, I really should have retired a couple years before that, but you know you always think you can play, I mean that’s just the way it is. But anyway, Earl Weaver came to me and he said, ‘Well, Dempsey’s got to come back on the roster and we’re going to ask you to retire’, but that’s beside the point. But anyways, I retired that day, Dempsey went in to catch. Well, he struck out three times, had a horrible day and after the game was over I came up to his locker and I said, ‘Dipper, you mean I retired for that performance?’ But he went on to have a great career with the Orioles, the MVP in the 1983 World Series.