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Orioles to unveil statues of six Hall of Famers in 2012

Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Weaver, Palmer, Murray and Ripken to be honored with monuments at Camden Yards

By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

11:03 PM EST, November 16, 2011

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As part of their 20th anniversary at Camden Yards, the Orioles in 2012 will unveil six statues of the modern franchise's Hall of Famers in a revamped area beyond the bullpens in left-center field.

Each of the six men who have gone into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as an Oriole — Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr. — will be honored with his own free-standing bronze statue.

All six have been involved in the process, which has been ongoing for more than a year.

The Orioles are not planning to officially announce the new monuments for a few more weeks, but a club source confirmed the plans.

It has not been revealed whether the six will be unveiled simultaneously or at separate ceremonies throughout next season. The Orioles used the same sculptor for all six statues, which all will be located together in a reconfigured picnic area beyond left-center field.

The Orioles first alluded to a tribute for the Hall of Famers last month, when a statue featuring Brooks Robinson was dedicated just outside of the park. The team did not sponsor that statue, located at Washington Boulevard Plaza between Washington Boulevard and Russell Street, directly across from the northwest side of Oriole Park.

The 9-foot-tall bronze statue, which depicts Robinson preparing to throw out a runner at first base, was conceived by Baltimore businessman Henry A. Rosenberg, a longtime acquaintance of Robinson's, and presented to the city by the Dorothy L. and Henry A. Rosenberg Jr. Foundation and the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation.

Robinson played 23 seasons with the Orioles, winning 16 consecutive Gold Gloves at third base. He was the 1964 American League Most Valuable Player and 1970 World Series MVP.

After arriving in Baltimore via an offseason trade that sent Milt Pappas and two others to the Cincinnati Reds, Frank Robinson played for the Orioles from 1966 to 1971. Robinson, who was named to the AL All-Star team in five of his six seasons with the Orioles, was the AL MVP in 1966, the year the team won the first of its three World Series championships. That year, he batted .316, hit 49 homers, drove in 122 runs and scored 122.

Weaver took over the Orioles from Hank Bauer in the second half of the 1968 season and managed the team through 1982, before taking the reins again for most of the 1985 season and all of 1986. He had a 1,480-1,060 record (.583 winning percentage) at the helm of the Orioles, guiding them to a World Series title in 1970 and AL pennants in 1969, 1971 and 1979.

Palmer pitched his entire 19-season career, which spanned three decades, with the Orioles. He made his major league debut as a 19-year-old in 1965 and went on to win Cy Young Awards in 1973, 1975 and 1976. He was named to six All-Star Games, starting four of them, and also captured Gold Gloves from 1976 to 1979. The right-hander went 268-152 (.638 winning percentage) in his career and pitched 211 complete games and 53 shutouts, including 10 in 1975.

Murray got his start with the Orioles in 1977, when he was named AL Rookie of the Year. He averaged 28 home runs through 1988 before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Juan Bell and two other players before the 1989 season. The switch-hitting slugger returned to the Orioles in 1996, when the team sent Kent Mercker to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for him. He hit his 500th career home run at Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 1996, and went on to coach with the Orioles from 1998 to 2001.

Ripken won a Rookie of the Year, two MVPs — including in 1983, the year of the team's last World Series championship — one All-Star Game MVP and two Gold Gloves during an Orioles career that spanned 21 seasons. The Havre de Grace native was named to 19 consecutive All-Star Games and played the last of his record 2,632 consecutive games on Sept. 19, 1998, at Camden Yards. He retired after the 2001 season, having played 3,001 games as an Oriole.

The Orioles already have retired the numbers of the six Hall of Famers, and those numbers are on display on the grounds of the park. The statues, however, will be a much larger tribute.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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