The Orioles continued their postseason harvest yesterday when pitcher Mike Mussina and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro were named recipients of the Gold Glove Award given to nine players in each league for defensive excellence.
The award was Mussina's second straight and Palmeiro's first. This year marks the second season in a row -- but only the second time since 1978 -- that the Orioles have won more than one award. Last year, Mussina and second baseman Roberto Alomar were named.
The Gold Glove Awards are presented by Rawlings in conjunction with The Sporting News, which polls managers and coaches from both leagues to determine winners. Mussina won his first Gold Glove last year, the first Orioles pitcher so honored since Jim Palmer in 1979. Likewise, he is the first Orioles pitcher to win the honor in consecutive years since Palmer's four straight from 1976 to '79.
Mussina enjoyed a flawless defensive season, handling 43 chances in 33 games, and enhanced his reputation as one of the most athletic pitchers in either league. He was the staff's only full-time starting pitcher not to commit an error. It was the second consecutive year Mussina did not make an error. He handled 48 chances in 36 games in 1996.
Palmeiro has long been regarded as one of the best at his position, and Baseball America rated him his league's best defensive first baseman last spring.
"It means a lot," Palmeiro said of the Gold Glove. "This is something I've been working toward ever since I became a first baseman. This probably means as much to me as any recognition I've received before."
Palmeiro converted from the outfield to first base while with the Texas Rangers in 1989. Known more for a bat that has produced 116 home runs the past three seasons, he ranked fifth in the league with a .993 fielding percentage, committing 10 errors in 1,427 chances, two more errors than he had in 1996 in 83 fewer chances. Palmeiro began this season by going longer without an error than any other everyday American League position player.
"I think this is probably as good a year defensively that I've had," he said. "I was more aggressive. I know that I may have made fewer errors last year, but I feel I helped the other infielders more this season."
Orioles outfielder Eric Davis praised both Palmeiro and Mussina.
"Time after time, people talk about Raffy's offensive performance and don't recognize him for the complete player that he is," Davis said. "And what can you say about Moose? He's fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game. I look at him as a great baseball player who just happens to be a pitcher."
The Gold Gloves for Palmeiro and Mussina came on the same day Davis won the Roberto Clemente Award. Earlier this week, Orioles manager Davey Johnson was named AL Manager of the Year by The Sporting News.
Since the Gold Gloves' inception in 1957, only the St. Louis Cardinals (57 1/2 ) have won more than the Orioles' 54, with 16 belonging to Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.
Seattle Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey and Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux won their eighth straight Gold Gloves, San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds won his seventh overall, and Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez won his sixth straight.
Griffey's eight Gold Gloves ties him with former Orioles Paul Blair and Dwight Evans for second-most among AL outfielders, trailing only Baltimore native Al Kaline's 10.
A look at the 1997 Gold Glove winners and the number of times they have won the award:
Pos. .. .. ..Player, Team
P .. .. .. ..Mike Mussina, O's (2nd)
C .. .. .. ..Ivan Rodriguez, Tex. (6th)
1B .. .. .. .Rafael Palmeiro, O's (1st)
2B .. .. .. .Chuck Knoblauch, Min. (1st)
SS .. .. .. .Omar Vizquel, Cle. (5th)
3B .. .. .. .Matt Williams, Cle. (4th)
OF .. .. .. .Jim Edmonds, Ana. (1st)
OF .. .. .. .Bernie Williams, N.Y. (1st)
OF .. .. .. .Ken Griffey, Sea. (8th)
P .. .. .. ..Greg Maddux, Atl. (8th)
C .. .. .. ..Charles Johnson, Fla. (3rd)
1B .. .. .. .J. T. Snow, S.F. (3rd)
2B .. .. .. .Craig Biggio, Hou. (4th)
SS .. .. .. .Rey Ordonez, N.Y. (1st)
3B .. .. .. .Ken Caminiti, S.D. (3rd)
OF .. .. .. .Barry Bonds, S.F. (7th)
OF .. .. .. .Raul Mondesi, L.A. (2nd)
OF .. .. .. .Larry Walker, Col. (3rd)
Pub Date: 10/23/97