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By Mike Klingaman, The Baltimore Sun

Call them flakes, misfits or screwballs. They are athletes whose offbeat antics mystify teammates and fascinate fans — and Baltimore has been blessed with its share.

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The Baltimore Sun is counting down The Daffy Dozen, the 12 most memorable characters in the city's sports lore. Drawn from three centuries, they include zanies such as the Orioles' John Lowenstein, whose skewed logic and left-handed persona captivated crowds, and the Colts' Alex Hawkins, whose night-owl shenanigans surpassed anything he accomplished in football.

For four years in Baltimore, Moe Drabowsky conjured up the high jinks that duped teammates and opponents alike. He's No. 1 on The Baltimore Sun's list of The Daffy Dozen.

Playful and offbeat, outfielder Jackie Brandt drove the Orioles nuts for six years. He's No. 2 on The Baltimore Sun's list of The Daffy Dozen, Charm City's most memorable sports characters.

Characters peppered the 19th century Orioles. Outfielder Joe Kelley, a fancy Dan, hid a vanity mirror inside his cap. Third baseman John McGraw spewed tobacco juice in umpires' faces and ground his spikes into their shoes. Shortstop Hughie Jennings leaned into pitches deliberately to get hit in the head, which he did at a then-record pace. But their antics paled beside those of Walter Scott "Steve" Brodie.

For seven years, he kept the Orioles winning, the crowds happy and the media scratching their heads. Signed for the $20,000 waiver price from the Texas Rangers, John Lowenstein brought left-handed power and a role-playing persona, plus a cockeyed look at baseball — and life.

He was the Houdini of football, though not because of his moves on the field. No NFL player ever evaded more bed checks or accrued more fines than the elusive Alex Hawkins. He's No. 5 of The Baltimore Sun's Daffy Dozen, the most memorable characters in Charm City sports history.

Orioles catcher Clint Courtney struggled to catch pop-ups and once apparently forgot how to throw the ball back to the pitcher. That, combined with an affinity for livestock, makes him No. 6 of The Baltimore Sun's Daffy Dozen.

Joe Don Looney spent just one season with the Baltimore Colts, but he provided plenty of entertainment. He's No. 7 on The Baltimore Sun's Daffy Dozen, the most memorable characters to play sports in Charm City.

He had Harpo Marx hair, kept a stuffed gorilla atop his locker and uncorked a harrowing scream before each game. "Stan The Man Unusual," teammate Mike Flanagan called him, so Don Stanhouse had T-shirts made with that moniker and a likeness of himself sticking out his tongue.

Teammates called him "Crazy Horse" but marveled at the tireless left-hander who, four times, won 20 or more games. Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar is No. 9 on The Baltimore Sun's list of The Daffy Dozen, the 12 most colorful characters in Baltimore sports history.

Right-hander Billy Loes pitched for the Orioles from 1956 to 1959. Before that, in four full years in Brooklyn, Loes pitched in three World Series, defeating the New York Yankees in Game 4 of the 1953 fall classic. But he also made headlines by claiming he'd rather not win 20 games "because they'll expect you to do it every year."

Good vibrations -- that's what the Bullets had when they selected him No. 1, the ninth pick in the NBA draft. Stan Love, a forward, was skinny but rugged, a 6-foot-9 shooter who'd starred for Oregon after growing up in suburban Los Angeles. What the Bullets got from 1971 to 1973 was a carefree, blond surfing dude with Beach Boy genes

The Baltimore Sun is counting down The Daffy Dozen, the 12 most memorable characters in the city's sports lore. No. 12 is former Orioles first baseman-designated hitter Kevin Millar.

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