Call them flakes, misfits or screwballs. They are athletes whose offbeat antics mystify teammates and fascinate fans and, over three centuries, Baltimore has been blessed with its share. The Baltimore Sun is counting down The Daffy Dozen, the 12 most memorable characters in the city's sports lore. Today's oddball, No. 2, is Orioles outfielder Jackie Brandt, who played for the team from 1960-1965.
In 1997, a visitor to Camden Yards sidled up to Boog Powell's barbecue stand, tapped the owner's shoulder and asked, "Pardon me, sir, but can you spare a poor man a sandwich?"
Then Jackie Brandt kissed his old teammate square on the lips.
The player the Orioles called "Moonman" hadn't changed.
Playful and offbeat, Brandt drove the Orioles nuts for six years. After hitting a home run, he might run the bases backward, or slide into every one. Once, caught in a rundown, he did a back flip on the base paths to avoid the tag. Defensively, while relaying the ball to the infield, he sometimes looked one way and threw another.
"The most consistent thing about me is my inconsistency," he said.
Team officials bore the brunt of his maddening logic. When Brandt struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to end a game, manager Paul Richards sought him out.
"What pitch were you guessing, fastball or curve?" Richards asked.
"Neither," Brandt said. "I was guessing ball."
His outfield play was erratic. Brandt's response? When he turned on the jets, he said, "my eyeballs jump up and down."
The Orioles shook their heads.
"I asked him how he managed to misplay a fly," manager Hank Bauer once said. "He said, 'I lost it in the jetstream.'"
Brandt said things like:
"This year I'm going to play with harder nonchalance."
"It's hard to tell how you're playing when you can't see yourself."
"I'm trying to make myself think I'm trying harder. When you bust a gut and make things look easy, it's hard to do the same things and make them look hard."
Told he'd said something goofy, Brandt had a comeback.
Baltimore Orioles Insider
"I said that?" he mused. "My lips must have been sunburned."
Brandt had "his own way of doing things," said Powell, then an Orioles slugger. "He had a pair of alligator shoes and, at a team party, decided to take them for a swim. He just walked into the pool, then out, and continued the evening like nothing had happened."
One September, general manager Lee MacPhail passed Brandt as he was cleaning out his locker.
"Have a good winter, Jack," MacPhail said.
"I always have good winters," Brandt replied. "It's the summers that give me trouble."