photo from camdenchat.com: Former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer winds up to throw a pitch in 1966 is interviewed by Amaury Pi-Gonzalez.
By: Amaury Pi-González
Through the years, I always look forward in talking with Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, who’s currently on Baltimore Orioles television as a color announcer with play-by-play man Gary Thorne. On the visit this season by the Orioles to the Oakland Coliseum this past June, I had the chance of talking again with Palmer. Sometimes, we chatted at Oakland, other times at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
He is not shy and always wants to talk baseball, even thought a generation of fans saw him a lot on television as a model for Jockey Underwear. A lot of non-baseball fans recognize him more for that. Not the first time this happened in advertising and baseball, another great Hall of Fame player, The Yankee Clipper (Joe DiMaggio) was introduced to a non-baseball audience generation as a pitch man for Mister Coffee, a very popular coffee maker.
The Orioles were my número uno team since I arrived to the US as a young kid in Miami. One of my first jobs was as ball boy and bat boy for the O’s when they had their Spring Training home at Miami Stadium. I remember all the players then like John “Boog” Powell, Davey Johnson, and many more under manager Billy Hitchcock. Those years Miami did not have any MLB, NFL, NBA, or NHL teams so the biggest attraction was the O’s in Spring Training aside from the University of Miami Hurricanes football team.
Jim Palmer is a special guy. A great career that took him to the Hall of Fame, Palmer pitched for 19 seasons from 1965-1984, which ended with 268 wins and 152 loses and an ERA of 2.86. In four of the 19 seasons he won over 20 games in a row from 1970 to 1973.
He was part of a record that will probably will never be broken. In 1971 with the O’s, he was one of four starters on that staff to win 20 or more games. They were Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson, and Jim Palmer. Palmer is the only living pitcher amongst the four.
Q: “Will we ever see that again, four pitchers on the same team with 20 wins?”
JP: “Probably not, and Pat Dobson is the one most people forget when that question is asked.”
Q: “You have a unique statistic during your great career. Pitched for 19 years and never gave up a Grand Slam, how come?”
JP: “That’s easy, I usually walk the guy.”
Q: “Your memories of this Oakland Coliseum?”
JP: “I always did well here,this is a typical pitchers ballpark, I always enjoyed this place” Ironically his best outing against the A’s was not at Oakland. On August 13,1969, Palmer no-hit the A’s for an 8-0 win at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. He walked six A’s, struck out eight and was 11-2 at that time. He would win five games and lose two to finish with a 16-4 record and a 2.34 ERA.”
Since the O’s visit Oakland just once per year, he promised we will talk more and I am looking forward for the next time Jim Palmer comes to town.
During batting practice, an hour prior to the game that night, rap music was played very loud at the Coliseum, he rolled his eyes and I asked him, “Are you a fan of rap music?”
JP: “No, not really.”
I told him “Don’t feel bad, I am still listening to Sinatra.”
Amaury Pi-Gonzalez does A’s baseball Espanol for KIQI 1010 San Francisco and does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com