Merv Rettenmund Ponders Pinch-hitting

Posted November 26th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Baltimore Orioles, Billy DeMars, Jim Frey, Merv Rettenmund,
“Hitting? Glad you asked!”

Merv Rettenmund always hustled. He’s still hustling today at

Most remember him as the scrappy Baltimore outfielder, someone who might hit .300 in his sleep.

He credits Orioles coaches Jim Frey and Billy DeMars with hitting wisdom that inspired him to become a coach, too.

Collectors know “The Hit Man” as a willing signer, although someone who tired of squeezing every letter into each autograph.

By the way, I smiled at the compact facsimile autograph on the 1971 Topps.  For years, I’ve seen Rettenmund take two lines to sign cards, stacking his first name atop his long last name.

I asked him about the twilight of his career, when he led the National League with 21 pinch-hits in 1977.

How did he do it? Rettenmund replied with a surprising breakdown of the art:

“Pinch-hitting is simple:

1. A lot of at-bats in spring (training)
2. Hit breaking ball and fastball until All-Star break
3. After All-Star break, only swing at fastballs

Also play on a really bad team, where you lost every night, so you get one at-bat a night. It helps maintain your timing. I actually enjoyed pinch-hitting.”

Unraveling The Mystery of Oriole Jim Frey

Posted October 30th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Baltimore Orioles, Jim Frey,

I’ve had the image in my head for more than 30 years.

I’m outside Metropolitan Stadium, ready for the Orioles to arrive. Sharpie in hand, I’m ready for autographs.

A few, like Jim Palmer, come alone by cab. Well-dressed guys heading into The Met.

Then, I see a car pull up near the visitors entrance. A convertible. The passenger is wearing an Orioles uniform. It’s coach Jim Frey.

True story. Unfortunately, I know only the story’s beginning.

I see on that Frey’s signed 138 of 145 fan mail requests. I’m not wanting autographed cards. I just want to know where the O’s coach went in uniform. Think he’ll tell? It’s worth a two-stamp gamble.