One of the best things about Orioles fans is their loyalty. As soon as a popular Oriole leaves by trade or free agency, some fans immediately start plotting how the team can get them back.
It was that way with Nick Markakis and Tommy Hunter, too. Some fans are eager for a reunion with Jim Johnson.
The Orioles are unusual in that they seem to bring players who’ve been successful here back for encores, and they’ve done it with some regularity for the past two decades.
How about Harold Baines?
Baines, who still lives in St. Michael’s, Md., got three runs with the Orioles, from 1993-95, another in 1997-99, and a third one in 2000.
He was popular in Chicago, too. The White Sox, for whom he played most of his career, had him there for three different stints.
Two of Baines teammates, Mike Bordick and B.J. Surhoff were traded in the great Syd Thrift trading bazaar of July 2000. Baines went back to Chicago, Bordick to the Mets and Surhoff to Atlanta.
Who can forget Surhoff’s tearful goodbye? Bordick’s departure wasn’t as emotional, but he came back to Baltimore the next winter. It took Surhoff two more years, but both had happy reunions with the Orioles, and both work for the team.
Those second acts worked well. So did Eddie Murray’s. He left Baltimore acrimoniously after the 1988 season, but got a warm welcome back in 1996. He got to hit his 500th home run with the Orioles.
Some turned out disastrously. Rafael Palmeiro and Sidney Ponson both re-signed with the Orioles in 2004. By the summer of 2005, their Orioles careers ended shamefully.
Another polarizing figure, Miguel Tejada, was twice with the Orioles, and nearly a third. After Tejada was traded to Houston after the 2007 season, he came back for a few months in 2010 only to be traded to San Diego just before Buck Showalter took over.
Tejada played for Norfolk in 2012 in an attempt to return to the big leagues, but that didn’t work out.
Jeff Conine, who played with Baines, Bordick, Surhoff and Tejada, had two turns with the Orioles, too. Conine was one of the most interesting people to play with the Orioles over the last 20 years. He was a world-class table tennis player, had a brilliant sense of humor and was a kind and generous man.
Unfortunately in his six seasons with the Orioles, the team lost every year. He did get to play for the Florida Marlins’ World Series championship teams in 1997 and 2003, and is referred to as “Mr. Marlin.”
Conine also had repeat engagements with both Florida and Kansas City.
Other Orioles had unremarkable second acts in Baltimore. Did you remember that Bill Ripken returned in 1996?
Others who’ve come back include Alan Mills, Corey Patterson, Joe Saunders and Gregg Zaun. Saunders, who won the 2012 Wild-Card game in Texas, tried to re-invent himself as a left-handed reliever in 2014, but he’s now out of baseball. Zaun was Matt Wieters’ predecessor as starting catcher in 2009.
Of course, Nolan Reimold is currently in his second time around with the Orioles.
It isn’t just players who come back to Baltimore for more. Terry Crowley, who was hitting coach under 11 different managers, Ray Miller and Cal Ripken, Sr., had multiple terms with the team.
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