Reimer draws attention with his bat and his glove; another former “O” visits the Yard
Boxscore: May 5, 1992
Hitter: Kevin Reimer.
Pitcher: Jose Mesa.
Distance: 403 feet.
When it happened: Top of the second, nobody on, one out.
Final score: Rangers 5 – Orioles 3.
The second Eutaw Street home run in Camden Yards history was but a footnote in the game’s retelling: “The Rangers hit three home runs, including one by Kevin Reimer that missed hitting the warehouse in right field by 28 feet, 8 inches.” It was Reimer’s glove rather than his bat that attracted the most attention during a rain-delayed match-up between the Orioles and Rangers on May 5, 1992.
During a three-run first inning for the Birds, 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound designated hitter Sam Horn drove a sharp opposite-field hit toward Reimer in left field. After briefly snaring the drive on the run, Reimer fell to the soggy turf and lost the ball, allowing Horn, in his 879th Major League at-bat, to record his first and only triple.
“I thought it was over his head and that I’d trot into second,” said Horn to The Washington Times.”But after I saw what happened, I said, ‘There’s no reason I shouldn’t take third.’ I turned the corner and daylight was there.”
In a game full of intriguing storylines, one of the most prominent tales, aside from Horn’s jaunt around three-quarters of the diamond, was that of former Oriole Jeff Robinson. Robinson worked five scoreless innings in long relief of Nolan Ryan to earn the win, giving up two hits, three walks, and striking out none in front of a frustrated home crowd that booed the 30-year-old hurler, whom the club had released during the winter.
Robinson pitched just one season for the O’s after the team acquired him in an off-season trade that sent Mickey Tettleton to Detroit prior to the 1991 season. (Tettleton hit the first-ever Eutaw Street home run on April 20, 1992.) Robinson was 4-9 with a 5.18 ERA for the Birds in 1991, a performance poor enough to frustrate any hopeful fan; however, it was more Robinson’s attitude that drew jeers from the faithful in 1992. After being demoted to the minors on July 30, 1991, along with Jeff Ballard – a move that cleared room on the roster for 22-year-old Mike Mussina, the team’s No. 1 pick in the June 1990 draft and future ace – the frustrated hurler attacked the proud organization that wrote his checks.
“They said they’d do everything they could to trade me because they realize I don’t want to come back,” Robinson said to The Washington Post following his demotion. “It’s all the same to me: Baltimore, Rochester. They’re both Triple A, as far as the way players are treated.
“I have no hard feelings toward Johnny, but the organization itself. . . . Like I told [Oates on Monday], I’d be willing to bet my contract for the next three years that this team is not going to be a contender unless they make drastic changes, and I don’t mean just the players.”
One year later, following the early season win with his new team, Robinson was a bit more diplomatic about his former employer.
“I have no hard feelings toward the people in [an Orioles] uniform,” said Robinson after the May 1992 contest. “. . . It was an unpleasant experience [playing for Baltimore], and I didn’t pitch very well either. . . . It’s not like it makes me feel any better to do it against the Orioles. The bottom line is, I just didn’t do the job they expected me to do.”
Robinson picked up one more win with the Rangers in 1992 before the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him off of waivers on June 10. After posting a combined 7-5 record with the two teams, he never again pitched in the major leagues.
Three years after Robinson’s surly prediction about the O’s, a strike-shortened 1994 season kept either party from answering the criticism. At the time of the strike the Orioles held a record of 63-49, good for second place in the A.L. East, 6.5 games behind the New York Yankees. The team sat 2.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians in what would have been the first-ever Wild Card race.