BALTIMORE — Not only did the Orioles move back to the .500 mark with their fifth straight win on Friday, but the 11-3 win over the New York Yankees brought a career milestone for Buck Showalter.
The 59-year-old climbed into a tie for third place with Hank Bauer on the Orioles’ all-time managerial wins list with 407 as Showalter is in the midst of his sixth season in Baltimore. To no surprise, Showalter was more interested in talking about his players’ accomplishments against the Yankees rather than the latest addition to his career résumé.
“It means I’ve been here a long time,” Showalter said. “Obviously, the cliché-est thing is that you’ve got a lot of good players that have allowed you to be here. And your timing was real good. To see a situation that’s gotten better, I guarantee you can find a lot of people — you’ve heard me says this — who took some bullets before you got here to get it right.”
A three-time American League Manager of the Year, Showalter only trails Earl Weaver (1,480) and Paul Richards (517) on Baltimore’s career wins list. Earlier this week, he passed Charlie Grimm for 33rd on the all-time major league wins list and now owns 1,289 victories in his 17 seasons as a manager.
He is currently scheduled to manage his 2,500th game in the majors on July 5 in Chicago.
Showalter said he got to know Bauer, the manager of the 1966 World Series champions and a longtime New York Yankees outfielder, from his days managing the Yankees in the early 1990s. Bauer was hired to manage the Orioles in 1964 and lasted until 1968 when he was replaced by Weaver in the middle of the season. Bauer passed away at age 84 in 2007.
“He was pretty special,” Showalter said. “He always treated everybody the same. Very easy to talk to. You could tell how much he loved baseball. He loved talking about our team. He was on top of everything.”
Those words about Bauer could be used to describe the current Orioles manager whose attention to detail sets him apart from many others throughout the game. Earlier Friday, Showalter spent several minutes opining about the need for standardized warning tracks, citing different surfaces and varying distances from the start of the track to the outfield wall that are used in different ballparks.
It’s a mundane topic many managers have probably never considered, but Showalter is always looking for the next way to improve the game or to give his club an edge. In 2013, the warning track at Camden Yards was changed from a rubberized surface to a natural surface of crushed stone that was considered much safer for outfielders.
In reflecting on his time with the Orioles, Showalter is right in saying many others have had a part in turning fortunes around after 14 straight years of losing, but no one has meant more to changing the culture of the organization since he arrived in the second half of the 2010 season.
“My timing was good. I pinch myself every day I get a chance to do this. That won’t change,” Showalter said. “Whether it was Dave Trembley or Andy MacPhail, Dan [Duquette] and I both understand how fortunate we were to reap the benefits of some things that they did. Now, we’ve just got to keep it going.”
The timing of his arrival couldn’t have been better for the Orioles, either.