A striking element of American history is found in the iconic sculpture of Mount Rushmore. Just as this national monument honors four of the nation’s greatest presidents, we thought it fitting to etch a hypothetical Mount Rushmore of the Baltimore Orioles, one of Major League Baseball’s enduring franchises.
Selecting the four greatest Orioles is no small task, considering the rich history the franchise boasts. However, after careful consideration, the picks fall to Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, and Jim Palmer. Here’s why these four made the cut.
#1 – Cal Ripken Jr.
Known as the “Iron Man” of baseball, Cal Ripken Jr. is the face of the Orioles franchise. The 19-time All-Star and two-time American League (AL) MVP played his entire career with the Orioles from 1981 to 2001. However, what immortalizes Ripken in baseball lore is his record-breaking 2,632 consecutive games played, shattering the previous record set by Lou Gehrig. Ripken’s durability, consistency, and unwavering commitment to the team underscore his position in the Orioles’ Mount Rushmore.
#2 – Brooks Robinson
No other player epitomized defense in the “hot corner” quite like Brooks Robinson. The 18-time All-Star spent his entire 23-season career with the Orioles, winning 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards – an MLB record for a position player. Known for his exceptional fielding skills and quick reflexes, Robinson also contributed significantly to the team’s offense, earning him the 1964 AL MVP title. His key role in guiding the Orioles to two World Series championships (1966 and 1970) seals his place on this monument.
#3 – Frank Robinson
Frank Robinson, an outfielder and first baseman, played six seasons with the Orioles (1966-1971) and significantly impacted the team’s golden era. As the only player to have won the MVP in both the National League and the American League, Robinson was a force to be reckoned with. He was named the World Series MVP in 1966, the same year he claimed the Triple Crown, leading the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. This feat helped the Orioles to their first-ever World Series championship. His leadership and exceptional performance further elevated the team’s stature, making him a deserving addition to the Orioles’ Mount Rushmore.
#4 – Jim Palmer
Arguably the greatest pitcher in Orioles history, Jim Palmer had an illustrious career spanning 19 seasons, all with Baltimore. The right-handed hurler earned three Cy Young Awards and was an integral part of three Orioles’ World Series championship teams (1966, 1970, and 1983). Palmer, known for his exceptional control and strategic pitching, amassed 268 career wins, the most in Orioles history. His stellar career on the mound makes him a clear choice for the Orioles’ Mount Rushmore.
The most significant omission becomes Eddie Murray, a steadfast first baseman and designated hitter. Murray was a cornerstone of the Orioles’ lineup throughout the late 1970s and ’80s, contributing significantly to the Orioles’ last World Series championship in 1983. His consistent high-level performance throughout his career made him one of the most respected figures in the Orioles’ history.
Potential Future Additions
Among the current roster of Orioles, center fielder Cedric Mullins stands out as a player to watch. Mullins recently had a breakout season, showcasing a blend of speed, power, and defensive prowess that brings a spark to the Orioles’ lineup. With continued growth and consistency, he could find himself carving out a place in the history of this storied franchise.
While Mount Rushmore stands as an immutable testament to American history, the annals of baseball and the Orioles are continuously being written. We celebrate the Orioles’ legends today — Ripken, B. Robinson, Palmer, and F. Robinson — while we eagerly anticipate the promising talents that may eventually join their ranks. For now, these four stand as the greatest Orioles, their outstanding contributions forever etched in the history of this esteemed franchise.