Former Orioles pitchers speak at Hagerstown Church Softball banquet

June 11, 2012|By WILL ROBINSON | Staff Correspondent

HAGERSTOWN — Former Baltimore Orioles standout pitcher Scott McGregor returned to speak at the Hagerstown Area Church Softball League’s annual banquet Monday night at Hager Hall.

McGregor, who has attended the banquet several times in recent years, brought along former Orioles reliever and 1983 World Series teammate Tippy Martinez to speak as well.

The pair spoke about their exploits growing up together in the New York Yankees organization and how they were traded to the Orioles together on June 15, 1976.

They reminisced about their Orioles playing days — in particular, when Martinez picked off three baserunners at first base in the same inning on Aug. 24, 1983 — and also how they happened to find God together.

“I’d be shagging fly balls in the outfield and I’d look at the clouds,” said Martinez, who went 55-42 with 115 saves and a 3.45 ERA in his career. “I’d point the clouds out to my teammates and talk about how beautiful they were. They were probably looking at me like I was on drugs or something, but that’s what happens when you get saved. You start noticing things around you.”

In his early big-league days, McGregor, who grew up in El Segundo, Calif., said he used to be too concerned about what the folks back home thought of his play.

“I was so hard on myself when I pitched. I would always think about who’s watching back in El Segundo — my friends, my parents, my coaches — and if I was pitching up to their expectations,” McGregor said. “But around June 1979 I was saved. I gave my heart to God, and it calmed me down. It made me realize that I could reach out to him when I needed help.”

The Orioles have jumped out to one of their best starts in years, sitting at 34-26 with a team-record nine straight wins in extra innings. Both McGregor and Martinez attribute that success to a new-found confidence in the ballclub.

“It used to be Murphy’s Law with this team. Whatever bad could happen did happen, and then the players would get down on themselves,” said McGregor, who is the pitching coach for the Aberdeen IronBirds, an Orioles Single-A affiliate. “Now they have this idea that no matter what, they’re going to win.

“That’s the attitude we had when Tippy and I played. We’d be down by five runs and we’d look at the other team like, ‘What the hell do you think you’re going to do to us now?’ We still knew we’d win. That’s what it takes — who can keep playing and who can get that momentum. We’re starting to see that evolution.”

“I think if anything it’s that (Orioles manager Buck Showalter) is getting the guys to believe in themselves, to keep the game close and let the chips fall where they may,” Martinez said. “You can’t win them all, but if you keep the game close, you give yourself a better chance to win. I believe that they’re believing in themselves, the fans are believing as well, and in turn, it permeates throughout.”

Former New York Giants running back Keith Elias also spoke at the event.

The Williamsport Wildcats baseball team, which won the Class 2A state title this year, was honored at the banquet along with coach David Warrenfeltz and fallen teammate Brendon Colliflower.

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