There have been hundreds of players that have been able to say they played with the Baltimore Orioles. From legends like Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray to Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer, there hasn’t been a shortage of franchise greats.
There have also been some legendary players that you may have completely forgotten wore an Orioles jersey at one point, though. Here are five forgotten Orioles that made their way to the Hall of Fame.
5. Nelson Cruz
Nelson Cruz may go down as one of the most underrated players of the 21st century. After beginning his career with the Brewers, Cruz spent the bulk of his career playing with the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners from 2006 to 2018. For one year (2014) in between, though, Cruz became a member of the Baltimore Orioles after becoming a free agent.
Cruz had been under investigation for use of performance-enhancing drugs and was looking for a one-year deal with any team willing to take on the risk of having him. Cruz signed with the Orioles, making $8 million in the process. The gamble paid off for the O’s as Cruz was an All-Star in his one season and set a career-high for games played with 159. He’d finish with an impressive .271 batting average, 40 home runs, and 108 runs batted in.
4. Sammy Sosa
You don’t have to go very far down the list of career home run leaders to see Sammy Sosa’s name as he is a member of the rare 600 club, hitting 609 dingers in his career. Sosa, of course, is most known for his days as a Chicago Cub where he led the National League in home runs twice (2000 and 2002).
After more than a decade with the Cubs, the team traded the former franchise cornerstone for Jerry Hairston Jr., Mike Fontenot, and Dave Crouthers. While none of those players really panned out for the Cubs, Sosa didn’t do much for the Orioles, either. Sosa played just one season, hitting a paltry .221 with 14 home runs and 45 runs batted in before he took a year off of baseball and ended his career where it started, with the Texas Rangers.
3. Jim Thome
Another member of the 600 home run club, Jim Thome was a beloved franchise player for the Cleveland Indians from 1991 to 2002 before heading to the Phillies and White Sox for a few years. Thome became a journeyman toward the end of his career, adding stints with the Dodgers and Twins while even returning to Cleveland and Philly.
Thome ended his career with the Orioles, however. The Orioles were in line for a playoff run and wanted to acquire someone that has played in many playoff games, so they dealt for Thome for the final half of 2012. In 28 games with the O’s, Thome hit three home runs while batting .257 as the team made its way to the postseason.
2. Vladimir Guerrero
One of the most unique free-swingers in baseball, Vladimir Guerrero is a Hall of Famer that split the first 14 years of his career between the Montreal Expos and Los Angeles Angels. Before his son, Vlad Jr., made it into the league, Guerrero had one year with the Texas Rangers in 2010, and when he became a free agent, he signed with the Orioles for one year and $8 million for the 2011 season.
It would be the final season in Guerrero’s career, and he actually fared quite well at 36 years old. Guerrero had a .290 average while only missing a couple of games, but the power was mostly gone as he hit just 13 home runs at the Orioles but came up short of the playoffs.
1. Reggie Jackson
The man known as “Mr. October” thanks to his time with the New York Yankees was also known for being a mainstay of the Athletics franchise as they moved from Kansas City to Oakland. Jackson wrapped up his career with the Angels and a return to the Athletics but had a short stint between Oakland and New York when he played for the Orioles.
In 1976, Jackson played 134 games for Baltimore where he had a solid season, hitting .277 with 27 home runs and 91 runs batted in while stealing a career-high 28 bases. Jackson became a free agent after a fallout with the front office following the season, though, and signed with the Yankees.