And yet, Cal Ripken Jr. notwithstanding, these potential pieces of history are almost entirely anonymous. There are nine members of Baltimore's new ownership group who are better known than their team's starting lineup. On Aug. 2 the Orioles were sold at auction for a team-sports-record $173 million—sold to a man who was merely scratching his nose! No, no, in truth, Baltimore was purchased by a group, headed by Baltimore attorney Peter Angelos, which includes such Maryland luminaries as film director Barry Levinson, whose credits include the aforementioned Diner; tennis star Pam Shriver; and novelist Tom Clancy. Larry King is reportedly interested in investing, as well. When manager Johnny Oates phones the bullpen, Oriole relievers will forever have to answer, "Is the caller there?"
Right now, those relief pitchers would be Alan Mills, Jim Poole and Todd Frohwirth, who have eased the loss—possibly for the season—of closer Gregg Olson, who has been missing since Aug. 9 with a strained right elbow. Do you know me? At week's end Poole had the league's lowest batting-average-against (.164) among relievers. Mills had had a 1.80 ERA during the Oriole run. And Frohwirth had thrown in more games (63) than all but three American League pitchers this season. Still Frohwirth, who was born and raised, and resides, in Milwaukee, has not yet supplanted a certain brew as the reason for that city's fame.
Likewise, King's suspenders are more recognizable than Baltimore lefthander Jamie Moyer. Overshadowed by his alliterative moundmates, Mike Mussina (14-5) and Ben McDonald (12-11), Moyer is the man most symbolic of these Orioles' farfetched resurrection. Moyer, who hadn't played in the big leagues since 1991 and hadn't won in the big leagues since '90, began this season at Rochester and lost his first three starts with Baltimore after being promoted on May 19. But from June 10 through his victorious start against the A's on Sunday, Moyer—who gave up just two runs on seven hits, struck out seven and didn't walk a batter in eight innings of the 14-5 romp over Oakland—had gone 12-3 with a 3.33 ERA while making more friends than MCI.
"Everyone here is so nice," says Moyer, a 30-year-old veteran of four teams. "It's a beautiful park. It's a great place to bring your family. Everything is so positive. The security people are nice. When you bump into workers in the tunnel, they're nice. The p.r. people are nice. I know it sounds like I'm tooting everybody's horn, but it's true."
Moyer is not even the best-known branch on his family tree (his father-in-law is former Notre Dame basketball coach Phelps). The same goes for Segui, whose father, Diego, pitched for 15 years in the major leagues. David, 27, was hitting .290 at week's end. Is there a reason he was hitting 57 points higher than his average of last season? "Yes, there's a reason," he says. "I never played before. I sat on the bench last year. It's easier to put up the numbers when you play. It isn't, when you don't play."
Oriole rightfielder Mark McLemore, likewise, had not played in California, Cleveland and Houston before coming to Baltimore last year. Where once he walked the Mendoza line like a Wallenda—coming into this season, he had a .229 lifetime average over parts of seven seasons—McLemore is now playing every day and was hitting .289 through Sunday.
For the stretch run Toronto and New York added standouts everybody knows—leftfielder Rickey Henderson and closer Lee Smith, respectively. And while the Orioles picked up third baseman Mike Pagliarulo (.318, five home runs and 16 RBIs in 18 games with Baltimore) and reserve outfielder Lonnie Smith (who has played in five World Series but was not acquired in time to be eligible for this year's playoffs), earlier in the season they had added an entire roster of players in Voigt. He has stood out by standing in—as a pinch hitter, as a pinch runner, as a DH, as a leftfielder, as a rightfielder, as a first baseman, as a third baseman. "I will be back," Voigt said when Oates optioned him to Triple A in spring training. Oates smiled avuncularly, but Voigt repeated, somewhat Schwarzenegger-like, "No. I will be back."
Voigt was back within a month and since then had hit .297, had homered five times, had earned the nickname Hobbsie (as in The Natural) and had consumed nearly 800 Coca-Colas (at the rate of seven per game). Voigt drinks his Cokes from an Albany Polecat souvenir cup, which his teammates secretly befoul with gum and seed shells several times a game. "The Cokes are cold and satisfying, and they keep me up," says Voigt. "If you put that in there, maybe they'll send me some."
That would double the number of endorsement deals for Oriole players—Ripken is a spokesman for milk, which cannot speak for itself. Designated hitter Harold Baines, second baseman Harold Reynolds, centerfielder Mike Devereaux and leftfielder Brady Anderson all keep a low national profile. NASA could lose a space probe searching for these stars.
As if it matters. "As far as the pennant race goes," says Hoiles, "I think we're sittin' real good." On Sept. 24 the Detroit Tigers will come to Crabtown. They have not won a game in Baltimore in two years. On Sept. 27 it's the Yankees. On Sept. 30, the Blue Jays.