Willie Randolph: I'm an Oriole now
New Orioles bench coach Willie Randolph gets it.
He played for six teams in an 18-season career, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and ending with the New York Mets.
He managed the Mets for four seasons. And he most recently was with the Milwaukee Brewers, spending two years there as a bench coach.
Yet in these parts, he’ll always be primarily associated with the enemy. Randolph is a Yankee first in Baltimore’s collective memory. He was a key cog in those great late-1970s/early-1980s teams that were always battling with the Orioles for supremacy.
Randolph was a spark plug, a fast, shifty, no-nonsense second baseman that seemed to always be on base in the mind’s eye of the Orioles fan. The stats back that up. Randolph played in 160 career games against the Orioles -- practically a full season -- and hit .272 with a .391 on-base percentage and 93 runs in those AL East contests.
Randolph understands perceptions don’t die easily. But he promises his new fan base that he’s not a Yankee now. Or a Met. Or even a Brewer.
“I appreciated my time in New York. I am a New Yorker ... but that’s not what defines me as a person,” said Randolph, who lives in New Jersey. “I have tremendous respect for [the Orioles]. I remember back in the day you couldn’t get a ticket there. It was one of the most exciting places for me, and I hope to be a part of rekindling that excitement. When I put on that uniform, I will be part of them. And [the fans] can be assured of that.”
He was asked how he thought the fans would react to him the first time he is announced at Camden Yards in black and orange and not pinstripes.
And this is what he said: “I don’t know how I will be received, but hopefully warmly. I love Baltimore. My family loves Baltimore. ... And they played a big part in my decision. I love the city of Baltimore. We’ve gone there for years, and we’ll really enjoy it. That’s a given.”
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