Throughout the history of the Baltimore Orioles, many managers have come and gone. Some forgotten, some never. One that will never be forgotten is “Mr. Baseball”, Joe Altobelli.
Joe Altobelli was a player and a manager, making his MLB debut with the Cleveland Indians in 1955. After a short career as a player, which ended in 1961, Altobelli scored his first coaching position with the Orioles affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings in 1967, and he eventually became their manager in 1971. After finishing first four times and winning one Double-A Junior World Series, he graduated to the MLB.
Altobelli’s first managerial experience came with the San Francisco Giants. After three seasons as the skipper, Altobelli was released following a 224-239 record.
Then in 1983, Altobelli was hired back to Baltimore to succeed the great Earl Weaver. Often said to be basically the polar opposite of Weaver, Jim Palmer had said that Altobelli was “very compassionate and sensitive compared to most managers.”
1983 was the first and premiere year of Altobelli’s tenure as Baltimore’s manager. He led his ‘83 squad to a 98-win season, the A.L. Pennant, a and World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Still to this day, Altobelli is the last manager to bring a World Series victory to Baltimore.
Altobelli was let go by the Orioles in May of 1985, to be replaced by the man he had replaced a few years earlier, Earl Weaver.
In 1991 Altobelli returned to the Rochester Red Wings, this time as the general manager. Later, he worked as a color commentator for the team before his retirement in 2009.
Altobelli and his No. 26 are rightfully retired by the team, as well as having a statue at Frontier Field. Altobelli was the only one in their history to be a player, coach, manager, and general manager.
Joe passed away of natural causes at the age of 88, but his memory in the Orioles farm system and major league team will live on forever.
Our hearts and condolences go out to the entire Altobelli family during this troubling time.