This is a day we all knew would come, and a day we never wanted to see.
Nick Markakis, the most underrated player in Major League Baseball over the last 15 years, showed everybody you don’t need glamour and flashiness to play good baseball. You don’t need to talk to everyone you see, or anyone at all for that matter. What matters is what you bring to the field, how you bring it, and how to stay consistently consistent. Nick Markakis is the epitome of those three rules.
The long journey for the quiet kid out of Georgia originally started back in 2001. In that year, he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds, but elected to attend Young Harris College instead. Again in 2002, the Cincinnati Reds drafted Markakis, and, again, he chose not to sign. That might have been the smartest thing he has ever done.
Finally in 2003, Markakis was drafted to the team he would stay with for over a decade, the Baltimore Orioles. Markakis was the seventh overall pick in that draft. He flew through the minors, opening eyes as he soared from A-ball to Double-A in a little less than three season.
Markakis made his debut in black and orange on April 3, 2006. From that point on, No. 21 would be a staple of the Orioles until the end of 2014.
In his time with the Orioles, Markakis held a slash line of .290/.358/.435 and a .781 OPS. The fact he never made an All-Star Game in Baltimore is mind boggling. He was Mr. Consistency, and his play helped catapult the Orioles into relevancy.
There are countless memories I have of Nick Markakis in an Orioles uniform, and even some with the Braves. One of my favorite memories of Nick, the man of few words and fewer smiles, was the giant grin across his face as the Orioles defeated the Blue Jays in September of 2014 to secure the A.L. East Division Championship. That image is one I hold synonymous with my love for baseball in general.
Maybe the best memory I have of Nick is one that will never be forgotten. My mother and I are both die hard Oriole fans and had tickets for Game 2 of the 2014 ALDS against the Tigers. This game is known as the “Delmon Young game”. However, I remember it for another reason, as well.
It was October 3, which was my mother’s birthday. She LOVED Nick Markakis. Almost like he knew this, he hit a two-run bomb to right field, no more than 15 feet in front of us! The stadium was electric following Nick’s one career postseason home run, and it still holds extreme sentimental value for me.
My other best memory of Nick was actually when he was a member of the Atlanta Braves. For years and years he was completely overlooked and had never made an All-Star Game. Finally in 2018, he made one.
It’s not only him making the game that is memorable, but it was how he presented himself before the game. Maybe the quietest man in the league shows up on the red carpet, a month past due for a hair cut, and he’s wearing a night gown! I’ll never forget seeing that and thinking, “he’s saying not to sleep on him anymore!”
15 seasons of 2,388 hits to only 1,969 swings and misses. A .288 career average and 34.0 career WAR. Nick Markakis showed throughout his entire career how baseball can be played the right way.
For Oriole fans and baseball fans alike, Nick Markakis will be a player that will never be forgotten! Congratulations to Nick on a fantastic career, and we wish him the best of luck in the future!
What are your fondest memories of Nick Markakis? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on the web and on Facebook and Twitter!