Jim Palmer

Position: Pitcher
Team: Baltimore Orioles, 1965-1967, 1969-1984

Jim Palmer
Jim Palmer was instrumental in bringing
six pennants to Baltimore during his 20
seasons with the Orioles.

The image of Jim Palmer as a sex symbol, cultivated in his famous men's briefs advertisements, tends to diminish the memory of the Baltimore right-hander's remarkable ability. One of the game's top hurlers, Palmer won 20 games in eight seasons, won 15 games a dozen times, and gave up less than three earned runs a game for 10 years.

James Alvin Palmer (born in 1945) received only one year of minor-league seasoning before the Orioles promoted him in 1965. He was stationed in the bullpen most of that year. In 1966, he was inserted into the starting rotation (replacing Milt Pappas) and responded with a 15-10 record for the pennant-winning Birds.

Jim gained his first bit of fame at age 20 by shutting out the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 2 of the World Series. The losing pitcher of that contest was Sandy Koufax, pitching in the final game of his career.

Palmer missed most of the 1967 and '68 seasons with an arm injury. After surgery corrected the problem, he came back in 1969 to win 16 games and lose only four, leading the AL with an .800 winning percentage. In 1970, he began a streak of four consecutive 20-win seasons. He led the league with a 2.40 ERA, going 22-9 for the 1973 Orioles to win his first Cy Young Award.

Palmer had elbow problems in 1974, and went 7-12 with a 3.27 ERA. In 1975, for the second time in his career, he rebounded to become one of the top hurlers in baseball. He led the AL with a 2.09 ERA and 23 victories to win his second Cy Young trophy. He led the league in victories in 1976 (earning another Cy Young) and 1977, and he had 21 wins in 1978.

Jim subscribed to the theory that most batters couldn't handle his high, tight fastballs, and he was right. He allowed his share of home runs, but in 3,948 innings, he never gave up a grand slam. Despite his various injuries, he led the league in innings pitched in four seasons. He started eight games over six World Series in his career. With Palmer on the staff, the Orioles won the AL West from 1969 to 1971, 1973, '74, and '79.

Jim and the Oriole manager for those AL East crowns, Earl Weaver, were both highly competitive and self-confident men. Thus, the two had many run-ins. Their relationship was not as rocky as believed by the fans of the day; the fact that Weaver and Palmer were quotable and were on the same team for 14 years added weight to that perception.

Palmer retired in 1984, and he was named to the Hall of Fame in 1990. In spring training of 1991, he staged an ill-advised comeback attempt.

Here are Jim Palmer's major league totals:


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