There are 79 members of the Baltimore Orioles Corridor of Fame, and, sadly, none of them is called Joe Altobelli. Regardless of being certainly one of solely three managers to skipper the Orioles to a World Collection championship (Earl Weaver and Hank Bauer are the others), Alto doesn’t have a plaque on the brick wall alongside Oriole Park’s Eutaw Road walkway.
That’s a darn disgrace.
And a obvious omission.
In accordance with the Corridor’s by-laws, Alto doesn’t qualify as a result of he managed Baltimore for fewer than two-and-a-half years. I perceive guidelines are vital, however generally, they, like information, are supposed to be damaged. Or not less than adjusted to permit for exceptions. Generally widespread sense and the spirit of the legislation must prevail.
Sure, Alto could have been there for simply two seasons and alter, however they have been awfully good seasons, and, looking back, he by no means ought to have been fired. Apart from profitable the Fall Basic in 1983 — which, by the way in which, stays the Orioles final championship — Alto posted a 212-167 document, a strong 559 profitable proportion, which is simply two factors under what Bauer achieved in 4 seasons and alter.
The voters could be smart to additionally bear in mind the 11 years Alto spent as a minor-league supervisor. Throughout that point, he performed an integral position instructing younger gamers “Oriole Manner” fundamentals, which made Bauer and Weaver’s jobs a lot simpler and the major-league membership a lot extra profitable. Older Rochesterians are effectively conscious of the affect Alto had on future main league stars throughout his six seasons managing the Triple-A Pink Wings. His 1971 crew received all of it and was named one of many best minor-league golf equipment of all-time by “Baseball America” journal. His 1976 Rochester crew compiled a fair higher document, and introduced one other Governors’ Cup to the Flower Metropolis. These groups helped make 1000’s of Rochesterians into lifetime Orioles followers.
Alongside the way in which, Alto helped develop standouts reminiscent of Eddie Murray, Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, Doug DeCinces, Dennis Martinez, Johnny Oates, Mike Flanagan and Scottie McGregor. I’ve had the chance to talk to these Oriole Corridor of Famers, in addition to a number of others, by the many years, and so they all swear by Alto. A number of of them referred to him as not solely a supervisor, however a father determine.
“There have been instances, firstly of my profession, that my confidence was shot and I thought of quitting,” mentioned Grich, a six-time American League All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner at second base. “Thank, God, Joe was my supervisor at that essential time. Once I was actually doubting my skills, he stored providing encouragement and options. And he stored writing my title on that lineup card. I don’t know of too many managers who would have stored displaying that stage of confidence. I owe him quite a bit.”
Weaver owed him a lot, too.
“I knew that after we referred to as all the way down to get a participant from Rochester, he was going to be able to go and was going to be essentially sound as a result of he had been coached to the hilt by Joe,” the late Earl of Baltimore instructed me. “Joe was as stable a baseball man and instructor as you’re ever going to search out.”
A real Oriole.
The crew will announce the Class of 2021 inductees within the subsequent month or two, and, sadly, Alto, who died two weeks in the past at age 88, was not thought of once more due to that length-of-service technicality. However there’s nonetheless hope. I had an encouraging dialog Monday morning with Invoice Stetka, the long-time Orioles’ media relations director who took over because the membership’s director of alumni relations in 2008. He was type sufficient to listen to me out, significantly my argument that Alto’s 11 years as a minor-league supervisor within the group additionally needs to be thought of. In some methods, I really was preaching to choir as a result of Stetka was effectively conscious of Alto’s Oriole achievements and loyalty.
“I’m not essentially against altering the standards for managers and gamers, however I’d be afraid it would open up a Pandora’s Field,” he mentioned. “I completely perceive your argument, and we could have to begin guys who spent numerous time within the minors, and that features managers.”
The Orioles Corridor was began in 1977, with Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson because the constitution inductees. Since that point, a number of by-law revisions have been made, enabling non-uniform personnel reminiscent of broadcasters, scouts and entrance workplace executives to be eligible. The choice committee even made house for tremendous fan “Wild Invoice” Hagy, the Baltimore cab driver who grew to become well-known for main the “O-R-I-O-L-E-S” chants from the higher deck of previous Memorial Stadium.
I’m all for these inclusions. These folks undoubtedly are a part of the material of the franchise’s wealthy historical past. However so, too, is Alto. A much bigger half than many would possibly understand. Sure, it might have been fantastic for him to have been in a position to expertise this honor a number of years in the past, earlier than he suffered a stroke and his well being took a critical flip for the more severe. However I imagine acknowledgement of his Oriole achievements would have nice that means to his children, grandkids, nice grandkids and his longtime companion, Michele DiGaetano.
Alto gave the Orioles his all for components of 14 seasons, and contributed drastically to them turning into the mannequin franchise not simply in baseball, however in all of sports activities. He needs to be remembered. And celebrated. He deserves a everlasting spot on that brick wall, hopefully, by the summer season of 2022.
Greatest-selling creator and nationally honored journalist Scott Pitoniak is the Rochester Enterprise Journal sports activities columnist.