While growing up in Metro Detroit, my eyeballs could not help but be glued to my television the first time I saw Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
It was a typical late summer evening in early September 1995, when I watched Cal Ripken Jr. take a joyous victory lap around this jam-packed swank brick-and-mortar beauty of a ballpark.
As Ripken bypassed that vintage warehouse, slapping extended hands of cheering fans after trumping Lou Gehrig for most consecutive games played, I could not help but feel the same exhilaration fans at Camden Yards must have felt that night.
Also significant, this was also the first night I heard a relative reference how the “Iron Man” represented “the Oriole Way.”
It was a great night for baseball fans indeed.
Marching forward nearly two decades, I recently visited Camden Yards for a ballgame between the Detroit Tigers and the Orioles.
This was not the first time I had seen a game at the ballpark. Having been stationed here off and on for a while now, I have seen many games.
But this night was more special than usual. For beyond the bullpen in left center field, I got to see recently unveiled bronze sculptures of Orioles legends Frank Robinson and Earl Weaver.
There was another sculpture draped in cloth that was to be unveiled the following afternoon. This belonged to Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer.
These sculptures were the product of great minds that realized the Orioles Legends Celebration Series. Robinson, Weaver and Palmer were three of six sculptures to be unveiled this season.
The other three—Eddie Murray, Ripken and Brooks Robinson—will be complete the series of great men who all epitomized the same “Oriole Way” I learned about nearly two decades ago.
While thrilling to say the least, as I scoured the list of men, I could not help but think this beautiful band of bronze brothers was not yet complete.
I believe a seventh Oriole exists that deserves to be forever immortalized.
His name is Boog Powell.
Now I know Powell is not a Hall of Famer. And I am aware that he not spend his entire career with the Orioles. I also know the odds of him being honored in bronze seems like a long shot—kind of like Elrod Hendricks.
But as a pure baseball fan, I cannot help feel Powell still belongs in this exclusive club of Orioles legends.
Powell, along with the Robinsons (Frank and Brooks), was a member of what The Sporting News called the “Lords of Baltimore.”
More importantly, this former heavy-thumping first baseman was a major element of Baltimore’s Glory Years, when the Orioles were an American League powerhouse.
Should Boog Powell Be Immortalized in Bronze?
While an initial look at Powell’s career stats may not warrant Hall of Fame credentials, many of Orioles faithful wonder what could have been had this 6’4” 240-lb ballplayer’s career had not been marred by injuries.
Hitting in an era where pitchers were as tough as workers at Bethlehem Steel, Powell batted .269 with 339 career homers and 1,187 RBI. He is one of 272 MLB players to earn 1,000 RBI in career.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, Powell’s accolades include two World Series championships, four All-Star selections and two American League Comeback Player of the Year awards.
Powell also won the AL MVP in 1970. He also finished in the top five in AL MVP voting on two other occasions (1966/1969).
An imposing, larger than life figure, Powell was also one of the only players in history to boast a musical in his honor. Per SI Vault, Powell was the colorful centerpiece of Boog! The Big Baseball Musical in 1971.
Today, Powell is 70 years young and the proud owner of Boog’s Famous Barbeque at Camden Yards.
While fans make valid points he is not a Hall of Famer, he should still be immortalized with his fellow icons.
Because like Frank, Earl, Jim, Eddie, Cal and Brooks, Boog reflects “the Oriole Way.”
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