Yet beyond this New Yorker's quiet, gruff and unpretentious exterior is a player who harbors a deep understanding and appreciation for the profession he has chosen.
During a social media era when some athletes seem more concerned with being the man than being a man, Markakis has quietly carried himself with a professionalism that is refreshing to baseball fans. More importantly, since climbing the minor league ranks to the Oriole's major league roster in 2006, Markakis has remained loyal to an Orioles family and fanbase that has endured decades of losing baseball.
Markakis is an instinctual left-handed speedster with a heat-seeking missile for an arm. After an impressive 2006 rookie campaign in which he batted .291 with 16 home runs, 25 doubles and 62 RBI, Markakis has been a model of consistency in his seven years of major league service with the Orioles. Between 2007 and 2011, he has never had fewer than 182 hits in a season.
Through 2012, Markakis has already amassed 1,189 hits and 262 doubles, to go with 117 homers and 545 RBI. Markakis’ career stat line is .295/.365/.455/.819.
Still just 28, Markakis is also the fastest Oriole's player to reach 1,000 hits.
Per MASN’s Steve Melewski, Cal Ripken Jr. achieved his 1,000th hit in career game No. 894 at Yankee Stadium. Brooks Robinson hit the 1,000-hit mark in game No. 989 at Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota.
Markakis reached that milestone in game No. 875—much to the delight of the crowd at Camden Yards. His feat occurred while Baltimore was in the midst of a nine-game losing streak.
Here is Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter (per Avi Zaleon of MLB.com), after Markakis’ 1,000th hit:
I think the consistency is something that, I'm a big fan of consistency, especially from a manager's seat, knowing what you are going to get from somebody, not wondering. He's a guy that's very easy to trust. Brings a certain element every day regardless of what's going on in his life on or off the field and physically. Nick's dinged up. You see him after the game, some of the things that I see, he posts up. It's very important to him to post up, be there for the organization and teammates. It's just the way he was brought up. And that's something that came with him when he was drafted, it wasn't something he developed here. You don't develop that in the big leagues, very seldom.
Seldom indeed. Rarely do baseball fans get to see humble (though reluctant) leaders like Markakis. Rarely will fans find a player whose loyalty transcends the desire for bright lights and media attention.
More importantly, rarely do fans see a player who does his part to handle his team’s difficulties in quiet, behind closed doors, where they belong. It's an approach that seems eerily similar to that of his manager.
By the way, with Markakis' 3-for-5 performance vs. the New York Yankees Sunday, he has done something else in quiet fashion. He has raised his season average to .300.
Are Orioles’ faithful witnessing the early stages of a future Hall of Fame career? Perhaps that of a player who might one day be immortalized in bronze at Camden Yards beside other iconic men named Earl, Cal, Brooks, Frank, Jim and Eddie?
While Markakis' career is off to a nice start, it is still too early to tell. But what is very evident is that, at 74-59, the Orioles have begun to rise from the ashes of more than two decades of misery.
And Markakis has very quietly played a huge role in this.
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