The All-Time Baltimore Oriole Scrap-Iron Lineup
These aren't the All-Stars. They're not the Cal Jr.s, the Eddie Murrays, or Jim Palmers of Oriole fame. These are the scrappy guys, the hard heads that wouldn't quit, the guys that did the dirty work up the middle. These are the guys that embody "Oriole Magic."
Paul Richards. A journeyman, backup catcher in the bigs, Richards, who played for Bill Terry and Connie Mack, spent four seasons as an Oriole on-field GM/Manager. Paul Rapier Richards set the tone for future Oriole teams by initiating "The Oriole Way," which was youth, pitching, and defense.
It only took him five seasons to prove the system worked, with a second place finish to the Yanks in 1960.
Prior to coming to the Orioles, Richards built the Chicago White Sox into contenders using the same theory, and upon moving to Baltimore tried to swap the entire O's roster with the ChiSox, but a kid named Brooks Robinson killed the deal.
Ex-catchers are all scrap-iron and when you bring that to the GM's job, it rubs off on the organization.
"Today's athletes run faster and make a lot more plays in the field, but the name of the game is still pitching and it ain't going to change." - Paul Richards
Who else but the epitome of scrap iron, "The Earl of Baltimore," Earl Weaver. Weaver was the happiest angry man I've ever seen work...or maybe it was the other way 'round.
At the halfway mark of the '68 season, and at three games over .500, O's GM Harry Dalton replaced 1966 World Series winning manager Hank Bauer with Weaver. Earl managed 15 years of great O's teams before retiring in '82.
Prior to taking a second shot with the dying Birds of '85-'86, Earl's worst season was a 90-win, fourth-place finish in '78.
Never a big leaguer, Earl knew "the Oriole Way," a game of pitching and defense, but he added his own twist—the three-run homer that carried the club to the top of the AL East for a decade and a half.
Dalton and Weaver enjoyed the O's '68-'71 run together. After Dalton left, Earl worked with GM greats Frank Cashen '72-'75 and Hank Peters '75-'86, who enabled Weaver's winning style of managing.
One of Earl's most underrated accomplishments was Dr. Frankensteining, a switch-hitting left fielder that hit 79 home runs and 264 RBI over the '82-'83 seasons, an accomplishment that I can not find a comparison to...help me out.
"A manager's job is simple. For 162 games, you try not to screw up all that smart stuff your organization did last December." - Earl Weaver
Cal Ripken, Sr. Check Cal Sr.'s baseball card, I mean, look at this guy! Is that the face of scrap-iron baseball or what? Obviously, the father of Orioles' Cal Jr. and Billy, Cal Sr. was an Oriole before both were born.
Cal Ripken, Sr. spent 36 years in the Baltimore Oriole organization, booking 964 wins in a 13-year minor-league managing career before filling a number of roles for the Orioles, but the third-base coaching box was his primary domain.
In 1988, he was promoted to the Bird's manager's office and was promptly crapped all over by the O's front office for losing the first six games of the infamous '88 season. Cal Ripken Sr.'s firing was a sad day for Oriole fans.
"The game of baseball is made up of many little things. If we do all the little things right, then we'll never have a big thing to worry about." - Cal Ripken Sr.
Elrod Hendricks WAS the face of the Baltimore Orioles. In 37 years as a player and a coach, Ellie was a fixture at Memorial Stadium and the Yard. Pre-game workouts were the E-Rod show, as he worked the lower field boxes, waving, smiling, and having a chat with friends.
He handled the O's bullpen like a benevolent dictator for 28 of those years. Ellie had a stroke in April of '05 and was removed from the coaching roster, but O's manager Lee Mazilli reinstated Hendricks because the club and fans missed him in the locker room.
In December of 2005, Elrod Hendricks died of heart failure the day after playing Santa Claus for over 100 Baltimore children. Hendricks was "E-Rod" before there was an A-Rod.
"You know Earl. He's not happy unless he's not happy." - Bullpen Coach Elrod Hendricks
Kevin Millar, RH. Yeah, yeah, he's a flake from LA LA Land, and he "cowboyed up" with the '04 BoSox Champs, but Millar is my scrap-iron first bagger of ALL-TIME.
The guy just flat out loves the game and always plays above his skill set by giving 100 percent on the field. Millar comes in as an undrafted, independent leaguer and wins a World Series ring. He was SCAB during the '94-'95 strike and BARRED from the MLBPA, who sucks anyway.
Because of Millar's ban, he is fictionalized on all MLBPA licensed video games with Power Pros '08 "Great Johnson" being his most apt alias. He'll be remembered as a wonderful baseball ambassador and it will mean zilch.
Millar gives everything for the game, but he'll get absolutely nothing from it when he's gone. Write your congressman.
"Has anyone ever called you a scab?" "That’s the one thing I’ve never accepted. If anyone had a problem with me—I always made them come to me and talk to me about my situation if somebody approaches me like that, like a non-human being. There’s been a couple of scenarios.
Other than that, I never had a problem with that because players approach me, know my situation. I reported back, but now they (withhold) my licensing money. You don’t have a choice. All the people have all the answers 10 years later. You don’t know what’s going on when you’re a guy making $600 a month with no benefits from Major League Baseball." - Kevin Millar
*Honorable Mention: Randy Milligan just for being a constant on the scrap-iron team of all-time, the 1989 Orioles. Milligan worked the count harder than anyone in that lineup.
Rich Dauer, RH/Bobby Grich, RH. I am so torn between these two; I couldn't choose just one. The Baltimore Orioles are the Bermuda Triangle of free agency, and Bobby Grich was probably the Orioles' biggest free-agent mistake ever, a tragedy of epic proportions.
If we, as a nation, can apologize publicly for an evil of evils such as human slavery...why can't the Baltimore Orioles baseball club deliver a genuflecting edict taking responsibility for losing one of the greatest second basemen ever to play the game?
Don't you just love picking up a four- or five-tool second baseman in your fantasy drafts? You know you do! Bobby Grich was the prototype for the modern version of the second baseman, and he was tough as scrap-iron nails.
Grich was a SIX-tool second bagger because anything he lacked, he made up for with brains. Remember how experts said Cal Ripken didn't need as much range because he was always in the right position? That's why Bobby Grich set all those fielding records too.
Grich's line for 17 seasons: .266 AVG/224 HR/864 RBI/1033 R/104 SB/47 Triples/six-time All-Star/four Gold Gloves/one Silver Slugger award.
Bobby Grich could do it all...and I am STILL pissed off!
"He was the professional ball player's professional. Always was nice to the fans, signed autographs every time there was a request. Did all the interviews, did everything that was asked of him" - Brooks Robinson on Bobby Grich.
Rich Dauer, RH. Richie Dauer did not strike out, he led the AL twice in not striking out...it's no wonder Earl Weaver loved this little guy so much. Earl loved Richie so much he put him in 1,140 games simply because hit put the ball in play and was adept at turning the double play with shortstop Mark Belanger.
Dauer was a good, solid second sacker that would never see the inside of a big league clubhouse this day and age, but yet was good enough to pair up with Cal Ripken, Jr. for four years of double play magic, too.
I have no clue why I love Richie Dauer so much, other than the fact that he should have never been a starter on a big league club...but was for almost eight years. This is the guy that took over for the above-mentioned Bobby Grich, and that's as hard as a rock right there.
Maybe I love 'im because he actually made it easier to move on after Grich departed, or maybe because second base didn't turn into a revolving door of failure, as so often happens in Balmer. Richie Dauer was a scrap-iron Bird.
But maybe it was that Rich Dauer epitomized the Oriole Way by giving every freakin' ounce of himself to the game, day in and day out, regardless of his talent or his contract. Dauer has two World Series rings as a player, and I'm going to let you tell me...Eight Seasons: .257 AVG / 43 HR / .987 FP-2B.
"I walked into Double-A and Cal Ripken, Sr. grabbed me by the throat and he threw me up against the wall, and he said, 'I don't care where you went to school. I don't care what round you got drafted in. I don't care who you are, and I don't care if you hit .300. But if you play and you give me 110 percent, then we're going to get along fine.'" - Rich Dauer
*Honorable Mention: Old F**K F**E hisself, Billy Ripken, again for being an '89 Oriole.
Doug DeCinces, RH. If Brooks Robinson was the "Human Vacuum Cleaner," DeCinces was "The Hockey Goalie" at third base for the O's. When I close my eyes and think of Doug, I see a broken nose, and I can hear Chuck Thompson saying..."it's a hard grounder to... OUCH!"
What made DeCinces truly scrap-iron was that he didn't care...and he had a rifle for an arm...so as long as he knocked the ball down with some part of his bruised and bloodied person, he could still throw 'em out at first.
Doug DeCinces was a good, solid third sacker for 12 years, seven with the Orioles, and was the second-biggest free agent loss in O's history.
Why? Because we got to watch Glenn Gulliver, Todd Cruz, Wayne Gross, Floyd Rayford, Ray Knight, Rene Gonzales, Craig Worthington, Leo Gomez, Tim Hulett, Jeff Manto, B.J. Surhoff, Cal Jr., and Tony Batista cover third base over the next 22 years. (Thank you Melvin Mora.)
"Replacing Brooks, that's not easy, I mean I can tell you a time where, true story, my parents brought my grandmother to watch me play my first major-league game back in Baltimore. We're playing against the Twins in a doubleheader.
I started the second game and as I'm warming up, there are 36,000 fans that day, and I was running, I'm 24, 25 years old, you know, trying to make it and there'd be some old Baltimore blue-collar guys yelling 'DeCinces, you're never going to replace Brooks Robinson' and then they announce my name 'Starting third baseman' and there's those boos, because they want to see Brooks." - Doug DeCinces
*Honorable Mention: Aurelio Rodriguez, one of my all-time favorite players and in 1983, the Orioles finally handed Aurelio a World Series ring after 17 years of scrapping it out as one of the great third base gloves of his era with a .237 BA and 124 HR career.
Mike Bordick. Bordick made it possible for Cal Jr. to move to third base. He was an Oriole mainstay for six seasons, and with Cal Jr. on his right flank and Robbie Alomar on his left, he was able to slip under the radar and seamlessly replace a legend at shortstop.
Amazingly, he made the 2000 AL All-Star team at short, had an outstanding glove, and he rarely sat down. Bordick always gave his body up for the team, and that's why he's my scrap-iron Oriole shortstop.
''I was a little suspect because I wasn't really sure how the situation with Ripken at third base went last year but as I was being pursued by the Orioles a little bit more, I realized it was going to be like an inevitable move. I spoke to Ripken. It was a fact-finding thing for myself, I wasn't calling to say, 'Can I come over and play short?' '' - Mike Bordick
*Honorable Mention: Mark "The Blade" Belanger, the O's second best shortstop of all-time was all scrap-iron and tough as nails. Mark will show up on a different list of Oriole players that I admire so I'm going to save him 'til then.
Gary John "Solo" "Brother Lo" Lowenicki-Roenstein, SH. He made Earl Weaver the genius that he is claimed to be today. Gary John was a switch-hitting left fielder and a mainstay for the Orioles from 1978-1985.
For two amazing seasons, '82 and '83, he hit .292 with 79 HR, 202 R, 234 RBI, and was a big part of the Orioles' success as 1979 American League champions and 1983 World Series winners.
Unfortunately, the ravages of schizophrenia took their toll, and Gary John was out of baseball after the '85 season. To play that well and that long under a psychotic Bonaparte like Earl Weaver is nothing but scrap-iron tuff.
"I flush the john between innings to keep my wrists strong" - John Lowensten LH 1982- 24 HR 66 RBI / 1983- 15 HR 60 RBI
"Lowenstein? Never heard of him." - Gary Roenicki RH 1982- 21 HR 74 RBI / 1983- 19 HR, 64 RBI
*Honorable Mention: B.J. Surhoff for being such a gamer and just loving the city of Baltimore and O's fans. We love you too B.J.!
Mike "Devo" Devereaux, RH. Devo came to the O's from the Dodgers at the absolute lowest point in the Orioles' history, following an embarrassing 1988 season that began with...20 something, I don't even care or remember, losses in a row...futility.
Mike took the place of a rapidly fading, overrated Fred Lynn...another O's free-agent blunder...and immediately sparked the Memorial Stadium crowd with his youthful enthusiasm and some timely ninth-inning dingers.
In fairness, Devo was no Fred Lynn at the plate for the long-term, but he was a big improvement in center field.
But most importantly, Mike Devereaux was part of an Oriole season that wiped away the memories of the absolute armpit, hell-hole, piece-of-crap squad that tied the Atlanta Braves for the worst record in the Major Leagues in 1988.
Yes...the 1989 O's, with a collection of rejects, castaways, truck drivers, and beer-league softball players contended for the AL East flag, up until the last three days of the season.
After losing 108 games the previous year, the O's came back and won 87, a 33-game swing in 12 months AND held first place in the AL East longer than any other team that season before losing the flag by two games to Toronto.
"Here’s the thing about Devo, any scout or baseball scribe from that era will tell you that Mike was a terrific athlete — with very few baseball instincts." - Phil Wood - Examiner San Francisco
Cal Ripken Jr.'s line that season: .257/21 HR/93 RBI...How'd they do it without Cal Jr. hitting? It was magic...pure magic. If you're a player that was on the '89 Oriole roster, you're scrap-iron...and I love you for it.
*Honorable Mention: John "T-Bone" Shelby, SH, of the '83 O's was a rookie when he patrolled center field and had 10 assists and three double plays out there for the world champions. He only started for two seasons but they were scrap-iron years.
Joe "Slak" Orsulak LH. Another member of the amazing '89 O's. The nickname "Skates" is already owned by Lonnie Smith, but if it was available, it would belong to Orsulak. Joseph Michael spent five seasons flailing around in right field for the O's, but he got to more balls than the aging Lee Lacey, whom he replaced.
With a rocket arm, he had 10 assists and two double plays for the '89 O's. "Slak" just looked like blue-collar scrap-iron out there, too.
"You know, the higher up in the stands you sit, the easier the game gets. Unless you're on the ground, there's no way you can know what's going on." - Joe Orsulak
*Honorable Mention: "Whitey" Herzog '61-'62 O's...yeah THAT Whitey Herzog...and you know he was scrap-iron.
Chris Hoiles, RH/Mickey "Froot Loops""Cereal Killer" Tettleton, SH. Another toss up in scrap-iron O's history, but they were both on the '89 roster, Mickey as the starter and Hoiles for a September cup of coffee.
The Orioles had NO power in '89, but Mickey led the team in dingers with 26. Mickey was a fan favorite and played a scrap-iron game as catcher until he went down with an injury. When Tettleton went on the DL, the air of excitement just deflated for Oriole fans that year, but he is always spoken of with admiration even now.
"The biggest offensive surprise (in 1989) was Mickey Tettleton, who had a breakthrough season with 26 homers. After an interview in which his wife credited his success to his habit of eating 'Froot Loops,' Tettleton was nicknamed 'The Cereal Killer.'" - From 33rd Street to Camdem Yards - John Eisenberg
Hoiles must have given the O's big hopes because, in another foolish move, they traded Tettleton to Detroit for the '91 season and, as so often happens, Tettleton went on a tear, hitting 168 home runs in the next six years.
But Chris Hoiles was a highly-rated Tiger prospect and Detroit took Fred Lynn in exchange, so in my mind, Hoiles could do no wrong. Hoiles spent his entire career with the O's, had some pop in his bat and a big fan club in the stands, and that was scrap-iron enough for most of us.
"Hoiles, along with most of his ex-Oriole coaching staff, was brought up through the system learning "The Oriole Way," something that strongly stressed working on fundamentals and getting the basics right.
His coaches Al Bumbry, Tippy Martinez, Ryan Minor and Hoiles himself had it drilled into them throughout their development with the Orioles. 'That's kind of the era that I was brought up in, and Cal Ripken Sr. was a huge part of that -- and the whole Ripken family.'" - Jeff Seidel - MLB.com
*Honorable Mention: Clint "Scrap Iron" Courtney LH. '54 & '60 O's...The original "Scrap Iron"...check out his baseball card.
*Bonus Pick: Lenn Sakata, RH 2B/C One game 1983...After tying a 3-1 game against Toronto in the bottom of the ninth and using up all of his catchers and bench, manager Joe Altobelli had this lineup left: Lowenstein at 2B, Roenicki at 3B, and Lenn Sakata behind the plate in Dempsey's catching gear.
Tim "Big Foot" Stoddard opened the ninth by throwing two pitches, the first a Cliff Johnson HR, the second a Barry Bonnell single to right field. Sakata still hadn't received a pitch in his catching debut. Lefty Tippy Martinez relieved Stoddard and switch hitter Dave Collins stepped into the left side box to block Sakata's view of Bonnell leading off first. Tippy came to his set and, with Bonnell leaning on Sakata, Tippy picked him off first base.
Collins switched to the right side and worked Martinez for a walk, but he was promptly picked off as well. Willie Upshaw smacked an infield single over the mound and then Tippy picked him off, too.
Lenny Sakata's catching career began and ended with Tippy Martinez picking off three in the Jays' 10th, and then Tippy getting the win after two Randy Moffit walks to Eddie Murray and "T-Bone" Shelby were followed by...yep, you got it...catcher Lenn Sakata's three-run tater in the bottom of the frame. That, my friends, was a scrap-iron moment.
Harold Baines, LH. Harold is a local guy from here on Maryland's Eastern Shore, and he had some stellar seasons for the ChiSox before returning to Maryland with the Orioles. I'm saving Harold's hoopla for another list but let's face it, with knees so bad he could barely walk, everything Baines accomplished was scrap-iron hard.
"Evidently." - Harold Baines (This is the longest Harold Baines quote in existence.)
*Honorable Mentions: Jim Dwyer, LH PH, Benny "Eclipse" Ayala, RH PH, Terry "Crow" Crowley, LH PH. These guys were masters at coming off of the Oriole bench with amazing and timely hits...and they were all flaky as hell to boot.
Sitting and waiting half a career to hear Earl scream "grab a bat and get out there!" and then coming through is as scrap-iron as it gets.
"Wake me up in the bottom of the sixth." - Jim Dwyer, Benny Ayala, and Terry Crowley
Steve Stone RH...1980 Cy Young winner was 25-7 that year. After a 78-79 career came to O's, found a curve, and used it until his arm fell off two years later. Five-feet-10 inches and 175 lbs of scrap-iron.
"I have one comment about the Steve Bartman incident. Steve Bartman did not give up the four hits to the team later. He did not make the error at shortstop. Steve Bartman did not cause the Chicago Cubs not to go to the World Series. The Florida Marlins did." - Steve Stone - Chicago Cubs Announcer
Jeff Ballard, LH 18-8. Ace of the staff in '89, his only winning season...a once in a lifetime scrap-iron STUD. This kid came out of no-where in '89, and we always knew he'd be a great one...and then he was gone.
"The one thing any pitcher has to learn is, you have to know yourself, you have to know what you have to do to get the ball where you want to get it, with an aggressive attitude but when somebody goes through a struggle, you start questioning things, and you don't have any foundation to fall back on." - Jeff Ballard - 1994, five years later at AAA Buffalo.
Scott McGregor, LH. Career Oriole, 138-108, 3.99 ERA, six 200+ inning seasons, 2,140 innings in 11 seasons. Thank you scrap-iron Scotty.
"Earl was gone, and the minor-league system fell apart. I wasn't getting stronger at the end of games any more. My arm started falling apart in `87. I might have been able to catch on with another team as a lefty reliever, but I didn't want to leave Baltimore, I fell in love with Baltimore. I wasn't going anywhere." - Scott McGregor - On being released in 1988
Mike Cuellar, LH. The O's fifth starter for seven years put 139 wins on the board with four 20-win seasons and 2,028 innings. Scrap-Iron Mike.
"I went to Orioles Fantasy Camp in 1992. I went down there and played! If you're a baseball fan, it's one of the greatest things you can do. I also started pitching. I was taught how to throw a screwball by Mike Cuellar. I screwed up my rotator cuff, though." - Joan Jett of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Dave Johnson, RH. '89 O's dream team, ex-truck driver, ex-softball player, the big media story in 1989...he's scrap-iron on the radio now and is just one big quote.
Moe "Snake Man" Drabowsky RH. One of the biggest jackasses in baseball. In October of 1966, Moe set me up for life as an Oriole fan when he relieved Dave McNally in the Orioles' first World Series game against the L.A. Dodgers, with one out in the third inning.
Sitting on a 4-2 lead, Drabowsky proceeded to strike out 11 Dodgers that day while giving up only one hit and two walks. Moe got the win that day, the Orioles swept the Dodgers four days later, and I became a lifetime fan of Baltimore baseball...that's a lot of scrap-iron in one week.
"I had pitched in Kansas City for a few years, so I was familiar with the phone system. I knew the extension of the Kansas City bullpen and you could dial it direct from the visitor's bullpen.
One game, Jim Nash of the Athletics is cruising against us in about the fifth inning. So I call their bullpen and shout, 'Get Krausse up' and hang up. You should've seen them scramble, trying to get Lew Krausse warmed up in a hurry, It really was funny."- Moe Drabowsky
Gregg "Otter" Olson, RH. Another '89 O's hero, Olson was brought up at the end of the 1988 debacle but it didn't affect his curve ball in '89. Installed as the Oriole closer, Olson started dropping abominable yakkers that had a mind of their own around the plate.
Gregg's knee-buckling "Uncle Charlie" was good for 27 saves, a 1.69 ERA, and five wins in the mix. Olson won the 1989 Rookie of the Year award, was sixth in Cy Young voting, and picked up an All-Star berth in 1990.
Along with that devastating curve came the inevitable elbow injury, but while "Otter" was in his prime, he was nothing but scrap-iron.
"My favorite place to play was Memorial Stadium, You almost knew all the fans because they were accessible. Half the time, the players' parking lot was in the middle of the regular parking lot, so you got to know everybody outside the park after the game. ... You weren't above -- you weren't anything. You were just somebody they came to watch." - Greg Olson - On being enshrined in the Oriole Hall Of Fame.
Randy Myers, LH. At last, a quality free-agent signing by the Oriole front office! Myers was an established star before joining the Oriole bullpen in '96, and in his two seasons with the O's, he gave them 76 saves in two playoff seasons. His career year was 1997 with a 1.51 ERA and 45 saves.
Myers signed with Toronto for 1998, was swapped to the Padres and promptly fell off the face of earth 12 months later. Myers was the closer for the Reds' 1990 World Champion team that swept Tony La Russa's Bash Brother's and won me a ton of chips...now that's scrap-iron!
"Myers was quite a character when he pitched here, I can still see him sitting on the clubhouse floor in his camouflage T-shirt and shorts, using a large knife to slice some sort of meat for a pre-game snack. Beef, deer…I never asked. He also kept a toy grenade in his locker. At least I think it was a toy." - Roch Kubatko - Baltimore Sun
Tim "Big Foot" Stoddard, RH, "Slamin'" Sammy Stewart, RH, and Don "Stan the Man Unusual""Two Pack" Stanhouse RH. If Earl Weaver dies of lung cancer, these three guys should feel some shame.
Stanhouse was the closer in '78 and '79 and had a 2.87 ERA and 45 saves, but walked 103 batters in 146 innings, which made Weaver stomp up the tunnel and smoke as many cigarettes as he could until Ray Miller let him know how the inning went.
Tim Stoddard tried closing the following season, but Weaver wanted him to set-up with Sammy Sewart...but they were all right-handers. This righty log-jam broke when Stanhouse was shipped to the Dodgers and left-hander Tippy Martinez stepped up, but Tippy wasn't a classic closer either.
With the Orioles being in a pennant race every year, and with Earl Weaver at the helm, the Orioles' bullpen was forever a source of agony for everyone involved, but they were all a big, funny load of scrap-iron.
"Earl Weaver once called Pitcher Tim Stoddard 'two packs.' Asked by a reporter why two packs, he said that his how many cigarettes I smoke in the tunnel every time the guy pitches." - The Sporting News
"Sammy Stewart, who pitched for the 1983 World Series champion Baltimore Orioles during his 10 major-league seasons, has been sentenced to at least six years in prison after pleading guilty to drug charges and other crimes.
Stewart, 51, pleaded guilty to being a habitual felon, felony drug possession, and failure to appear in court on a felony. His plea agreement allowed the charges to be consolidated into a single habitual felon charge for sentencing purposes. Since 1988, Stewart has been charged with more than 60 offenses and sent to prison six times." - Associated Press 10/18/06
"Well, Don Stanhouse was an [expletive]. He had us in trouble, had the [expletive] bases loaded [expletive] almost every [expletive] time he went out there. He liked to ruin my health smoking cigarettes" - Earl Weaver in an old interview mistakenly aired live on YES.
*Bonus Pick: Only two pitchers with the first name Radhames have played in the bigs, Dykhoff and Liz, the O's signed both...they better be scrap-iron.
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