Jim Palmer

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For the American basketball player, see Jim Palmer (basketball).
Jim Palmer
Jim Palmer 2009.jpg
Pitcher
Born: (1945-10-15) October 15, 1945 (age 68)
New York City, New York
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 1965 for the Baltimore Orioles
Last MLB appearance
May 12, 1984 for the Baltimore Orioles
Career statistics
Win–loss record 268–152
Earned run average 2.86
Strikeouts 2,212
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Induction 1990
Vote 92.6% (first ballot)

James Alvin "Jim" Palmer (born October 15, 1945) is a retired American right-handed pitcher who played all of his 19 years in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Baltimore Orioles (1965–1967, 1969–1984) and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.[1] Palmer was the winning pitcher in 186 games in the 1970s, the most wins in that decade by any MLB pitcher.[2] He also won at least twenty games in each of eight seasons and received three Cy Young Awards and four Gold Gloves during the decade. His 268 career victories are currently an Orioles record. A six-time American League (AL) All-Star,[3] he was also one of the rare pitchers who never allowed a grand slam in any major league contest.[4]

Palmer appeared in the postseason eight times and was a vital member of three World Series Champions, six AL pennant winners and seven Eastern Division titleholders. He is the only pitcher in the history of the Fall Classic with a win in each of three decades. He was also the youngest to pitch a shutout in a World Series at age 20 in 1966.[3] He was one of the starters on the last rotation to feature four 20-game winners in a single season in 1971.[5]

Since his retirement as an active player in 1984, Palmer has worked as a color commentator on telecasts of MLB games for ABC and ESPN and for the Orioles on Home Team Sports (HTS), Comcast SportsNet (CSN) Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).[6] He has also been a popular spokesman, most famously for Jockey International for almost twenty years.[7] He was nicknamed Cakes in the 1960s because of his habit of eating pancakes for breakfast on the days he pitched.[8]

Early years[edit]

Palmer was born in New York City. Shortly after his birth, Palmer was adopted by Moe Wiesen, a garment industry executive, and his wife Polly from Harrison, New York. After his adoptive father died in 1955, the nine-year-old Jim, his mother and his sister moved to California, where he began playing in youth-league baseball. In 1956, his mother married actor Max Palmer, from whom Jim Palmer took his last name. Showing talent at the amateur level, upon graduating from Arizona's Scottsdale High School in 1963, Palmer signed a minor-league contract at the age of 18.

Career in baseball[edit]

1960s[edit]

A high-kicking pitcher known for an exceptionally smooth delivery, Palmer picked up his first major-league win on May 16, 1965, beating the Yankees in relief at home. He hit the first of his three career major-league home runs, a two-run shot, in the fourth inning of that game off of Yankees starter Jim Bouton. Palmer finished the season with a 5–4 record.

In 1966, Palmer joined the starting rotation. Baltimore won the pennant behind Frank Robinson's MVP and Triple Crown season. Palmer won his final game against the Kansas City Athletics to clinch the AL pennant. In Game 2 of that World Series at Dodger Stadium, he became the youngest pitcher (20 years, 11 months) to win a complete-game, World Series shutout, defeating the defending world champion Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-0. The underdog Orioles swept the series over a Los Angeles team that featured Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and Claude Osteen. The shutout was part of a World Series record-setting 33 13 consecutive shutout innings by Orioles pitchers. The Dodgers' last run was against Moe Drabowsky in the third inning of Game 1. Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally pitched shutouts in the next three games.

During the next two seasons, Palmer struggled with arm injuries. He threw just 49 innings in 1967 and was sent to minor-league rehabilitation. He regained his form after undergoing surgery, working in the 1968 Instructional League and playing winter baseball. He had been placed on waivers in September 1968 and was left unprotected for the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft one month later, but was not claimed.[9]

In 1969, Palmer returned healthy, rejoining an Orioles rotation that included 20-game winners Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar. That August 13, Palmer threw a no-hitter against Oakland, just four days after coming off the disabled list. He finished the season with a mark of 16–4, 123 strikeouts, a 2.34 ERA, and .800 winning percentage. The heavily favored Orioles were beaten in the 1969 World Series by the New York Mets with Palmer taking the loss in Game 3.

1970s[edit]

The Orioles won two more championships in the next two seasons. In 1970, Cuellar went 24–8, McNally 24–9, Palmer 20–10; in 1971 the trio went 20–9, 21–5 and 20–9, respectively, with Pat Dobson going 20–8. Only one other team in MLB history, the 1920 Chicago White Sox, has had four 20-game winners.

Palmer won 21 games in 1972, and went 22–9, 158, 2.40 in 1973, walking off with his first Cy Young Award. His success was interrupted in 1974 when he was downed for eight weeks with elbow problems. Palmer had lost seven games in a row by the time he went on the disabled list on June 20. He was diagnosed with an ulnar nerve injury and orthopedic surgeon Robert Kerlan prescribed rest, hot and cold water therapy and medication. Surgery was considered, but Palmer's pain lessened and he was able to return to play in August. He finished 7–12.[10]

Again, Palmer was at his peak in 1975, winning 23 games, throwing 10 shutouts (allowing just 44 hits in those games), and fashioning a 2.09 ERA—all tops in the American League. He completed 25 games, even saved one, and limited opposing hitters to a .216 batting average. He won his second Cy Young Award, and repeated his feat in 1976 (22–13, 2.51). During the latter year, he won the first of four consecutive Gold Glove Awards. (Jim Kaat, who had won the award 14 years in a row, moved to the National League, where he won the award that year and in 1977.)

In 1977–78, Palmer won 20 and 21 games. During the period spanning 1970 to 1978, Palmer had won 20 games in every season except for 1974. During those eight 20-win seasons, he pitched between 274 13 and 319 innings per year, leading the league in innings pitched four times. During that span, he threw between 17 and 25 complete games each year.[11]

1980s[edit]

Over the next six seasons he was hampered by arm fatigue and myriad minor injuries. Even so, he brought a stabilizing veteran presence to the pitching staff. His final major-league victory was noteworthy: Pitching in relief of Mike Flanagan in the third game of the 1983 World Series, he faced the Phillies' celebrity-studded batting order and gave up no runs in a close Oriole win.

The 17 years between his first World Series win in 1966 and the 1983 win is the longest period of time between first and last pitching victories in the World Series for an individual pitcher in major league history. He also became the only pitcher in major league baseball history to have won World Series games in three decades. Also, he became the only player in Orioles history to appear in all six (1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1983) of their World Series appearances.

Palmer was the only Orioles player on the 1983 championship team to have previously won a World Series. He retired after being released by Baltimore during the 1984 season. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1990, his first year of eligibility.

Early broadcasting career[edit]

From 1985 to 1989, Palmer formed an announcing team with Al Michaels and Tim McCarver at ABC. Palmer announced the 1985 World Series, where he was supposed to team with Michaels and Howard Cosell. McCarver replaced Cosell for the World Series at the last minute after Cosell released a book that was critical of the ABC Sports team. Palmer was present at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on October 17, 1989, when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit prior to Game 3 of the World Series. After the 1989 season, ABC lost its contract to broadcast baseball. Palmer had earned $350,000 from ABC that year for appearing on around ten regular season broadcasts and making a few postseason appearances.[12]

In 1990, the Los Angeles Times reported that Palmer was thinking of pursuing work as a major league manager. Instead, Palmer worked as an analyst for ESPN and as a broadcaster for Orioles games on their local television station.[12]

Comeback attempt[edit]

In 1991, Palmer attempted a comeback with the Orioles. Palmer said that he wanted to make sure that he had not retired too early. ESPN, which was trying to cut expenses, had asked him to take a pay cut and to sign a three-year contract. Palmer said he would sign a one-year contract for less pay, but ESPN refused. "I wouldn't be here today if the broadcasting climate had been more to my liking. That was really my prime motivation, the fact that I no longer had that obligation," Palmer said during spring training.[13]

Covering Palmer's spring training workouts, Richard Hoffer of Sports Illustrated said that Palmer's comeback was not entirely about money. He wrote that "it is fair to suspect that a certain vanity is involved."[14] Hoffer said that Palmer "has failed to excite either ridicule or astonishment. He's in fabulous condition, no question. But no matter whom he lines up with on the row of practice mounds, there is more pop in the gloves of catchers other than his."[14]

While working out at the University of Miami during his comeback attempt, Palmer was approached by Miami assistant coach Lazaro Collazo. Collazo reportedly told him, "You'll never get into the Hall of Fame with those mechanics." "I'm already in the Hall of Fame", Palmer replied.[14] To help Palmer's pitching motion, Collazo and Palmer completed unusual drills that involved Palmer placing a knee or foot on a chair as he tossed the ball.[14]

After giving up five hits and two runs in two innings of a spring training game, he retired permanently. Palmer said that he tore his hamstring while warming up for the game, commenting, "I'm not saying I wouldn't like to continue, but I can't," he said. "I heard something pop in my leg yesterday. It wasn't a nice sound. I don't know what that means, but I think it's going to play havoc with my tennis game."[15] He retired with a 268-152 win-loss record and a 2.86 ERA.

Return to broadcasting[edit]

From 1994 to 1995, Palmer returned to ABC to broadcast with McCarver and Michaels. He is currently a color commentator on MASN's television broadcasts of Oriole games. He is known for his incisive criticism of the team's play and unwillingness to give steroid-era hitters the equal approval with regard their statistics.

In July 2012, Palmer put his three Cy Young trophies and two of his four Gold Glove Awards up for auction. "At this point in my life, I would rather concern myself with the education of my grandchildren," he said.[16] Palmer also noted that his autistic teenage stepson would require special care and that "my priorities have changed."[16] Palmer had put one his Cy Young trophies up for auction on behalf of a fundraising event for cystic fibrosis in years past, although he stated the winning bidder "had paid $39,000 for that and never ever took it. It was for the cause."[16]

Legacy[edit]

Orioles22 retired.png
Jim Palmer's number 22 was retired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1985.

Palmer has been considered one of the best pitchers in major-league history. Palmer is the only pitcher in big-league history to win World Series games in three decades. During his 19-year major league career of 575 games (including 17 postseason games), he never surrendered a grand slam, nor did he ever allow back-to-back homers. Palmer's career earned run average (2.856) is the third lowest among starting pitchers whose careers began after the advent of the Live Ball Era in 1920. In six ALCS and six World Series, he posted an 8–3 record with 90 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.61 and two shutouts in 17 games.

He was a mainstay in the rotation during Baltimore's six pennant-winning teams in the 1960s (1966 & 1969), 1970s (1970, 1971 and 1979) and 1980s (1983). In 2010, Palmer became the last surviving member of the 1971 Baltimore starting rotation that included four 20-game winners. Palmer won spots on six All-Star teams, received four Gold Glove Awards and won three Cy Young Awards. He led the league in ERA twice and in wins three times.

In 1999, he ranked No. 64 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,[17] and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Personal[edit]

Palmer at a 2008 parade

During the late 1970s, Palmer was a spokesman and underwear model for Jockey brand men's briefs. He appeared in the company's national print and television advertisements as well as on billboards at Times Square in New York City and other major cities. He donated all proceeds from the sale of his underwear poster to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

From 1992 until 1999, he was frequently seen on television throughout the United States in commercials for The Money Store, a national home equity and mortgage lender. He has periodically appeared in ads and commercials for vitamins and other health-related products. Palmer also represents Cosamin DS, a joint health supplement made by Nutramax Laboratories in Edgewood, Maryland.

He was also the spokesperson for Nationwide Motors Corp., which is a regional chain of car dealerships located in the Middle Atlantic region. He is currently a spokesman for the national "Strike Out High Cholesterol" campaign.[18] Additionally, Palmer serves as a member of the advisory board of the Baseball Assistance Team, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping former Major League, Minor League, and Negro League players through financial and medical difficulties.

In 1996, Palmer published a less-than-flattering view of his relationship with Earl Weaver, titled 'Together We Were Eleven Foot Nine: The Twenty-Year Friendship of Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Palmer and Orioles Manager Earl Weaver." In a January 2013 USA Today article, Palmer was quoted as saying, "He wasn't a warm and fuzzy guy, but Earl got us to those World Series... I've seen a lot of Broadway shows in my time, but I never saw a better show than Earl with an umpire. Some people wondered if that was staged. I don't think so. I think he got lost in the moment."[19]


Shortly after graduating from high school in 1963, he married (1964) the former Susan Ryan with whom he has two daughters.[20] A ten-year marriage to Joan H. Palmer ended in divorce in May 2000. In April 2001, he was found in contempt of court for failing to transfer $175,000 from his pension fund to his ex-wife and ordered to pay $13,500 in legal fees.[21] As of 2008, Palmer and his wife Susan(Schmidt - July 2007)[22] have homes in [Palm Beach, Florida], and in California. In 2006, Palmer also acquired a penthouse condominium in Little Italy, Baltimore, which he uses while in Baltimore for Orioles' broadcasts.[23] He has two daughters, Jamie and Kelly.[24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jim Palmer (biography) – National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
  2. ^ Mueller, Bobby. "Jack Morris: the winningest pitcher of the 1980s," The Hardball Times, Thursday, January 26, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Jim Palmer (broadcaster biography) – Baltimore Orioles.
  4. ^ Kurkjian, Tim. "The grand slam...unusual, yet fun," ESPN The Magazine, August 17, 2006.
  5. ^ Goldstein, Richard. "Mike Cuellar, Star Pitcher for Orioles, Dies at 72," The New York Times, Monday, April 5, 2010.
  6. ^ Jim Palmer (biography) – Premiere Speakers Bureau.
  7. ^ Jim Palmer (biography) – CMG Worldwide.
  8. ^ Eisenberg, John. From 33rd Street to Camden Yards: An Oral History of the Baltimore Orioles. New York City: Contemporary Books, 2001.
  9. ^ James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. Simon and Schuster. p. 256. 
  10. ^ Fimrite, Ron (July 21, 1975). "Kings Of The Hill Again". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Jim Palmer". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b Hyman, Mark (February 12, 1990). "Jim Palmer more than ever an ex-ballplayer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  13. ^ White, George (February 24, 1991). "Spring fever: Can Hall Of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer be a comeback kid at 45?". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c d Hoffer, Richard (March 11, 1991). "Hope Flings Eternal". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  15. ^ Schmuck, Peter (March 13, 1991). "Palmer announces end to attempted comeback". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c "Jim Palmer puts Cy Young awards up for auction". USA Today. Associated Press. July 2, 2012. Retrieved July 3, 2012. 
  17. ^ "100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News : A Legendary List by Baseball Almanac". Baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  18. ^ Official Site of the Round Rock Express
  19. ^ White, Paul (January 20, 2013). "Jim Palmer's Earl Weaver memories are mostly fond". USA Today. Retrieved February 8, 2014. 
  20. ^ "People Magazine," (10/04/1982) interview with Linda Marx
  21. ^ "Jim Palmer found in contempt - Baltimore Sun". Articles.baltimoresun.com. 2001-04-19. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  22. ^ cite news|last=Siegel|first=Andrea|title=Nest of a former Oriole [The Baltimore Sun]|date=2008-09-28|page=RE2}
  23. ^ Siegel, Andrea (2008-09-28). "Nest of a former Oriole[The Baltimore Sun]". p. RE2. 
  24. ^ "Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Palmer on Shared Parenting « Fathers & Families". Fathersandfamilies.org. 2007-10-24. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Don Wilson
No-hitter pitcher
August 13, 1969
Succeeded by
Ken Holtzman