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Ron Guidry

Ron Guidry

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Don Stanhouse got the last laugh.As the 1979 baseball season neared the All-Star break, Stanhouse, a Du Quoin native, said few people were taking the Baltimore Orioles seriously.

The Orioles finished the 1978 season with a respectable 90-71 mark, nine games behind the New York Yankees.The Yankees and Boston Red Sox were touted as likely winners of the American League's Eastern Division.

The 1979 All-Star squads reflected that.

The Red Sox had five All-Stars; the Yankees four.

Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Carl Yazstremski, Rick Burleson and Bob Stanley represented the Red Sox while Graig Nettles, Ron Guidry, Reggie Jackson and Tommy John represented the Yankees.Stanhouse and Ken Singleton were the only two Orioles on the team, although Baltimore won the division with a remarkable 102-57 record."Going into the All-Star Game, I don't know anyone that was taking us too seriously," Stanhouse said.

"Going into Seattle (the Orioles finished the first half of the season at Seattle) is where I found out I was going to the All-Star Game with my friend that I rode to the park every day, Ken Singleton."It was a thrill to find that out."Unfortunately, the dream-come-true scenario didn't play out for Stanhouse.With the game tied 6-6 in the ninth inning, Texas pitcher Jim Kern loaded the bases with two outs.

Stanhouse said he had escaped several such situations earlier in the year.However, Bob Lemon, the Yankees' manager, elected to go with his pitcher, Ron Guidry.

Guidry came in and promptly walked the Mets' Lee Mazilli, forcing in what proved to be the winning run."I didn't even get in the game," Stanhouse said.To amplify the disappointment, Singleton's only appearance was pinch-hitting for Guidry in the bottom of the inning.Stanhouse said Singleton had difficulty hiding his frustration in the clubhouse later."Now we get on to more important things," Singleton said for all to hear as he opened a bottle of champagne in the clubhouse.The Orioles caught fire in the second half.

They lost the first game after the break, then rattled off wins in 15 of their next 17.

They finished eight games ahead of Milwaukee, 11.5 ahead of Boston and 13.5 ahead of New York."We were built around pitching, defense and the three-run homer," Stanhouse said.

"We had some firepower, but we were really built around pitching and defense.

We had (Jim) Palmer, (Dennis) Martinez, (Mike) Flanagan and (Scott) MacGregor."The Orioles also had some thumpers in Eddie Murray, Lee May, Doug DeCinces and Singleton.

Singleton ripped 35 home runs and had 111 RBIs that season.It was also a good year for Stanhouse.

He finished 7-3 with a 2.85 ERA and 24 saves."Back then you pitched two innings or something to get a save," Stanhouse said.Stanhouse pitched in three of the seven World Series games and was charged with the loss in Game 2.

In the 3-1 playoff win over California, Stanhouse appeared in three games.

He earned the win in Game 2 and was the Game 3 loser."1979 was really a good year for me," Stanhouse said.

"I was able to be an All-Star.

I was able to play in a World Series.

I met my wife that year.

So a lot of good things happened to me in 1979."And, time has eased the sting of not appearing in that 1979 All-Star Game."I was thrilled to go," Stanhouse said.

"I would have liked to have gotten into the game.

Being there and knowing I was part of that group still means a lot to me."Stanhouse now lives in [email protected] / 618-351-5088
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