Former Orioles OF Joe Orsulak recalls the 'Why Not' season with Frank Robinson as manager

The 'Why Not' season was one of the more well-remembered times in Orioles lore.

Bob Haynie
February 08, 2019 - 3:38 pm

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By: Kyle J. Andrews

Joe Orsulak was an outfielder for the Orioles from 1988-1992. In the first year of his tenure with the team, Baltimore finished the season with a 54-107 (.335) – beginning the year with a 0-21 start. During that time, Frank Robinson took over from Cal Ripken Sr. at manager.

“Frank was tough,” Orsulak said on 105.7 The Fan’s Vinny and Haynie. “I think he was easier on the rookies because they were a little more fragile, so to speak. He didn’t want to ruin them, but the veterans – we were a little hardened. He had high expectations and when you didn’t do well it wasn’t hard to see that Frank wasn’t pleased.”

In the 1989 season, the Orioles looked to bounce back from their horrific year. They would do just that, posting an 87-75 (.537) record and a second-place finish. Despite missing the playoffs, Orsulak credits Robinson with how players

“[In]  ’89 we had a lot of new guys, new faces, people with good attitudes – had nothing to do with ’88. The guys that did – trust me – forgot about it. We had a clean slate, new manager, and we were ready to go like every other team.  We thought we had a chance and that’s the truth. Every time you go to Spring Training, you think you’re going to be the team that year.”

Orsulak was a part of an Opening Day roster that featured Brady Anderson, Phil Bradley, Steve Finley, Rene Gonzales, Cal Ripken Jr., Dave Schmidt, Larry Sheets, Mickey Tettleton, Jim Traber, and Craig Worthington. Though he wasn’t an everyday starter, he felt the unity between he and his big-named teammates.

“I think that we had a bunch of guys that had some talent, had pitchers that pitched career years,” Orsulak stated. “Everybody liked each other, everybody pulled for each other – honestly. Even when I didn’t start, I was pulling for [Brady], [Steve] Finley, and I guess we had Phil Bradley that year and they were pulling for me.

“And it was genuine and you could feel it among the club. Everybody wanted everyone else to succeed. I don’t think that you get that all of the time.”

From 1988-1991, Orsulak posted a .279/.336/.397 slash line with 31 home runs, 182 runs batted in and 26 stolen bases. Most of his stats came under the wing of Robinson.

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