h2h Corner ~ Check you out on the Flip Side: Ron Roenicke

I think, initially, this card stuck out for two reasons. One, I love Gary Roenicke (more on him later) and, two, tennis is one of the more exasperating sports (second only to golf in my opinion). What is it with rich people and bizarrely intricate athletics?

When I was a kid, it was important to my parents that I be fluent in the art of the hardcourt. They had grown up without much money, put themselves through school and ascended to the upper middle class. So, on vacations, I’d always have to take tennis lessons. Mostly, during these lessons, I pretended I was Ken Griffey, Jr. or Barry Bonds and tried to hit every return over the fence. Exasperated, the tennis “pro” would send me off to the wilderness to retrieve the balls. Repeat this for one hour and you get the gist of my lessons. (Why I always emulated lefties is beyond me – maybe because I had a horrid backhand).

Anyway, I’d also play my father in tennis at the end of every trip. While he isn’t all that athletic, he was better at tennis than me. I was faster/quicker and in better shape, but I could never get the ball to go where I wanted (maybe it had something to do with those lessons). My dad would play well enough to keep me around in the match. Invariably (because we’re both poor losers and intensely competitive), though, he would put me away and I would get frustrated. I knew it was happening and couldn’t stop it. Well, I knew one way to stop it. I would slam my racket on the ground like a petulant child. Consequently, tennis is not relaxing but anxiety producing – worse than swinging a driver and missing the ball completely.

Roenicke had no problem with hand-eye coordination though, so tennis must have come easily to him. After all, he was a first round pick of the hometown Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977. He never really lived up to that billing though. He wouldn’t make it to the majors for four years (1981), when he was 24-years-old and he didn’t fare well in 22 games that year.

However, he did show some promise the following season, going .259/.359/.336. Sure, you’d want more power from a corner outfielder, but this was 1982 and he did get on base.

The Dodgers would release him in the middle of the following (unproductive) season, however. He bounced around for awhile, catching on here and there and not really getting to prove himself. From 1984-1986, he played for three teams and posted a .252/.389/.379 line in 535 plate appearances. That had to have been the highlight of his career (and he even played in a post-season with the Padres). It’s a shame he never got to show what he could do on the field. He finished with a .238/.353/.338 line.

So, why did the name Roenicke stick out (I pulled this card from a pack before he became the Brewers manager)? Well, his brother, Gary Roenicke, was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1977 (along with Joe Kerrigan and Don Stanhouse) for Rudy May, Randy Miller, and Bryn Smith. He was an Earl Weaver type of player.

From 1979-1985, he appeared in 823 games for the Orioles, posting a .250/.356/.447 line. He hit lefties really well throughout his career (.255/.363/.454) and did a ton of damage for Earl Weaver as a platoon player. Gary finished with a .247/.351/.434 line, appeared in two World Series and won one. His final numbers are eerily similar to his brother.

I like to think that what Gary learned from Earl Weaver maybe had a little to do with how Ron Roenicke manages. But really, I just like to see Weaver and they heyday of the Baltimore Orioles in any successful baseball squad.

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