January 27, 2002

The Modern "One Degree" Champ
by Steve Lombardi

On November 16, 2001, the Baltimore Orioles named Rick Dempsey as their first base coach for their 2002 season.  

Dempsey played in the Major Leagues for parts of 24 seasons from 1969 to 1992 (with the Twins, Yankees, Orioles, Indians, Dodgers and Brewers).  In addition to his playing career, Rick coached at the big league level for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.  (Dempsey's resume also includes five years as a minor-league manager in the Dodgers and Mets systems.)

As a coach with Baltimore this season, Dempsey will share a clubhouse with the some men, whom for the most part are, not very well known to the average baseball fan. 

Curious as to those more "well known" that Rick Dempsey had shared a Major League clubhouse with during his career - - either as teammate, coach or manager during his playing career; or, as colleague or player during his coaching career - - I began to make a list.

I stopped when I reached one hundred as there were already so many "prominent" names discovered.  Below is the list derived.  Upon scanning it, many interesting baseball names can be found.

Brady Anderson Whitey Ford Davey Lopes Willie Randolph
Don Baylor Julio Franco Sparky Lyle Cal Ripken Jr.
Mark Belanger Kirk Gibson Fred Lynn Mickey Rivers
Tim Belcher Tom Goodwin Billy Martin Brooks Robinson
Jay Bell Shawn Green Dennis Martinez Frank Robinson
Yogi Berra Bobby Grich Ramon Martinez Juan Samuel
Dante Bichette Pedro Guerrero Tippy Martinez Steve Sax
Paul Blair Ron Guidry Lee May Gary Sheffield
Bert Blyleven Tom Hall Scott McGregor Ken Singleton
Mike Boddicker Orel Hershiser Paul Molitor Don Stanhouse
Bobby Bonds Teddy Higuera Raul Mondesi Steve Stone
Dave Boswell Chan Ho Park Mike Morgan Mel Stottlemyre
Kevin Brown Ralph Houk Thurman Munson B.J. Surhoff
Brett Butler Elston Howard Bobby Murcer Rick Sutcliffe
Tom Candiotti Todd Hundley Eddie Murray Don Sutton
Rod Carew Catfish Hunter Mike Mussina Luis Tiant
Steve Carlton Reggie Jackson Graig Nettles John Tudor
Joe Carter Davey Johnson Phil Niekro Fernando Valenzuela
Chris Chambliss Doug Jones Otis Nixon Greg Vaughn
Dean Chance Jim Kaat Tony Oliva Bill Virdon
Mike Cuellar Eric Karros Jesse Orosco Earl Weaver
Storm Davis Harmon Killebrew Jim Palmer John Wetteland
Dock Ellis Tom Lasorda Ron Perranoski Devon White
Kevin Elster Bob Lemon Jim Perry Roy White
Mike Flanagan Jim Leyritz Lou Piniella Robin Yount

Not too shabby a list of friends and acquaintances for a lifetime .233 hitter, huh?  The list reads like a "Who's Who" of modern baseball history.  Rick Dempsey shared a clubhouse with each of these men at one point in his career - - most of them as teammates; the remainder as either his coach, manager, or as players he coached during 1999 and 2000.

Before he is through, Dempsey should write a book.  Even if he only told one good story about each of the one hundred men listed herein, it would be a fairly thick manuscript. 

There are probably only a handful of men who can make a "one degree of separation" claim such as this one.  Don Zimmer, Red Schoendienst and Frankie Crosetti come to mind.  But, those are men in their 70s, 80s, and 90s.  Dempsey is only 53 years old.

Who knows?  Given his age, with his return to the Major League ranks, and a possible managerial stint in his future, there could another forty to fifty notable names yet to make this list.

It is said that a man is known by the company he keeps.  Looks like the Orioles made one fine choice for their first base coach this year.

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