Some of the Top Cards of 1976

Sunday, July 25, 2010

1976 Topps #505 - Mark Belanger

  • Mark Belanger was the epitome of the "good field/no hit" shortstop. Belanger won eight Gold Gloves (1969, 1971, 1973-1978) but hit above .230 in only three of his full seasons. Belanger was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1962 and played in the minors in 1962 and in 1964. Mark was in the Army in 1963 and didn't play.
  • Mark first came up to the Orioles in 1965. He played in 11 games (1 for 3) in 1965 and eight games (3 for 19) in 1966. Belanger was Luis Aparicio's backup in 1967 and took over the full-time shortstop job when Aparicio was traded after the 1967 season.
  • Belanger had his best season in 1969 when he won his first Gold Glove and batted .287 in 150 games. He hit the first home run in ALCS history in 1969, which was interesting since he hit only 20 home runs in his entire career.  Mark (The Glove) Belanger Adds Another Dimension- November 1969 Baseball Digest
  • Mark became the "triple crown loser" in 1970 by finishing last in the AL in all three triple crown categories (.218, 1 HR, 36 RBI). 
  • Belanger's biggest offensive seasons were in 1971 (.266 with a .365 OBP) and 1976 (.270 with 27 stolen bases). Mark made the AL All Star team in 1976 and went 0 for 1. Mark Belanger - The Orioles' Mechanical Man on Defense - December 1971 Baseball Digest. Mark Belanger: The Run Saver - August 1974 Baseball Digest.
  • Belanger was the starting shortstop for the Orioles from 1968-1978. Mark Belanger: The Orioles' 'Mr. Glove' - June 1978 Baseball Digest.Mark was supplanted as the starter by Kiko Garcia in 1979 and although he played in 101 games he batted only .167 in 198 AB.
  • Mark regained his starting position in 1980 and was also the starter in 1981. Belanger batted .165 in 64 games in 1981 and was allowed to leave as a free agent after the season (the Orioles had Cal Ripken Jr. ready for the majors). Mark was one of four players who led negotiations for the Players Association during the 1981 strike.
  • Belanger signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 1982 season and batted .240 in 50 at bats. Mark retired after he was released by the Dodgers following the 1982 season.
  • After his retirement Mark worked for the Players Association as a liason between the players and the union leadership.
  • Belanger died of lung cancer on October 6, 1998.
  • Liked to face: Jim Kern (.625 in 16 AB); Dave  Morehead (.533 in 15 AB); Fritz Peterson (.308 in 78 AB)
  • Hated to face: Rick Waits (.000 in 17 AB); Al Fitzmorris (.040 in 25 AB); Gaylord Perry (.083 in 48 AB)

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