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Mark Henry Belanger (June 8, 1944 – October 6, 1998), nicknamed "The Blade", was an American professional baseball shortstop. He played eighteen seasons in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
(MLB) for the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers. A defensive standout, he won eight Gold Glove Awards between 1969 and 1978, leading the American League in assists and fielding percentage three times each, and retired with the highest career fielding average by an AL shortstop (.977). He set franchise records for career games, assists and double plays as a shortstop, all of which were later broken by Cal Ripken Jr.
Cal Ripken Jr.
After his playing career, he became an official with the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Contents

1 Early life 2 Career 3 Later life 4 See also 5 References 6 External links

Early life[edit] Belanger was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he attended Pittsfield High School, where he played baseball and basketball. On the basketball court, he became the school's first 1,000-point scorer. He was recruited by the Orioles as an amateur in 1962, and made his debut with the club on August 7, 1965. Career[edit] He took over as the Orioles' regular shortstop in late 1967, and held the position for over a decade. Nicknamed "The Blade" because of his height of 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) and weight of only 170 lb (77 kg), Belanger was known as a poor hitter. In 1970 he was a Triple Crown loser
Triple Crown loser
(finishing last in the TC categories). In his eighteen seasons in the major leagues, Belanger hit only 20 home runs, and had a lifetime batting average of .228, only topping the .230 mark over a full season three times; his .228 average is the third-lowest of any major league player with over 5000 career at bats, ahead of only George McBride
George McBride
(.218) and Ed Brinkman (.224), and the seventh-lowest of any non-catcher with at least 2500 at bats since 1920. His true contribution to the team was on defense, where he earned a reputation as one of the best fielding shortstops ever. Receiving the AL Gold Glove eight times (1969, 1971, 1973–78), he was also named to the All-Star team in 1976. Belanger joined a select group of shortstop-second baseman combinations who each won Gold Gloves in the same season while playing together: in 1969 and 1971 with Davey Johnson, and again with Bobby Grich
Bobby Grich
each year between 1973 and 1976 inclusive. And with Brooks Robinson
Brooks Robinson
winning at third base every year through 1975, the left side of the Orioles' infield was seemingly impenetrable. Despite his famously poor hitting, Belanger had substantial success against some of the best pitchers of his era, including Bert Blyleven, Nolan Ryan, and Tommy John. He hit a rare home run in the first American League
American League
Championship Series game ever played in 1969, and after uncharacteristically hitting .333 in the 1970 ALCS, his contributions led to the Orioles' 1970 World Series
World Series
victory, the team's second title in five years; he caught a line drive to end a 4–3 victory in Game 1 with the tying run on first base, and had an assist to end Game 3. Playing in six ALCS, he set league playoff records for career games, putouts, assists, total chances and double plays by a shortstop, all of which were broken between 1998 and 2002 by Omar Vizquel
Omar Vizquel
and Derek Jeter. He was granted free agency in 1981, perhaps in response to his public criticism of manager Earl Weaver, and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 1982 season, after which he retired.[1] Following Belanger's departure from the Orioles, former teammate Rich Dauer said, "Anyone would miss Mark Belanger. You're talking about the greatest shortstop in the world. He never put you in a bad position with his double-play throws...He'd put you where you should be to make the play... I never had to think out there. If there was any question in my mind, I'd look at Blade, and he'd have a finger out, pointing which way I should move.[2] Later life[edit] Belanger served as the Orioles' union representative for several years. He was one of the four players who led negotiations during the 1981 strike. After his retirement as an active player he was employed by the MLB Players Association as a liaison to its membership. He and his wife Daryl had two homes; in Timonium, Maryland
Timonium, Maryland
and Key Biscayne, Florida and had two sons, Richard and Robert.[3] A long-time smoker, Belanger contracted lung cancer in the late 1990s and died in New York City
New York City
at the age of 54. He is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Pittsfield, Massachusetts. See also[edit]

Biography portal Baseball portal

List of Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
career stolen bases leaders List of Gold Glove middle infield duos

References[edit]

^ Goldstein, Richard (October 7, 1998). "Mark Belanger, 54, a Shortstop
Shortstop
On Orioles Known for Fielding". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2010.  ^ Rosenfeld, Harvey (1995). Iron Man: The Cal Ripken, Jr., Story. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-312-13524-6.  ^ Mark Belanger SABR Retrieved 2014-10-24.

External links[edit]

Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or Baseball-Reference (Minors) Retrosheet Mark Belanger at Find a Grave Mark Belanger at the SABR Bio Project, by Frank Vaccaro, retrieved November 8, 2017

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Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles
1970 World Series
World Series
champions

5 Brooks Robinson
Brooks Robinson
( World Series
World Series
MVP) 6 Paul Blair 7 Mark Belanger 8 Andy Etchebarren 9 Don Buford 10 Elrod Hendricks 14 Merv Rettenmund 15 Davey Johnson 16 Bobby Grich 19 Dave McNally 20 Frank Robinson 22 Jim Palmer 24 Pete Richert 25 Moe Drabowsky 26 Boog Powell 29 Dick Hall 30 Chico Salmon 31 Curt Motton 32 Marcelino López 35 Mike Cuellar 36 Tom Phoebus 37 Terry Crowley 39 Eddie Watt 40 Dave Leonhard 44 Jim Hardin

Manager 4 Earl Weaver

Coaches 31 George Bamberger 41 Jim Frey 48 George Staller 55 Billy Hunter

Regular season American League
American League
Championship Series

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American League
American League
Shortstop
Shortstop
Gold Glove Award

1958: Aparicio 1959: Aparicio 1960: Aparicio 1961: Aparicio 1962: Aparicio 1963: Versalles 1964: Aparicio 1965: Versalles 1966: Aparicio 1967: Fregosi 1968: Aparicio 1969: Belanger 1970: Aparicio 1971: Belanger 1972: Brinkman 1973: Belanger 1974: Belanger 1975: Belanger 1976: Belanger 1977: Belanger 1978: Belanger 1979: Burleson 1980: Trammell 1981: Trammell 1982: Yount 1983: Trammell 1984: Trammell 1985: Griffin 1986: Fernández 1987: Fernández 1988: Fernández 1989: Fernández 1990: Guillén 1991: Ripken, Jr. 1992: Ripken, Jr. 1993: Vizquel 1994: Vizquel 1995: Vizquel 1996: Vizquel 1997: Vizquel 1998: Vizquel 1999: Vizquel 2000: Vizquel 2001: Vizquel 2002: Rodriguez 2003: Rodriguez 2004: Jeter 2005: Jeter 2006: Jeter 2007: Cabrera 2008: Young 2009: Jeter 2010: Jeter 2011: Aybar 2012: Hardy 2013: Hardy 2014: Hardy 2015: Escobar 2016: Lindor 2017: Simmons

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Members of the Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles
Hall of Fame

Roberto Alomar Brady Anderson Luis Aparicio Harold Baines George Bamberger Steve Barber Hank Bauer Mark Belanger Paul Blair Mike Boddicker Mike Bordick Hal Brown Don Buford Al Bumbry Mike Cuellar Rich Dauer Doug DeCinces Rick Dempsey Jack Dunn III Mike Flanagan Jim Gentile Bobby Grich Dick Hall Elrod Hendricks Chris Hoiles Billy Hunter Davey Johnson John Lowenstein Dennis Martínez Tippy Martinez Lee May Scott McGregor Dave McNally Ray Miller Stu Miller Melvin Mora Eddie Murray Mike Mussina Johnny Oates Gregg Olson Jim Palmer Milt Pappas Boog Powell Paul Richards Cal Ripken Jr. Cal Ripken Sr. Brooks Robinson Frank Robinson Gary Roenicke Ken Singleton B. J. Surhoff Gus Triandos Eddie Watt Earl Weaver Hoyt Wilhelm Gene Woodling

Herb Armstrong Award

Richie Bancells Rex Barney Rob Brown Frank Cashen Harry Dalton Jerold Hoffberger Phil Itzoe Lenny Johnston Lee MacPhail Bill O'Donnell Hank Peters Don Pries Ralph Salvon Chuck Thompson Ernie Tyler Fred Uhlman Sr. Julie Wagner Eddie Weidner

"Wild Bill" Hagy Award

.