I'm not sure if the Baltimore Orioles are looking to roster a special pinch runner for their run to the postseason, but if so they could probably do a lot worse than a 45-year-old Deion Sanders.
The NFL Hall of Famer and former major leaguer, who's in town to do pregame and postgame work for the NFL Network's Cleveland Browns-Baltimore Ravens broadcast on Thursday night, stopped by Camden Yards on Wednesday, and even donned the uniform to take batting practice prior to their 12-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
It's hard to believe it's been 11 years since the famous dual sport athlete last appeared in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds. Of course before that Sanders spent the bulk of his nine-year MLB career with the Atlanta Braves while simultaneously playing for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. But even before that Sanders was a part of the New York Yankees organization, and that's where he met current Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who happened to serve as his manager at Double-A Albany.
They were reunited on Wednesday for the first time since Sanders took batting practice with the Texas Rangers while Showalter was managing there. And it's pretty clear the player-manager relationship they first established 23 years ago has grown into a very strong mutual respect.
"Buck's a good man. You've got to understand a wide-eyed kid with a lot of dreams and aspirations coming out of Florida State, and I go to Albany and I meet Buck Showalter. He's been the same for two decades; integrity, work ethic, all that he stands for," Sanders said.
As you heard in the video, Showalter also had many kind words for Sanders, especially when discussing his incredible speed and base stealing prowess.
Speed was definitely his game, and though he may have never been an All-Star in baseball, he obviously knows an awful lot about winning, having been a part of several Atlanta Braves playoff teams in the early '90s. Oh, and not to mention his Super Bowl championships with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys.
I think that makes his pregame advice for the Orioles relevant and worth quoting.
"Stay focused, man. Stay focused. They've got what it takes. They've got the pitching, the hitting, the fielding. They're very intelligent," Sanders said.
If Baltimore's seven-homer barrage on Wednesday is any indication, I don't think focus will be an issue. But I still think they could use that pinch runner, especially with a one-game playoff looming next week that could very easily be determined by one little run.
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- Deion Sanders
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