In celebration of Black History Month, throughout February, teams across Minor League Baseball are taking a look back at five of the best Black players to suit up for their club.
While some of these standout performers went on to long and illustrious Major League careers, others simply had great Minor League careers or, in some cases, just one incredible season that went down as “a year for the ages.”
Here is a look at five of the best Black baseball players ever to suit up for the Bowie Baysox.
After being the 4th overall pick in the 1992 MLB First Year Player Draft by the Baltimore Orioles, Hammonds played on the USA Olympic Team during that summer. After playing in one game at Camden Yards during the pre-Olympic Tour, he signed with the Orioles immediately following the game and was introduced to the home crowd during that night's Orioles vs. Twins game.
He would be assigned to begin his first pro season with the new Bowie Baysox in 1993 and played in 24 games with the club, hitting .283/3/10 before being promoted to AAA Rochester. He played in 36 games with the Red Wings before being promoted to Baltimore.
Hammonds would hit .305 during his first year in Baltimore and play for the Orioles from 1993-1998 before being traded to Cincinnati where he would play two seasons. He was then traded to Colorado for the 2000 season where he was selected as a National League All-Star and hit .335 with 20 home runs and 106 RBIs. He then signed a 3-year deal with Milwaukee but struggled with injuries during that tenure. He would also play for the Giants in 2003-04 and the Nationals in 2005 before retiring.
In a career that came full circle, he played his final pro game at Prince George's Stadium while on a rehab assignment for the Nationals with the Harrisburg Senators.
Today, Hammonds is the Associate Director of Player Programs and Initiatives at the Major League Baseball Players Association in New York.
In Bowie, Hammonds will forever be known as the first Baysox player to have ever been called up to the Major Leagues.
A 35th round (976 overall) Draft Pick of the Orioles in the 1995 MLB First Year Player Draft, Calvin Pickering had to overcome big odds against him making it to the big leagues. He was an intriguing talent, with the power to match his 6'5" and 2660 pound frame. He steadily progressed through the Orioles minor league system and showing the baseball world what he could do.
In 1996, he hit .325/18/66 for rookie-level Bluefield in 60 games and followed that up with a .311/25/79 line in 122 games for low-A Delmarva in 1997. Then came a big promotion from low-a to double-A Bowie, skipping over high-A Frederick, for the 1998 season. He would not be phased.
Pickering would continue his development in a big way during the 1998 season with the Baysox, hitting .309 with 31 home runs and 114 RBIs (a single season Bowie record that still stands) on his way to winning the Eastern League MVP award. He also won the home run and RBI legs of the Triple Crown in the league.
Following his MVP season, he would be called up to Baltimore to make his MLB Debut on September 12, 1998. He would spend much of the next three seasons at AAA Rochester, being called up to Baltimore for one 23-game stint with the Orioles in 1999. He would play a total of 95 MLB Games with Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati and Kansas City between 1998-2005.
In Bowie, he will forever be the first league MVP in team history.
A 12th round selection of the Baltimore Orioles in the 1991 MLB First Year Player Draft, outfielder Curtis Goodwin wasn't among the top rated players in his draft class. He did make a name for himself in the Orioles system with his hitting prowess and speed. In 1992 & 1993, Goodwin hit .282 with a total of 113 stolen bases between Low-A and High-A. He would be assigned to play with Bowie during a rather unique season in 1994.
The Baysox were scheduled to play a full season in their new home of Prince George's stadium in 1994, however construction delays brought on by weather issues in the winter delayed the opening until mid-June. The Baysox would play "home" games at the United states Naval Academy, University of Maryland and Harry Grove Stadium in Frederick before playing their first real home game on June 16, 1994. These developments didn't seem to slow down Goodwin in his quest to make it to the Majors.
Goodwin had a season to remember for the Baysox that year, leading the team in games played (142), at bats (597), runs scored (105), hits (171), stolen bases (59) while hitting .286. Those numbers still rank as single-season records for the Baysox franchise today.
He would be called up for his MLB Debut with the Orioles on June 2, 1995 and play 87 games for the big club that season. He would go on to play two seasons with the Reds in 1996-97, one season with Colorado (1998) and split the 1999 season between the Cubs and Blue Jays. He played a total of 431 MLB games. He finished his playing career spending 73 games with Oklahoma City (AAA) in 2001 and playing in some independent leagues between 2002-2007.
One of seven first round draft picks of the Orioles in the 1999 MLB First Year Player Draft, Keith Reed was rated as the Orioles #1 prospect in 2001 and made his MLB Debut for the Orioles on May 11, 2005.
Reed would be assigned to play with Bowie for part of the 2001 season where he hit .254/1/8 in 18 games. He would return to Bowie and play 372 games over three seasons (2002-2004) with the Baysox.
He is among the Baysox all-time franchise leaders in many categories including:
- Games played: 390 (5th)
- Hits: 382 (3rd)
- Runs: 189 (5th)
- Doubles: 66 (8th)
- Home Runs: 42 (4th)
- RBIs: 176 (4th)
Reed would only get to play in six MLB games for Baltimore in his career, going 1-5 in 2005. He would spend the 2006 season with AAA Ottawa and then spent the 2007-08 seasons playing independent ball before retiring.
From being a 13th round draft pick to MLB All-Star, Cedric Mullins had a steady ascent through the Orioles farm system before hitting a roadblock on his way to becoming one of the top outfielders in the game today.
He would spend the 2017 season with Bowie, hitting .265/13/37 before returning to begin the 2018 season with the Baysox. He wouldn't be in Bowie too long, playing in just 49 games and compiling a .313/6/28 line before getting promoted to AAA Norfolk. He would also get called up to Baltimore to make his MLB Debut on August 10, 2018 and play in 45 games for the Orioles.
Entering the 2019 season, he seemed to have a lock on a job in the outfield for the Orioles, but after hitting just .094/0/4 in 22 games, Mullins was sent back to AAA Norfolk where he continued to struggle. After 66 games at AAA, he would be sent back to Bowie to try to recapture what got him to the Big Leagues. Mullins would work hard and persevere in 51 games with the Baysox, hitting .271/5/18 and helping lead the team back to the playoffs and a berth in the Eastern League Championship series.
The 2020 MLB season, shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic, would see Mullins begin the season as part of the 30-man squad preparing at the "alternate training site" in Bowie. He would be called up early in the season and played in 48 games, hitting .271/3/12. He was back on the map and seemed to enter the 2021 season as the incumbent in centerfield. What came next, most people did not expect...except maybe Cedric.
Cedric started the 2021 season as the Orioles leadoff hitter and starting centerfielder and he would not relinquish that position all season long. He was a rock in the lineup, playing in 159 of 162 games and putting together a season to remember. He spent much of the season near the top of the American League batting leaders and finished with a .291 average. He also hit 30 home runs, a career high, and knocked in 59 runs. He also added 37 doubles (5th in A.L.), 30 stolen bases (2nd in the A.L.) and had 175 hits. He was also named as an American League All-Star for the first time in his career. He also won the MLBPAA Orioles Heart and Hustle Award.
In early February, 2022, Mullins revealed that he was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in November, 2020. In the spring of 2020, Mullins felt ill for a bit but thought it might have been food poisoning. At the time, Trey Mancini was battling Colon cancer and Mullins was certainly concerned with the pain that followed throughout the season. He found out in November, 2020 that he had Crohn's and over 10 centimeters of his intestine was surgically removed. Due to an infection, he lost around 20 pounds. He built himself back up and had a breakthrough and breakout season.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention the names and accomplishments of six additional players who suited up for part of their career in Bowie.
JERRY HAIRSTON, JR: Hairston was drafted by the Orioles in the 11th round of the 1997 MLB Draft. He made his pro debut with the rookie-level Bluefield Orioles in 1997. He made a quick rise up in the O's farm system, beginning the 1998 season with high-A Frederick, where he played 80 games. He was then promoted to Bowie, where he hit .326 in 55 games and received a September promotion to Baltimore. He made his MLB Debut for the Orioles on September 11, 1998.
He would go on to have a 16 year Major League career, playing for the Orioles, Cubs, Rangers, Reds, Yankees, Padres, Nationals, Brewers and Dodgers. He would win a World Series as part of the 2009 Yankees team. Today, he works as part of the Dodgers broadcast team.
WILLIE HARRIS: A 24th round draft pick of the Orioles in the 1999 MLB Draft, Harris rocketed through the O's farm system, reaching AA Bowie in just his 2nd full season in pro ball. He would not disappoint, putting together a solid season, hitting .305 with nine home runs and 49 RBIs while playing 133 games for the Baysox. He also stole 54 bases, a total that ranks second in Baysox team history for a single season. Following the Bowie season in 2001, he would be called up to Bowie for his his MLB Debut with the Orioles.
After the 2001 season, Harris was traded to the Chicago White Sox where he played for four seasons. He was an important piece of their 2005 World Series Championship. In game four, he scored the only run in a 1-0 win by the White Sox, clinching the series championship.
Following the 2005 season, he was picked up by the Red Sox and he would play 47 games in Boston in 2006. He would go on to play for Atlanta (2007), Washington (2008-10), New York Mets (2011) and Cincinnati (2012) before hanging up his cleats. Since retiring, Harris has served as a minor league coach and manager in the White Sox and Giants organizations. He has also served as the Cincinnati Reds baserunning and outfield coordinator and most recently was the third base coach for the Chicago Cubs.
TIM RAINES, JR.: "Little Rock" as many called him, was drafted in the 6th round of the 1998 MLB Draft by the Orioles. He would spend parts of the 2001-2003 seasons with the Baysox where he would show off his speed on the base paths. He would swipe 90 bases in his Bowie career, becoming the team's all-time career leader in that category. In his minor league career, he amassed 453 stolen bases.
"Little Rock" is the son of Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Tim "Rock" Raines. On October 4, 2001, Raines, Jr. played centerfield for the Orioles while his dad, played left field. They became the second major league father-son duo to play in the same game for the same team (Griffey's). Raines, Jr. has also coached in the Orioles farm system, serving as the Hitting Coach for the Aberdeen IronBirds during the 2017 season.
WALTER YOUNG: Selected by the Pirates in the 31st round of the 1999 MLB Draft, Young was a very imposing figure. Standing 6' 5" tall and weighing around 300 pounds, Young could launch baseballs all over the ballpark. While a student at Purvis High School in Purvis, Mississippi, he turned down a scholarship offer to play football at LSU to sign with the Pirates. He would play in the minors for the Pirates though the 2003 season, but was released prior to the 2004 season and he was signed by the Orioles and assigned to Bowie.
During the 2004 season with the Baysox, he overcame a slow start to play in 133 games, hitting .274 with 33 home runs and 98 RBIs. The 33 home runs are tied for the single-season record in Baysox team history. Young would be named to the Eastern League All-Star game in 2004 and participate against Ryan Howard in the All Star Game Home Run Derby. During the Derby, Young launched a home run over the flag pole in deep centerfield that was going UP as it left the stadium.
Young would be called up to make his MLB Debut on September 6, 2005 after a solid season at AAA Ottawa. He would play in 14 games for the Orioles, hitting .303 with his only MLB home run. Those would be the only MLB games he would play. He would retire from baseball after playing for a few independent league teams between 2007-2010 and became a shift sergeant at the county jail in Forrest County Sheriff's Department in Hattiesburg, MS. He died of a heart attack on September 19, 2015.
"Q" was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of Middle Creek High School in Apex, NC. Through 2021, he has played in over 1,700 professional games across the world, including stops in the U.S., Mexico and even Australia. Entering the 2022 season, he is looking forward to getting at least 43 more RBIs, which would give him 1,000 for his professional career.
Latimore was signed by the Orioles as a minor league free agent after playing the previous four seasons across the Eastern League, including two seasons in Altoona, one in Akron and one Harrisburg. The 2015 season would be his fifth consecutive season in the same Double-A league. It was here in Bowie where he had a breakout, hitting .274 with a career single-season best 20 home runs and 64 RBIs. He was also a key member of the Baysox 2015 Eastern League Championship Team, providing timely offense, stellar defense and infectious, positive attitude everyday at the ballpark. The 2022 season will be Latimore's 15th professional season playing baseball and maybe his final season as a player.
D-Mac as his teammates called him throughout his career, was drafted by the Orioles in the first round of the 1997 MLB Draft out of Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, CO. His first professional experience would be with the Low-A Delmarva Shorebirds, spending one season there in 1998. He would move up to High-A Frederick in 1999 and then join Bowie for the 2000 season. McDonald would play in 183 career games with the Baysox between 2000-2002 and would make his MLB Debut for the Orioles on April 30, 2004.
Throughout his professional baseball career, he played in over 1,800 games, 331 of those in the majors, for seven organizations including: Baltimore, Cleveland, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Boston, Yankees and Cubs. While with the Red Sox in 2010, he hit a pinch hit, game tying home run, making him just the ninth player in team history to hit a home run in his first at bat.