The Baltimore Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Week was an early standout for the Baltimore Orioles during the 1950s.
Originally signed by the New York Yankees, Al Pilarcik made his major league debut for the Kansas City Athletics in 1956.
Following the season, Pilarcik joined the Orioles as a “Player to be Named Later” from an earlier trade in which the Athletics had acquired Jim Pisoni.
Pilarcik made an immediate splash for the Orioles. Capable of playing any of the three outfield positions, he primarily played rightfield for the Orioles. He also was known as a contact hitter. In 1860 career plate appearances he had 185 walks and 150 strikeouts.
In 1957 he played in a career-high 142 games and hit .278 with a career-best nine home runs and 49 RBI. He also scored 52 runs and had 16 doubles. His 14 stolen bases were the fifth best in the American League.
The following season, Pilarcik registered a career-best 21 doubles while again seeing action at all three outfield positions.
After starting his first two years in Baltimore, Pilarcik was more of a platoon played during his final two seasons in Baltimore. He did hit a career-best .282 during the 1959 campaign.
Following the 1960 season, Pilarcik was sent back to Kansas City in a trade. He split the 1961 season between Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox before retiring.
Pilarcik finished his major league career with a .256 batting average, 22 home runs, 66 doubles and 143 RBI.
Interestingly, he holds the distinction of having worn the number two longer than anyone else in Baltimore Orioles history.
After retiring from professional baseball, Pilarcik spent 20 years as a high school varsity coach and is in the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame.
Each week you can help decide which former sports great is recognized as the Baltimore Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Week by nominating your favorite athletes from the past. Gary Bell nominated Al Pilarcik to be this week’s pick. If you would like one of your favorites of the past to be honored as the Baltimore Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Week, please send me you nomination by e-mail.