by Matthew Taylor
In a nod to tradition, Dave Trembley invited Orioles legends including Mike Cuellar and Rick Dempsey to spring training this season to work with the team's young talent and remind current players of the organization's proud past. Trembley will continue the effort moving forward; he's extended invites for next year to Cal and Brooks. In the meantime, the Birds simply need to get on base to connect with a World Series champion.
John "T-bone" Shelby is manning the coach's box on the first base side this season. A two-time World Series winner ('83 with the Birds, '88 with the Dodgers), Shelby was drafted by the O's with the 20th pick in 1977 and made his first major league appearance with the team in Sept. 1981. The slight center fielder batted .444 (4-for-9) in the '83 Series and had the game-winning RBI in Game Four.
Shelby made his major league debut on Sept. 15, 1981, but would have to wait nearly a full year to record his first major league hit, a double off of Yankee Shane Rawley, on Sept. 14, 1982. His first home run came during a home game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Oct. 1, 1982. Mike Caldwell was pitching.
A Lexington native, Shelby spent parts of 11 seasons with the Orioles' organization, playing most often in center field. However, he also made appearances at the corner outfield positions, in the designated hitter's role, and once in the infield - he recorded an assist while playing second base for a game during the 1985 season.
As part of his current role with the O's, Shelby works with the team's outfielders.
"Like I told all those guys, I would be observing them and if I didn't think there was anything to give any input on, I wouldn't. I would tell them to keep doing what they were doing."T-bone previously served as a first base coach for the Pirates and Dodgers. He also spent five years as a minor league manager, compiling a 291-335 record overall.
Shelby has six children. One of his sons, also named John, is currently playing minor league ball with the Single-A Winston-Salem Warthogs. John Shelby III helped lead the University of Kentucky to a school-record 44 wins in 2006 and is now a top prospect in the White Sox organization.
Shelby, whose father, John, played 11 major-league seasons for the Orioles, Dodgers and Tigers, hit .301 with 16 homers and 79 RBIs in 488 at-bats for Kannapolis of the Class A South Atlantic League.The official White Sox site offers a full profile on the younger Shelby.
If baseball lineage counts for anything, then Shelby might have a leg up on other Minor Leaguers. John T. Shelby, nicknamed T-Bone, played for three Major League teams from 1981 to 1991. He played all but one of his big league games in the outfield, with that one exception finding Shelby at second base for Baltimore in 1985.
Although the elder Shelby now works for the Orioles, he still finds plenty of time to talk baseball with his son. There was a lot to talk about concerning the 2007 season turned in by John Shelby III, who hit .301 with 16 home runs, 35 doubles, nine triples and 79 RBIs for Class A Kannapolis. He also threw in 19 stolen bases, 83 runs scored and just 77 strikeouts in 488 at-bats.